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She taught me how to drape a saree in the Western style, even though the style she was used to was the Bengali one.

My maternal grandmother, দিদা, used to live with us and was the closest person I had in my life. Even if I never told her, it always seemed to me that she knew I was gay. To be honest, I don’t know if she really did know, but I do hope she knew.

Once, when I was ten, or perhaps eleven, I was trying to wear my mom’s saree when my grandma came to check up on me. After finding out that I was trying on a saree, she did not become uncomfortable or anything like that. She taught me how to drape a saree in the Western style, even though the style she was used to was the Bengali one. She was never judgmental of any of my feminine traits.

Then, when I was twelve and a half, she passed away. Her death made me scared about what would happen next. Not having her by my side made me succumb to depression. I began doing a lot of things that, now that I think of it, I could have perhaps avoided, and my studies also started suffering.

It had been a habit of mine to stare at male models in magazines posing shirtless, and those in dhotis. The models on the packets in the underwear sections of the mall had a similar effect on me. I realized that I was attracted to men as well, and gradually, I realized that I was attracted to men, period. When Facebook was released in 2008, I made a separate account for myself, a gay one, and was very active there. In the beginning, the experience contained very weird interactions as all I got were old married men.

When I was in college, I understood and decided that I didn’t have to wait for anyone’s approval to be gay or bi or whatever, that I was the one who decided things for myself. Things started to get a lot better when I moved to Bombay at the age of 25. I met people in real life and made friends from the community. Maybe I was still not too happy, but I was kind of happy. I was happier, a lot happier than before. Bombay helped me find my true self once again. I realized that it was my life.

When it came to coming out, I could not even tell my mother. I didn’t tell her, but just cried, profoundly. However, she somehow understood. She told me, “Why are you crying so much? You are what you are and we all love you.” I had some notions that my mother would not understand, but her words were very reassuring. My dad also knows; however, I never really talked to him about it.

I still feel that my grandma is out there, watching over me, and showing me the right path. If I had a way to, I just want to lay down with my head in her lap once again.


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