Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
Ramakrishnan felt that he is falling from a height to an abysmal depth; he woke up with a start. ‘Oh, it a dream’, he realized. He was in his bed. The rays of sun stealthily entering the room from the gaps between the closed curtains. He took the mobile from the bedside and looked at it. It was 6.30, the normal time only for him to get up.
He sighed disgustingly. Yet another day; just spent time with books, television or just walking.
Life turned into a monotony he thought bitterly; nothing to expect, nothing to get and nothing needed.
What he had achieved in all these sixty-five years. He worked sincerely till sixty. Well, no complaints about his professional life. But, what about personal life?
Nothing. Nothing but a big blank. Zero. Who made it like that?
He sighed again. Destiny…Fate.. God…give some name for that.
His birth as well as life turned into a sort of a punishment; his sexuality. He was born with it. He was confused for long during his adolescence and even later. Why he didn’t get stirred when he saw a girl of his age, instead that stir happened when he met a boy?
But, he didn’t bother much about it at that time. He had a widowed mother, one elder brother and a widowed sister who had to be taken care of by him. He had to be always in financial crisis as he couldn’t get a permanent job till he was thirty-five. By the time he got the job and a sort of settling, his brother got married to his colleague and moved away from the family. Not that, he snapped the connections also as he knew the family of two responsibilities with no funds was of no use.
Ramakrishnan had to take care of his widowed mother and sister. They were penniless. His father was a landlord once and lost everything because he was absolutely inefficient in managing them.
Ramakrishnan couldn’t afford much time for analyzing his sex or sexuality under those circumstances. By the time he settled he was above forty-five. The interest in married life didn’t touch him. He, by then, understood that it was something not meant for it.
In the meantime, he read a lot about homosexuality in magazines now and then and cruised in some places. He had a brief fling with a couple of persons and it was not too interesting to him also. Instead self-help was much better imagining some handsome film star of his time (his favorite was Gemini Ganesan when he was a school boy and later Hindi stars like Rajesh Khanna when he came to college).
So his sex life continued to be like that. Pleasure in an imaginary world. He got attracted to young handsome guys but he never dare to make any pass or developed courage to approach them. Five years back his sister passed away after protracted illness and before 8 years his mother passed away once again after protracted sickness. So where was the time for Ramakrishnan to thing about sex or his sexuality?
He with his income in the course a last couple of years bought a flat in a gated community slightly away from the city. There he used to go for morning and evening walk. He cooked his food himself and only a servant maid came to clean the flat on alternate days.
During the morning walks, he used to go and sit near the playground where he found young boys and men playing football, cricket or tennis. He used to watch them keenly and their well-toned physique which used to stir him. But, he never approached or spoke to anyone. Some guys used to give a smile fo recognition and at times not and many others were just indifferent.
One day, when the tennis ball came and fell at his feet, one smart looking young guy came running to him and picked it. He smiled at him and he too smiled back. He looked 18 or 19 and was quite charming; fair skinned, well built, with a smiling face and powerful big dark eyes.
Somehow, after all these years he instantly fell in love with him when he smiled at him.
‘Hi Sir, I am Dileep. I live in this complex. I think you too..’ he himself volunteered with a smiling face.
Ramakrishnan felt thrilled. He also smiled, ‘Yes, Dileep. I too live here only. Nice to meet you,’ he extended his right hand and Dileep gripped and shook it in a friendly way.
‘You are also a sports person, I think,’ said Ramakrishnan seeing him holding the tennis racket. Dileep smiled and replied. ‘Yes. I am.’
Then he walked towards the court. Ramakrishnan could not control his gaze on the firm rounded well shaped glutes of Dileep in those tight fit white shorts. When he walked it rolled enticingly. Ramakrishnan shook his head in complete disgust of his thoughts.
He sat there for some more time and watched the game Dileep was playing. His vision was always on Dileep’s glutes, firm legs and the hip which shows off whenever he raised his hand to hit the ball. His curiosity turned into depression.
He got up and slowly started walking towards his flat. He couldn’t get peaceful sleep that night. Dileep’s smiling face and body came and bothered him bitterly. He just wondered how and why that young guy came and spoke to him. Because, invariably, the present generation of youngsters never even bothered to acknowledge him. This guy seemed to be probably a docile and good mannered one. Then he said to himself why he should think about something useless about the strange boy with no connections and went to attend his daily chores.
