You have a group of female friends, a collection of Barbie dolls and an imagination that is restricted to playing ‘ghar ghar’ as we called it in the nineties. The girl with the short hair is the husband, the long-haired girl is the wife – and if dolls are scant to come by (or if you want to add realism to the make-belief ‘heteronormative’ world), then the shortest girl in the group becomes the child.
The game is very straightforward – husband goes to work, wife cooks, child plays, husband comes home, the family eats and goes to sleep. But kids are curious – research indicates that child sexuality develops from as early as seven or eight years of age.
So the ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ invariably peck each other on the lips.
If you are a happy heterosexual, then you feel awkward about the peck the next day, do not mention it to the rest of the group and keep subsequent ‘ghar ghars’ R rated. If you have the slightest B gene in your system, however, then you think about the peck for long after, think of legitimate and unsuspicious ways of incorporating it into future ghar ghars; and Bollywood songs on Doordarshan acquire a new meaning.
Please note that I use the word ‘peck’ because that’s all it is… blink and miss but that’s all it takes to steer the destiny of your impending sexual future.
Labelled ‘the Weird One’
A few more summer vacations pass and you may have found that one close female friend who is complicit and also discreet. However, your curiosity is matched by burgeoning guilt and confusion. You like sneaking off with your friend into backyards and empty rooms and enact what you saw on television the night before, but deep down you know that what you are doing is not right and if an adult were to see you, the consequences will not be pleasant.
You fight with your friend and tell her in no uncertain terms that this needs to stop. Two days later, you are back in your parents’ room, tentatively kissing her on the lips, her breath smelling of the day’s lunch, aroused and nauseated at the same time.
You reach puberty and you begin observing boys. Some of them are cute. You learn about the male sex organ, the female sex organ and how babies are made. However, you do not learn about sex and nowhere in your science text books do they show two individual female lady parts on the same page – ergo, two vaginas cannot achieve anything in conjunction. Or at least that’s what they will have you believe.
Some of you may be in a girl’s school and you find yourself staring at the tall sporty ones with flat chests and short hair. You are too young to consider the ill-effects of stereotyping based on looks. Right now, it’s all about staring and fantasising, while trying to not get labelled as ‘the weird one’, as one of your classmates has already been branded as ‘the lesbian’.
Despite what’s going on inside your head, your stance is – “I don’t care if someone is a homosexual, I’ll never be one”. There is some redemption for you because you may be confused about your place on the sexual grid but you don’t reek of judgement towards the one who are on the ‘wrong’ side of it.
Before you know it, it’s time for the CBSE Board Examinations, and life itself comes to a standstill.
A Sisterhood With the Women of Literature…
College – out of the school uniforms and into the bargains from Sarjoini, Janpath and Dilli Haat. The campus is nothing like what Karan Johar depicted in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai but it’s a welcome respite anyway.
You encounter Mrs Dalloway, or The Lihaaf or any piece of literature, art, music or movie, and your confused sporadic thoughts find a home…a sisterhood comprising women from different eras who felt something similar to what you are feeling.
Before long, you encounter ‘her’ and you are no longer confused. You both may have long hair and breasts or you may not. You may be friends, or you may spend your entire college life just staring at her while her friends label you ‘the weird one’. This time you aren’t scared of labels. You may be young to understand love but you can understand desire. Or maybe it is love…when just being within the same perimeter as her is all you want, and just a glimpse of her face makes your day.
Soon you will be asked for threesomes, trust me. Till then, this is the purest feeling, so cherish it.
(Shyama Laxman has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London and now she writes sales pitches. Dreams come true or so they say. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Indian Spice neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)