One of those wonderful days at home. You mom is visiting and she has generously agreed to your request of cooking “Pesarattu” for you. For those who have not yet heard of or tasted this wondrous dish, I pity your misfortune. It’s a flat pancake made out of whole green gram and sprinkled with chopped onions, green chillies, ginger and cumin seeds soaking in ghee. I am sure it is the breakfast of the Gods.
I was humming a gentle song and spreading out the heavenly batter on a cooking pan when I hear my mother yell out my name. The tone was louder than normal and shriller than maternal.
“Cheppu Amma ( Tell me Mom)”
“What is this?”
“What is what? I set the stove onto low and walked into the bedroom.
What is THIS?” She was standing behind the far side of the bed and in her hand was dangling a bright coloured dupatta.
“A more relevant question would have been whose is this?”
I froze. A blue dupatta. I needed to think of something quick. I am usually quite the person to think on my feet. I could get out of work, trouble, hospital postings, night duties, skirmishes with policemen and the occasional run in with boss by coming up with excuses and explanations that were generally so outrageous that they would be swallowed with absolute credulity.
But this was Mom. Your brain turns to jelly and slowly pours out of your ears in front of her.
“Er. Amma… Actually… I don’t remember whose it is”
Among all the answers I could have given her, this was the worst. In cricketing terms, I just managed to “hit my wicket”
“What? You don’t remember? Are they so many girls coming into this house that you can’t keep track? Oh Lord Balaji.!! My son has fallen on the ways of the world after coming to this god forsaken city.” She began to rant and rant with hands flailing all over the place.
The series of events just spiraled out of control. I have no idea what happened next as she bombarded me with a series of questions and demanded answers. She kept tugging at my hand and pointing to the picture of my grandfather and asking me how he would react if he were alive. I had this certain feeling that I could see my grandfather smirking at me in joy. No. I am sure. That picture was smirking at me.
By the time I looked back at my mother, she wasn’t there. She was replaced by Arnab Goswami who demanded all the answers from me but wouldn’t give me any time to defend myself or even to breathe in front of her. She had become the victim, accuser, prosecution, witnesses, judge and the jailor in one stroke.
“Who is this girl? Who are these girls? Who are these women of other castes or religions that you are inviting home?. No . Leave it. We need to end it. We need to get you married. You had enough of running behind locals and girls in this God forsaken city. No. Kiran. You need to get married.”
MARRIAGE!!!? I couldn’t get married. Im too young. I haven’t dated anyone from Virar yet. How could I get married? I need to think quick. What do I say? Married? Impotent? Heartbroken? Poor? Committed? Possessed by the Devil? Gay?
Yup. I choose Gay to save the day.
“No. Amma. That dupatta doesn’t belong to a guy. It belongs to a guy. Yes. Im gay. I like guys. Plump cute ones.”
I had played the gay card. This was the last card a guy can play. I had already played the girlfriend card. I had played the “too-young-for-marriage” card. I had played the “grandpa-dead-i-am-heartbroken” card. I had played “i-don’t-have-a-quarter-in-Bombay” card. I had played the “Too-much-work-stress-cant-support-family” card. I had even played the “i-am-too-immature-for-a-girl” card. This was the last card . The card of desperation to stall an impending wedding. The last card of deceit and lies and of abandoning ones sexuality to postpone the inevitable.
“What? What do you mean you are gay?”
“Im gay. I like guys”
“I know what gay means. Ive seen Dostana.”
“Good. So im gay.”
“But I don’t see any chiffon skirts or make up kits in the house Kiran”
“Amma. Im Gay, im not a cross dresser” . The conversation was getting exceedingly uncomfortable.
“Ok. Let me process it. You like boys.”
“No. I used to like boys. Now I like men.”
And then she did the unimaginable. My mother’s actions are truly the acknowledgement of the “Mad-Gult” gene that runs in my family.
She grabbed her bag and took the phone out. She began to dial.
“Hello. Its me. We were looking for a groom for Kavita na. We need to look for another groom as well. For whom? For my son. Yes. Kiran only. I am not joking. He likes guys it seems. How am I supposed to know. He has had a string of girlfriends. I never suspected. But leave all of that. We need to get him married. A tall boy of in the 24-30 age bracket. Are you writing this down?”
“Amma. What is wrong with you?” I was appalled at my mother. She had taken this thing exceedingly well. This card, which I had supposed would temporarily save me from marriage was throwing me under the bus, a totally new unexpected bus.
“Let me see. Kiran will like tall guys. Atleast 5’10. Telugu ViswaBrahmin. Well built and fair. Perhaps someone with gym body. What do you say Kiran? No. Ok. Atleast an MBA or MD. Must be working in Bombay. You know his horoscope no.? He is Mithuna Lagnam and Visakha Nakshatram. You put it up on the website na.”
I grew increasingly paranoid. Website?
“Amma what is this? Who was that? What is this website you are speaking to him about?”
“It was only Ramana Murthy uncle Kiran. The marriage broker. Your father and I have decided to get you married within six months. It doesn’t matter who you marry a boy or a girl. You are marrying in six months.”
I began to panic suddenly. This woman had gone lost her marbles. “Amma. Are you mad? What will the relatives say?”
“I don’t care Kiran”, she declared loudly. “ I love my little gay son.I don’t care what the world thinks. Your happiness is paramount for me”. She hugged me and began to weep. “I know it will be difficult. It has been extremely difficult to find a guy for your sister. I shall be harder to find a guy for you. But we shall do it. We will find you a boy in our community. I promise you my son.”
“What the Fountain!!? What do you mean in our community?”
“Yes. Ofcourse. Just because you are gay, doesn’t stop you from becoming a Telugu Vishwabrahmin. Your father will not approve you marrying some Marathi or Punjabi boy. Oh I Forgot. I need to tell your Dad also. Let me call him”
I froze in terror. My dad finding out that I was gay was unimaginable. He would kill me. Wait a minute. I am not gay. I was pretending to be gay. Well. My dad finding even that out would be more mortifying. He will kill me either ways. I would be the first guy in history who got killed for pretending to be gay. I couldn’t let my mom tell him. This woman had gone totally whacko and was behaving in an exceedingly difficult to handle manner. Next moment she could ask me to wear her stilettos.
She was still sobbing at regular intervals and breathing silently. She finally started to dial the numbers and barked “ Yemandi ( Telugu way of wives to address their husbands). I need to tell you something about your son.”
I lunged forward and grabbed the phone. “Nothing father. Mom is just complaining that its raining too much and that the roof leaks a little. Bye for now”
“Amma”, I implored as I fell on my knees to apologise. “ Don’t tell dad. He will kill me. I am not gay. I was just acting to get out of the wedding. I am not gay. I agree that I like Idina Menzel but that’s it. I was just acting. Now you don’t tell dad”
She caught hold of my shirt and drew me closer. And in a deep scary, almost satanic voice, she whispered to me, “You think you are the only one who can act.? I am your mother and I was born on the banks of the Godavari. Don’t underestimate me. Now look at the pictures of girls Ramana Murthy has sent”
She went into the kitchen whistling a happy tune. I think I regained consciousness after an hour.