It was Valentine’s Day, the day when most of the boys came to school with a rose hidden in their bags, and the girls brought the cutest handmade cards in the cluelessness of their parents. Many secret one-sided lovers were eagerly looking forward to meeting their crush or were dying with nervousness before confessing their love. Love sure was ‘in the air’, however, not for all.
There was Shikhar, the odd kid. It was not that he was against love. He too had feelings for someone. But that ‘someone’ was way out of his league. It wasn’t any rich and popular girl, the one whom all the boys always had an eye on. It was someone very close to him- his best friend.
Shikhar too had planned to confess his feelings that day. He stood behind a pillar in the hallway to look out for him. That’s right- him.
Shikhar felt a warm gush of air as Tarun arrived from around the corner. He sighed a sigh of mixed feelings. He saw him standing there, smiled, and walked up to him to high-five him. Shikhar’s face changed from excited to disappointed, somehow. Tarun noticed and asked him, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh it’s nothing”, Shikhar shrugged. Tarun took a deep breath, rolled his eyes and grabbed Shikhar by the shoulder to sit him down on the staircase. After quite a few ‘Forget it’s and ‘Um’s and ‘Well’s, Shikhar raised his eyes and said, “Look Tarun, I like you”. Tarun looked confused and said, ”I like you too, Shikhar. What’s the big deal?” Shikhar bit his lip. “Today’s the big deal.”
It took Tarun a few seconds to comprehend what Shikhar was trying to say. The last few words that he ever spoke to Shikhar were “Ew, are you crazy? Get away from me!”
Shikhar and Tarun both lost their friendship that day, the friendship that probably wouldn’t even have started if Tarun knew that Shikhar was gay. The next day, most of the school knew Shikhar’s little secret. His life was never the same again.
Tarun, his best friend, had called him crazy for something that he was born with- his sexuality. Why? Did he commit a sin of any kind? Did he go wrong somewhere? He started being made fun of, being bullied and rejected by his classmates. His parents were ashamed of him.
Let me tell you why.
The answer is, because this is India. This is India’s tradition, her old-fashioned but respected culture. Is homosexuality really such a terrible crime? Shikhar didn’t get to choose his gender, nor his birthplace. If he had been born in a developed country, like the US, he wouldn’t have had to face the ‘shame of being gay’ in India. We want to develop, but we aren’t ready to change our mentality. We can’t even talk freely about it. Because we are COWARDS. We are afraid to go against the strong hatred for asexual, bisexual or homosexual beings. I just don’t understand- what is so wrong in liking someone of the same gender? What is so wrong in not being a pure ‘male’ or ‘female’?
We are the youth of this country, more powerful than any other age group. The future lies in our hands. Love is a freedom. A freedom that is just as essential as the right to equality, the freedom of religion or the freedom of opinion. If we want to develop, we must accept the freedom to love and be anyone of our choice as important as our other rights. To make a change, we must begin from ourselves.
Now that’s up to us.
That’s up to you.
~ Urvi Shukla, Amity International School, Noida
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