Ramakrishnan was a loner. His friends are books, television and newspapers only. He kept reading everything in the newspaper and read books of his choice and watch television avidly. Since during his central government service he had the opportunity to work in the North, in Delhi for five years he could speak and understand Hindi well.
Slowly, the morning incident receded from his mind.
The next day he didn’t go for the morning walk as he was not feeling well. Thoughts of Dileep coming and playing tennis in the ground came to his mind but he ignored it.
The next day he went for the walk and sat in his usual bench. The tennis match was going on and he could immediately identify Dileep playing. His heart jumped with joy. But, instantly he thought why he should feel happy for nothing and controlled it.
The game was over and the players were packing their rackets, towels etc., and started moving towards their flats. He saw Dileep also collecting his belongings and walking. He was the last to leave the court. He saw Ramakrishnan and walked towards him with a smile on his face. It was surprising to Ramakrishnan.
While he was just wondering how come he was walking towards him, Dileep waved his hand and said ‘Hi Sir. Good morning. How are you?’
Ramki was too stunned for words and replied ‘Thank you. Good morning. I am good.’
By that time, Dileep had come quite close to him. He asked ‘I think yesterday you didn’t come for your usual walk.’ This statement and observation surprised Ramki. ‘Yes. I was not well,’ he stammered.
But, he added slowly, ‘You watch me every day?’ for which Dileep replied ‘Yes. I do watch you coming for your walk and resting here. You are one of the very decent and well-dressed senior person in this campus.’
Ramakrishnan was more surprised. He recovered from his surprise and shock and replied, ’Oh, is that so? If you are really complimenting me, I am thankful for that,’ he laughed. Dileep also smiled and said ‘Yes. I have a tendency to watch how people dress. So I find you dress neatly and elegantly.’
‘Thanks Dileep. where you are studying?’ asked Ramakrishnan.
‘Yes Sir. I am in third year of my course in Mass Communication,’ and he gave the name of the college he was studying. It was a popular college only.
‘Oh. Good,’ replied Ramakrishnan. ‘Where do you stay Dileep, are you in this campus?’
Dileep replied ‘Yes Sir. I stay with my parents in Block Manasarovar. What about you?’
‘Ganga’, replied Ramakrishnan. He added ‘I am a retired English professor.’
‘Oh. Nice. If I have any doubts in English, I can come and talk to you,’ replied Dileep.
It was a pleasant surprise to Ramakrishnan. ‘With pleasure. Sure,’ said he.
That was the way Dileep and Ramakrishnan’s acquaintance started and blossomed into a friendship. Later, Dileep came to Ramakrishnan’s flat one day and discussed about an essay he was writing. Though Ramakrishnan wasn’t well versed in the topic, he could correct his language and expressions for effective communication. Dileep said he too like reading books and he took some books from his house.
Dileep was the only son of Rajan and Nithya. Rajan was in his mid-forties and Nithya was in her early forties. Both were employed and hail from not so educated families but from very decent background. Rajan was in sales and traveling while Nithya was working in a private organization. Though not very rich they were earning for a decent living. They loved their son a lot and one day, Ramakrishnan visited them and spoke to them also. They were very courteous to him and expressed their happiness that their son Dileep being in contact and friendship with an educated and respectful senior like him.
Dileep’s parents that year invited Ramakrishnan to join them for lunch on Diwali day. He also gladly joined the family. The day went off very happily. So Ramakrishnan almost became a family friend and mentor of Dileep. Whenever there was some minor misunderstanding between the parents and son it would be ‘Ramakrishnan Sir’ to mediate.
In between, there was something personal happened between Ramakrishnan and Dileep. Oneday Dileep asked Ramakrishnan.
‘Sir, would you mind if I ask you a personal question?’
Ramakrishnan looked at him. He could guess what his question would be. Anyway, without pre-empting him he said. ‘Go ahead.’
‘Why you didn’t marry?’
They were sitting in Ramakrishnan’s flat’s verandah. For a few minutes Ramakrishnan didn’t look at Dileep and gazing the big neem tree close to his verandah. Then he turned and asked back.
‘Why suddenly you are asking this question?’
