We all start out with fantasies and desires. Picking out pieces of details from those we feel attracted to and then building an image out of those details, and almost perfecting that image in our minds as we desire more and fantasise more. I always wanted someone older than me. Someone who was sturdy in body and personality, and yet a die-hard romantic at heart. With lots of body hair, and warmth in his eyes. Someone who would listen to me and someone I could look up to.
And then, someone comes along and I am speechless, later unable to answer to where it all went away. Then, at that time, there is only one person I see, a clear image. Someone with their own face, age, physique, smile, etc., and most importantly, their own mind. Someone who surprises me and teaches me new things I like. Because I am in love. My senses are raw and ever charmed. Everything is all beautiful and new. And I giggle more and more.
And then we part, as it is inevitable.
And then, comes another.
We go back and forth and we always keep them close. Some part of you is always theirs, and some part of them you always hold on to. Certain things they do are just for you.
Days of crushing on someone secretly over the years; but in his case, a few days or so. And one random day I was about to cross the road as I usually do, and all of a sudden, someone reached out to me and held my hand and lovingly guided me across the street. And I felt all dreamy all over. And thus I fell in love with a guy for the first time. There was no future, but still, it was important to capture the moment. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you want it until it happens. Or you know that someone is there for you and willing to lay out his future and discuss with you how to journey through it, and it feels likes it was always there. Just that you never thought you could actually have it.
Come to think of it, the first person I fell in love with might actually have been myself and my own desires and fantasies. I remember calling on god as a child, before I went to sleep, and saying sorry to him for caring for myself more than I cared for others. On the one hand, I tried to wish it away; on the other hand, there was a fear of losing the way it felt good. Homosexuality, I realised, is something that I could not resist but embrace. Secretly so, with my own desires and fantasies being my muse. Not to forget to mention that some people were key in helping me do so. My two grandmothers were that key for me. Never did they ever call me out or abuse me for being ‘effeminate’. We had the usual grandmother and grandchild stories just as everyone else does. But my grandmothers were different from the others who would call me out and make me ashamed of the way that I was. I think they laid the first foundation of self-love in me. Like RuPaul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?!” or rather, If one doesn’t love oneself, how would one know if someone is in love with them?!
As I look back, I could say that it was probably self-defense, a way to make sure that I didn’t kill my desire, at least on my own. But it also entailed an effort to build a wall around myself so that I did not get affected by what the world had to say. Often, loving and being intimate comes with a sense of protection and preservation. Maybe that is why hugs and cuddles are symbols of intimacy and a way to express love and we talk about the ‘locking of lips’. But the more I loved myself, the disconnect between the world and myself grew.
Born queer, the first lesson we learn is that we are different. Others’ narratives are never wholly ours, and vice versa. We could be in the same room watching the same soap opera or movie and be so touched that we have tears rolling down our cheeks, but as soon as the movie ends, we are back to our own interpretation and adaptation of what we just witnessed on screen, in our lives. I guess for heterosexual folks, the scenes can be imitated with most accuracy and also with much pride and glory. But us queer people are faced with taboo and social stigma and a pang in the heart because of it, and all of it we internalise, wrap up in a scarlet envelope and put away. So as I grew up, I began to internalise more than express, and with every rejection I faced, it only got embedded deeper and deeper. Until such a time came when everything was walled in so thick that even the face learned how to cover it all up, all my repressed desires and wishes, so that the world could be conveniently indifferent to them. Often, my queerness and queer desires manifested themselves vividly in dreams over a good night’s sleep, and I would wake up to eagerly go back to them again.
Eventually as I grew up and my horizons expanded from my family, locality and local school to the cities I lived in for higher studies and jobs, I found more and more people who supported me and urged me to bring out and live my repressed desires and shine as a proud queer person. And as I came out and went about looking for what I feel I truly deserved, I found lovers in real life too. One of the persons I am in love with is Jim. There’s something about the way Jim’s hands fall – I cannot resist but love it. To my astonishment, I can’t explain why this is so. But it is the cutest thing I have seen. Jim might shrug when I tell him so, but then he sings and does an act for me, just to see me laugh and be happy. I wonder to myself, “Oh my! Is this what it feels like, to be loved?!” Or to actually feel how it is to kiss and forget all about time and the world.
Remember, how tightly they hold you. And for those moments, you can forget the world and time, and allow yourself to be loved, and only loved. And then you meet the kind that buy flowers and chocolates for you. They try to smell good and come prepared about how to land the first kiss on that date. Some like to tease you and love you more when you get upset. But then they are always there when you are in need. Standing tall, just for you.
Always so painful when it ends but so fulfilling when you recall it. Some of them never leave you. You bestow on them a name and that becomes them. They are that to you and no one else.
For them there is always a smile, and for them time has stood through. Memories are edged in the season of those years in which I met them. We are often told what to want and how to want but nobody tells us who will end up loving you and who you will end up loving. What I do when I am in love was best taught to me by some of the men and women I treasure in my heart. They taught me how to love myself, they made me see who I am, and what I can be. If I know what makes me feel loved now, it is because they loved me so, and now, I know.