It was a silent night, and Sabhi, for the first time of her life, was feeling a sense of peace that she thought she would never feel in the current surroundings in the town. She leaned herself against the railing, with breeze of the sea sweeping her uncertainties and questions away. She flickered at her watch. It was 8.10. She is late. But, Sabhi will wait.
Sabhi thought that in this current society and with the circumstances surrounding her life, she would never manage to find the one she always wanted to find. Whether Karthi could be classified as the one remains to be seen, but nevertheless Sabhi will give it a go, and she wouldn’t be smitten if she faces disappointment, even if it comes in the form of Karthi’s no-show tonight.
And it wasn’t until twenty good minutes later that Karthi finally showed up.
“I’ve been looking for you,” Karthi said.
“I’ve been here for quite long,” Sabhi said.
“Didn’t expect you’d be at this spot. This is a quite big place,”
“You have something against seaside scenery?” she asked.
Karthi just smiled in return.
“We’ll have plenty of time to know what we are against and what we are for,” she said after a while, seemingly enjoying the breeze as well.
It is different for Karthi now. She’s 27. She was about Sabhi’s age when she first realized about her sexual orientation. It wasn’t easy to admit. But the fact that she was an orphan made everything easy. Many thought she had become disillusioned with life so much that she opted to change her sexual orientation. But they would never understand. They would never understand that it is a feeling, a preference, an urge. Nothing to do with being mentally ill. If she needs to be examined as being mentally ill, then the same should apply to all those who were in love and claiming they were bad about each other, even if it is with the opposite sex.
Karthi chose to be open about it. She didn’t go about shouting it out but definitely she gave a straight answer whenever the topic came during discussions or conversations. It slanted a few mouths, it made few people hesitate, it made few people taken aback, and it even made a few make a desperate retort that it must have been a joke. No, she is not a joke. This is what she is about. How she is different from others. She joined gay activist groups and walked during any little rallies they had. Even then, Karthi found it hard to discover another person of her kind. She was grossly outnumbered by the population of males who come out and claim they prefer their own sex. But where are the females, she wondered. But she knew the answer all along- Esther.
They held hands like other best friends among girls. They did everything together. Esther had a boyfriend, but she would rather spend time with Karthi. They hardly separated. Holding hands had transformed from a show of friendship, now to a complete habit. A habit difficult to erase. Esther held Karthi’s hands even when the three of them are out with Esther’s boyfriend. Karthi, however, wasn’t about to ask any questions. She didn’t realize what it was all about, it all seemed fine to her.
It was one day in a place like the one she is standing at today, when there were hardly any people at all late into the night that the holding of hands transformed into a static hug. They were having laughs. They were not drunk, not high, haven’t talked about experimentation. There was that moment, when Esther looked at Karthi, static, after laughing. She still laughed, for no reason, but wouldn’t take her eyes off Karthi. Karthi looked at her back, and found an urge she never had before in her life. How many guys had she gone out with before, none seemed to have given her this same feel. This is something beyond she had ever imagined.
And when Karthi finally realized and admitted to herself in the veins of her mind about who she is, Esther was already planting a strong, long kiss on Karthi’s cheeks. She looked again at Karthi, eager to see her reaction. No words were spoken. Karthi returned the kiss- to the lips. And for the first time in her life, she blushed.
It set off a new chain. They met often, mostly in secluded places, and unleashed the couple that was hidden from public view. Esther convinced Karthi that she wasn’t ready to admit it to the world, and she needs to ease her boyfriend into knowing about the truth. She did not want to hurt him. Karthi and Esther were a couple, and very few people suspected. But Karthi was open when needed to be. She admitted about it to her friends, when the topic came about. But more open Karthi was, Esther distanced herself in the public spectrum. They still had their private moments.
Karthi did not like being treated as such after sometime, she demanded for an open relationship. “I’m not your mistress Esther,” she once shouted at her over the phone. She was like a mistress to Esther. She had to sneak in to spend time with her loved one, and this was taxing. She did not like the fact that she had to act like mistress even though she only loves like a normal human being. She wasn’t committing a crime. Why, then, it had to treated with so much secrecy?
Esther flew to UK that year-end. She never came back. She married her boyfriend couple of years later. Karthi received the photographs. She could see that Esther wasn’t happy. But she did not have the courage. That is when she decided, no matter what happens, she will have the courage for herself.
Now, here Sabhi is, having come purely trusting Karthi. She felt that he roles have changed. Sabhi is as vulnerable as Karthi was when she was with Esther. But Karthi isn’t Esther. She has the courage.
They sat on the bench, and the clock was already ticking at 1. They have spent more than four hours together just talking. They did not hold hands, except for a few awakward glances at each other. Sabhi still did not know how to go about it. What she knew is that she liked this dynamic, bold, matured woman who is sitting beside her. It was an attraction unlike the ones she had previously with any person.
Karthi knew how the magic would feel. This time, it felt even better. They weren’t even physically touching. Karthi leaned towards Sabhi. Sabhi, in a jerk, hesitated and shied away. Karthi smiled- she knew what it was all about. She planted a kiss on Sabhi’s cheeks. Sabhi blushed for the first time in her life. And Karthi knew, now she has responsibilities. She is responsible for this sweet, beautiful young girl. She needs to be there, just like this moment, where she is giving her shoulders for Sabhi to lean on. Karthi stroked her hair.