Dileep shrugged his shoulders. He said ‘Honestly, I wanted to ask you many times this question but somehow I felt delicate to ask. Today, well…. I thought I should ask…’
‘You see Dileep, everyone doesn’t get everything they want in life. For me there were number of problems which I need to solve. By the time I solved them, I thought it was too late for marriage.’
‘But, many marry at the age of forty also. You could have if you wanted.’
‘I agree. But, I thought I couldn’t’.
‘None there to compel you and ask you this question?’
‘Yes. Many asked and many didn’t; those who knew my family problems didn’t ask.’
‘You didn’t even have a girl friend?’
Ramakrishnan laughed loudly. ‘Yes. I had.’
‘Then you had sex with her?’
Ramakrishnan was shocked with this blatant question. He looked at Dileep. His face was clear as usual but with a question mark and anticipation.
New generation! Thought Ramakrishnan. So he need to give the answer that should shock him equally.
‘I haven’t,’ he stopped for a few seconds and continued. ‘because I am gay.’ After saying this he looked at the expression on Dileep’s face. He could find a satisfying smile on his face which surprised him.
Dileep smiled. ‘I thought so.’
‘I had a gut feeling that you are gay. It is correct.’
Dileep’s outright and outrageous answer shocked Ramakrishnan for a minute. But, he wanted to know how this young guy could identify him as one since so far he hadn’t made any passes or intention to him, though he liked him immensely.
‘I didn’t make passes at you. Then what made you guess so?’
‘Your touch,’ Smiled Dileep.
‘Yes. The touch you make in my body parts, the way sometimes you hold my hands made me realize that you are gay.’
Ramakrishnan was taken aback by the smartness of the boy.
‘So you had experiences with gays?’ he asked.
‘Because I am also a gay,‘replied Dileep with a serious expression on his face.
This answer gave Ramakrishnan a jolt. ‘Are you interested in elder people?’
Dileep replied. ‘No. I like persons of my age group. But I can understand who is gay and who isn’t.’
‘Your parents know about it?’ asked Ramakrishnan.
Dileep shook his head. ‘No. They don’t. I haven’t told them. In fact, I am not very close to my mom or dad. I need a sort of friendship in all relationships. But, that is missing in my relationship with my parents. If I tell this now this would be a shock and will distance me still further. I will tell them when the right time comes.’
After this incident their camaraderie became more significant and they shared a lot about what they have read and Dileep used to tell now and then some juicy stories about his escapades.
All these were ten years before.
Now Dileep is working in Boston, USA for an advertisement company. His smartness and good looks with good communicative and creative skills fetched him that job as soon as he had completed his course.
Since by this time Dileep was old enough to get married, his parents started pestering him. They brought several alliances for him to choose. Dileep was very evasive and never gave any positive answer. He was just dodging the topic and postponing his decision.
However, during his latest visit a month back changed the scenario. One reason for that what Ramakrishnan understood was after living in Boston and moving with the foreigners who are open about this, he developed courage to face his parents. He told Ramakrishnan about that also. So before leaving for Boston, he confessed to his parents that he is gay and he would not be interested in marriage.
This message he passed on to Ramakrishnan after reaching Boston. ‘I came out with my sexuality to my parents before I left India,’ read the message.
Ramakrishnan was taken aback. He sent back ‘OMG. How they took it?’
‘Cool,’ was the reply. Ramakrishnan made a Whatsup call. Dileep cut the call and sent the message that he will talk to him later.
He spoke during the night and explained what had happened. It seemed that initially his mother cried and his father turned restless and asked could it not be cured by medication. Dileep replied to them that it is something inborn like color blindness. Nothing can cure it; though considered unnatural it is natural for a person to be gay, bi or hetero. He finally said that they were in a way came to terms with the fact.
Ramakrishnan felt bad. In his case he was more like an orphan and none harbored any expectations. His single status was beneficial for some and of no significance to many. Might be some would have talked behind his back. He, in fact, happened to hear one or two comments also. Nevertheless, he had crossed that stage by then.
After this incident the communication between Dileep and Ramakrishnan surprisingly started coming down. Whenever, he had a chat with him he used to ask about his interaction with his parents. ‘Oh, Sir. It is quite cool now. I speak to them very frequently (which he wasn’t earlier) and even last time I joked to my mom to find a suitable boy for me. Ha, ha,’ was the response.
