I was lost in the misandric streets of my life, in search of something. But knew not where does it lay. All my childhood I struggled to come across my true self. Unfortunately we live in a society, which constantly pushes us to conform to norms. It was suffocating for me, to lead a life directed by others. Even if I wanted to fight back, I couldn’t. Since I knew not how to fight or whom to fight. I always craved for social approval and social acceptance but understood how important it is to accept your own self. Just because I belong to an alternative sexuality, some people told that I don’t belong to the mainstream society and eventually very consciously I refused to be a part of one. For me it was meaningless to follow the stereotypical heteronormative mainstream life. Now that I am an India fellow, as a part of our induction training we had to go to a southern village of Rajasthan for village immersion and lived in a local house for two days. Again that was something many people would not like to do and hence I was excited to un-follow the majority.
I had my own single story of a Rajasthani village. The danger with the single story is not that it’s untrue but it’s incomplete. And assumptions always lead you to alternative realities. I always thought Rajasthani villages to have deserts, barrel lands, cactus trees and few scattered homes and of course no water. The village I went was Roeda, a beautiful place in between green hills. When we reached there, I was amused to see all the hills, jungles around.
We were hosted by *Parvati Nangarji and *Sitaram Nangarji, a local common lower class family living the lap of the hills. I remember from the very beginning Parvati ji started admiring me probably because I looked like her son. She kept on mentioning how in such a young age I am doing all this work staying so far from Kolkata. While asked how old I look she confidently said “beto satero athero ka hoge aap” (you might be 17 or 18 years old). I was laughing and was a little embarrassed (okay happy too since I actually am 23). For her, pronouncing my name was little difficult so she only called me beta and I was calling her bai, which means mother. Then in that afternoon I went out with her in their field, we talked about the village, about the organization she is volunteering in, also about her experience and stories of being a midwife. I remember we were sitting in the terrace in the evening, endlessly talking. After the rain the sky was looking beautiful and so was the nature around. I never felt this close to nature, the irregular raindrops to soothing breeze everything was touching my face but what touched me the most was bai’s love. She made amazing local food for us and very visibly took care of me more. The morning we were coming back I felt a connection with the place and the people there.
I often feel I don’t belong to the urban jungles, here people and their feelings seem so empty sometimes. I was taught from the very beginning whatever we do we should be concerned (read afraid) of a faceless entity we call society. And there I was away from those typical structures in a new unknown world. It’s not that such societal structure does not exist there but I was an outsider to the system and hence excluded. It wasn’t difficult for Parvati ji to accept me since I didn’t challenge her belief system. I was a fancy urban educated kid for her. Or maybe I did challenge her beliefs but that didn’t mattered for her. She was the oppressed one in the picture and I was the privileged one, this is what I assumed. But I am not so sure anymore. Here I was, I just wanted to be loved and accepted. That is something all my life I craved for. And here she was, giving me time, care and comfort.
While leaving the village I was just wondering that maybe I am seeing the village for the last time, walking the muddy lanes for the last time, maybe I will never see these Aravallis again, I will never see bai again. For a moment I felt something in my throat, something not very heavy but something that can’t be explained through words. It stayed there for a while until the next day in the induction workshop we were given a task to express our feelings regarding the village immersion in a couple of lines. And this is what I wrote, when I got back.
Lonely, rejected, hurt, lost in the jungles of Aravalli he finally found the river. That washed away all his pain, touched him, healed him and passed.
*Names changed to protect identity