Memories in the Rain

“Because men simply aren’t supposed to love each other.” A boy in his early 20s sat across me
with a resolute face, while we sipped on our respective glasses of whiskey. He sat on the bed in
a small room with two pairs of open windows diagonally facing each other. The room was dark
and was only rendered visibility by a string of yellow fairy lights that graced a side of the wall.
Even in the shade of the dim yellow glow, one could make out the repression in his unflinching
eyes. An unweary clump of curly hair dominated his forehead but a particularly small nose and
the recurring twitching of it caught most of the attention. “it’s just how it is.” he confirmed. Sudhir
had been my “friend” most of my adult life. I had been a dreamer of 20 and he had been a
hesitant boy of 18 when we first met on the internet. We held ourselves vehemently, making
dramatic sculptures in the shadows on the wall, behind shabby curtains in my rented flat; but
our hands wouldn’t dare touch in public. For me queerness had been an absolute inspiration, a
glittery rope to wear around my otherwise mundane middle-class life. Queerness had been the
reason I laughed harder than others in a room, it had been why I danced alone fanatically to
Bad Romance with indiscriminate throws of hands and legs to the side and cared nothing of it.
For Sudhir, it was a defect, an impairment that lingered despite much resistance. It was a secret
that was increasingly growing difficult to hide under the pillow. It leaked into the walls and the
bedsheets and slowly into the silhouettes on the bed, into silent evenings at the Ghats. As I
sought comfort in Sudhir’s touch, he was fighting his own fight. Under the strain of a society he
loved so much, he had eventually found release in adapting an essentially chauvinistic
character. A brooding gloom would often pull me into a feeling of detachment and contempt
every time he would sneer at an effeminate man. But it would all have dissipated when I would
see his bronze face catch the afternoon light. A sketchy stubble would define his firm jaw. In the
afternoons of January, his eyes would remind me of rain. His over-worn navy blue shirt would
carelessly fall over the broad shoulders and a masculine chest; I witnessed all his inhibitions
wash away in those sweet sweaty afternoons. Nothing much had changed I told myself, a week
before Sudhir was going to get married, I had seen nothing change. “Do you recall what it felt
like when I pulled you close and kissed you an hour ago?” I asked as softly as I could. He
paused. After a glass and half of some cheap whiskey, he had already been quite drunk. He
looked into my eyes with a kind of hurt that defeated all logic. It had just begun to rain, the all-consuming showers of mid-June, fulfilled the need for a reply.


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