In fact, Ramakrishnan didn’t meet or speak to Dileep’s parents after this event. In some way, he was feeling awkward to face them.
But, suddenly a revelation happened. Oneday while walking in the campus he faced Dileep’s dad just face to face. His face turned grim on seeing Ramakrishnan. He didn’t smile. But, Ramakrishnan wanted to be friendly as usual. So he greeted ‘Hello Rajan, how are you?’
Rajan stopped. He looked at Ramakrishnan with great hostility. ‘We made a mistake of allowing Dileep to be friend with you. Instead of showing the right path you have shown him a destructive way of life. Shame on you. You are traitors.’
The anger and venom Rajan spewed on Ramakrishnan shocked him beyond words. True, he expected only a negative reaction from him. But, they have accepted their son with magnanimity but not an elderly person who had only been his friend.
‘I am sorry. I don’t follow what you say,’ Ramakrishnan stammered.
Rajan looked at him with contempt. ‘I understand. People like you will go to any extent to achieve their goals. You have directed my son in a wrong path and now enjoying yourself after fulfilling your animal desires, chee, why animal, they also follow natural rules, but you have absolutely no rules or morals. You have ruined our son and spoilt his future. You will be punished for this. I don’t want to see your face any more. Please keep yourself away from Dileep.’
After these angry outbursts, Rajan walked away without turning his side.
Ramakrishnan stood like a statue. It took him several minutes to come to normal and walked towards his home. But, he felt weak and guilty.
That night he called Dileep. When he picked the phone he could hear lot of noise behind. He shouted ‘Hello.hello..Dileep..where are you? Can you hear me?’
He answered in a gleeful voice. ‘Oh sir. I am in a gay party. Will talk to you later.’
Ramakrishnan was a bit disappointed but, couldn’t do anything. But, he preferred to maintain his distance and silence to Dileep after his father’s outburst. What surprised him was when they have accepted their son as he is, why they should bounce on him for nothing?
In fact, after two days Dileep called Ramakrishnan. He told him what happened and asked him one pertinent question; ‘Did you tell your parents about me and my sexuality?’ The answer was ‘Yes.’
‘They think that I have influenced you to be one like me which is absolute crap, don’t you think so?’ Ramakrishnan asked him.
Dileep laughed. ‘Why you are getting worked up? What is there if they know what you are what you not? Which way it is going to affect you?’
For a second Ramakrishnan couldn’t answer him, but he wanted to make his point. ‘You see. They accuse me of making you a gay. Is that fair to take a blame like that?’
‘Don’t bother about it. Just leave it.’
‘But, I can’t.’
‘You think your image gets a beating?’
‘Yes. Whatever. I am unnecessarily accused for some act which I haven’t.’
Dileep was silent for a second. ‘Ok. Forget them. You go ahead in your life.’
Ramakrishnan was taken aback by his candid statement. Dileep continued. ‘In fact, you have done a service for me. You have been my moral support always. Till I express myself to my parents my real identity was putting terrible pressure on me. That reflected in my behavior also with them. As I mentioned the relationship was shallow and superficial. Now…yes. Now I feel relieved. They know what I am. I feel comfortable to communicate with them. They also.’
‘Ok Sir. I am sorry for my dad’s behavior. You don’t need to talk to them anymore. I am fine. They are fine. We are fine. We leave things like that. I don’t like people going around blaming each other for nothing.’
Ramakrishnan didn’t answer because he had no answer. He could understand one thing.
As long as Dileep was distanced from his parents because he was hiding something important, he felt guilty and uneasy to communicate. Now that barrier was broken. Being a family, they have united. Ramakrishnan is an outsider. He was thrown out.’
Ramakrishnan realized every relationship carries some purpose which is hidden. Dileep needed a moral support from someone to acknowledge him as what he is, especially from his parents. Today he got it. Ramakrishnan’s casualty was a collateral damage. That damage had nothing to neither Dileep or his parents.
Truths are always bitter; but, one had to swallow it. After this chat, Ramakrishnan never received calls from Dileep. Millennials are ruthlessly practical. He didn’t need Ramakrishnan anymore.
More by : Devavratan Kaundinya