I have been a woman who didn’t think I’d be anything but heterosexual all my life. As children my parents didn’t have friends who didn’t have partners in marriage (to people of the the opposite sex). Either they were already in it, trying to get in it or out of it. I fantasized about a boy with whom I would talk till our bodies couldn’t stop telling us that we ought to be sleeping. About the places we’d visit and about the kind of friends we’d make. Then you happened!
I remember walking into the hall, thinking about my presentation at the meeting, about how I could collaborate on a few more ideas with the organisers, about being in Auroville and thinking of the different lives I could live there. When you started sharing about your work, about your struggles with inserting and getting off moon cups, about how you drive your mother crazy, I remember smiling and looking intently. It wasn’t then that I noticed how you were powerful with your eye and the way you make it match with the stresses on the words you say or the nosepin, flat, silver, small. At that time I was enjoying the buzz in my body, the buzz of life! I didn’t think it was you, truly, maybe it was Auroville and me?
I remember your invitation to collaborate that was ‘open to all’. Sometime between asking you to take me outside on an errand and returning, we reached a state where I couldn’t stop grinning and you couldn’t not notice me. I think it was when you asked, “Are you monogamously bisexual or polyamorously bisexual!?” that it was out and we could talk, though I asked you out for a walk the next evening!
I remember asking you if you were sure of what you were feeling not because I didn’t trust it but because I wanted to be sure. Be sure that you being 23 wouldn’t hurt me, that I wasn’t one of the experiments you were having with life. I remember feeling like a person. I also wanted to be sure that there was no power hierarchy that made this happen and just then, just then you said, ” Stop moralising this.”
I remember at that moment wanting to kiss you so that I could hear what you were saying. It was another walk, “not-a-booty-call” sleepover that brought my jumping body back into my skin. A body that had been jumping for 28 years. It was that sex we never had that made me feel ‘younger’ and you ‘liberated’ and our bodies were so congruent that people who knew us, knew the next day!
It wasn’t until days later when I was deciding to ask you out that it hit me that I have liked you enough to bring me out of my shell. I, who relished time personally squandered on fetching-the-orange-candy-stick walks and avoided any detour towards making myself known too much or getting to a point of having another person live in in my head and occupy my mind space, was moved enough to feel this and aware enough to celebrate it.
We never got to see each other again, and your cold because of which you couldn’t pick up the phone never healed, though your mails never stopped. I remember being angry, annoyed, irritable at this and learning that smileys and exchange of messages was not an initiation of a voice conversation but the conversation itself. I remember asking that you act how you feel, that there is an “art of not giving a fuck,” that one can love without obeying, and I remember seeing you not wanting to get out because that would mean so much change. I remember the ease that this realisation brought. That I felt for you, that I felt grateful for the capacity to feel and amazed that I felt this for a woman!
I remember feeling as if I found a limb from the bottom of the ocean. The conversations, your advocacy and the tendency of politicizing life and engaging with it (that which your state is famous for) taught me how to kiss well.
You have left me a full person, a healed person for myself, and have made my heart a little more presentable to offer to others. You gifted me that long deep breath that can save lives. (medically CPR breaths are shorter, faster but I’m talking about the air mermaids blow to make humans enter the ocean world)
“Stop moralising,” plays out in my mind in my own voice now when I excuse myself from life. You are the one love I could happily say goodbye to and be thankful it ever happened.
To the brainlicking demoness of advocacy, the sensory apparatus of living Earth, to the nightmare bitch for the corporate pad companies! (Though we’ll show them what nightmare bitch is really all about.) To the woman who made me realise that being straight was just a phase! Cheers.
Sneha Rooh is a palliative physician, a person who loves cats and cat naps. Her passions include getting people to talk about death through death cafes and women to say “vagina” without flinching. She travels around India using art theatre and dialogue to bring up matters like sex, death, and menstruation through her organisation Orikalankini.
Elizabeth Watkin is based in Asheville, NC. She dabbles in writing, art-making, and local activism.