Our Voices The Orinam Blog

My closet: safe haven, graveyard of dreams

On nights like these, when my mind has nothing to distract itself with except the sounds of the creaking fan, thoughts that I had shackled suddenly break loose.

Flashes of the day ricochet back at me. Amma longingly looking at me as she describes her dreams of seeing me married, giving her grandkids, so she can cuddle and reprimand them, tell them stories  and forcefully feed morsels of food  as they run away from her. She conjures up the spirits of future grandchildren, in hopes that I will bring them to life. She speaks of the qualities my wife would have, and how she would finally have another woman in the family, she could confide to, another daughter.

And as she paints this picture of traditional domesticity, I stay silent. My heart breaks as I try to process these images. I cannot bear to reveal the truth that would destroy Amma’s dreams in front of her eyes, deny her the reality she aspires for.

I wish I were straight.

See, Indian society dictates that you are forever indebted to your parents and need to live your life on their terms, because they gave birth to you. A message that is drilled into your being.

Every time I try to interrupt her fantasies of my eventual marriage and her becoming a grandmother, Amma is quick to remind me that she had to carry me for ten months to give birth to me (an expression commonly used by Tamil mothers), and therefore the least I can do is bring her dreams to life.

Is my entire life only an attempt to repay the gift of her birthing me? Must I live every moment of my life in gratitude to my parents for my very existence?

How can I break Amma’s heart by telling her that I cannot fulfil her yearnings for a daughter-in-law and grandchildren?

That I want a husband, a man instead.

How can I?

I remain ensconced in this cozy closet, drawers filled with desires, dreams and hopes. I wonder… what if I were never to leave? What if I fulfill my parents dreams instead of mine? What will a loveless, joyless straight marriage look like? To have a sham marriage, to fake it till the very end, to not live my truth, to force myself into the supposedly normal life that Amma – and the world – wants me to lead?

These thoughts make my closet, formerly cozy, turn suffocating. I feel the air turn stale, and life ebbing from my body. How will it feel to die, holding close dreams that would never see the light of day? To forever lurk in this closet, with pictures of naked men, scratched off, torn on the sides, photographs of my future husband, his face blurry, pages upon pages of every sexual thought, repressed emotion, and pent up feeling, all decaying with time and disuse?

I shuffle through the innards of the closet and peer through the crack in its door, only to be confronted by complete darkness. No glimmer of light, or hope, in sight.

Maybe the closet is safer after all.

I retreat into its comforting arms, as I enter a dreamless slumber.


Acknowledgements: The image has been adapted from a photo in the Creative Commons.

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  1. I can relate, for Indians South Indians especially its all about conformity to social norms.
    If you don’t conform you are met with lectures,emotional blackmailing,poojas,prayers,advice,examples or whatever else they can think of. And although I do understand that it’s just that this is all they know its sad that they don’t care about the child’s happiness rather they are worried about what the world will think. They have told me that they would rather have a straight dead daughter than a gay alive happy one. It hurts knowing that they don’t love me for me but instead love a made up idea of me. sorry for this rant but all this to say thank you for the poem butterfly boy it truly helped me today and I hope that one day you can find the strength in your heart and understanding in the heart of your parents

    1. Thank you, I am glad it helped. I understand where you come from, I too am from a very conservative family. I remember the time I was going to join college, my parents made it a point to tell me to stay away from ‘those kind of people’ as they put it. They make it a point to actively evade the subject of homosexuality, to change channels, whenever somthing comes up. I don’t even know how this conversation is going to go, but all I can do now is just hope some how they manage to understand, I hope the pieces I write contain snippets of my emotions that can some how reach them and convince them, and make them understand. All I can do now is hope. I hope things go well for you too.

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