When I fell in love with him, I accorded him every particle of respect that a spouse would be given. He was loved by my mother, whom he called Biji. My sister, Geeta, who loved him dearly. Geeta is a talkative girl who loves wholeheartedly. He got along with her because he is talkative and loving too. He was more of a brother to her than I could ever be. When he left, she cried bitterly. I broke her heart, over and over again. I am not the brother she always wanted and when he and I broke up I took away the brother she deserved. My kids loved him, like a father. My daughter, especially, would look for his return every alternate day when he came to stay with us. She adored him and he adored her… he would click their portraits regularly. He would have mock fights with my sister and his own sister because they wanted the snaps too – he would play at not wanting to give up the snaps.
I never thought I would be involved in a polyamorous relationship. For reasons explained elsewhere, I spoke to my lover of 16 years, at the time, and he agreed to include the new. Honesty was laid out on the table. And so he was included. He, too, agreed to the dynamic. And post that, as my life and loved ones are witnesses, there was never any discrimination. He was loved. He still is. Because of the wonderful man, he really is.
One of the conditions I have in any relationship, is to see my lover every day. India doesn’t give us the legal right to be with each other. His father declared that I was not welcome in his home. So I would stand at the gate when I would leave him and his sister home. If I had to meet him I would have to wait in the car, so that he would come down and be with me. I could never sit on his bed. I could never open his cupboard. I could not use his bathroom. I could not even stand at his doorway. Because I am homosexual.
But he entered my home. He slept with me on alternate nights. He watched movies with me in my family hall and held my hand on the sofa. He cooked in the kitchen with my mother. He took baths with me in my bathroom. He brought his PlayStation home to share with me. He used the pillow, which referred to on the night of the breakup, “I won’t bend your pillow anymore.” He met all my friends. They saw me treat him as a spouse and they accorded him the same respect. They adored him. I shared every inch of my life with him. He touched every corner of the homes I belonged to. Every object in my life reminds me of a memory with him. It is the same with all the four men who became part of my life over the years. I do not know if it is my fault. It is who I am. I allow them in – in my home, in my bed, in my heart and in my life.
I didn’t realise that in his heart, it wasn’t possible. In time, he believed that I was meant to be the alien, when he was in his home. Perhaps he found new friends who decided that compromise was never a choice. Adapting was not in the nature of love. Bitterness isn’t born, it is created. And perhaps, I was wrong in wanting to be with him. Perhaps, I should not have asked him to make a decision in the middle of a lockdown. Perhaps, I was supremely confident that my family meant as much to him as his did to him.
I think my last fight cinched my relationship. When I asked him to decide who he wanted to be with. I asked him to decide. The family that had rejected him for who he was or the family that had accepted him for he was. I wish I could have accepted him for who he was in his entirety. He had a sister who loved him. But she someone who could never stand by him completely. Because, you see, she too was torn between her own idea of love and sense of duty. And yet –
I appreciate her for who she is. She and I got close over the years and we bonded. I knew where I stood with her. In any fight with him, she had made it clear where her loyalty would lie. I was assured of her steadfastness. I made a mistake by trusting him that his loyalty would lie with me. Ironically, on parting, he accused me of not trusting him. That was the line he chose to take and the fact that he was not happy with me. Of the first, I am aware that it wasn’t true. I trusted him to the point of opening up the core of my heart to him. He is privy to everything in my life. Without a shred of a secret lurking anywhere in my life or the lives of those I love. He knows it and I do.
I made a mistake of thinking that the decisions I made for him against my family would stand as example. I took it for granted that he would choose me. He would love me as much as he did them. This is my constant trait, I rely on the fact that when I love I put the object of my affection first. Over it all. However, it can not always be reciprocated. In fact, it so happens that it never is. Other factors come into play. Love for the family. The feeling of comfort that money affords. The insecurity of your own feelings of love.
As for the second, happiness… oh, the poetic quest for it! Happiness is an illusion. I was not happy all the time. Neither was he. But I understand that being happy is like the tide of an ocean. It never remains static. His idea of what love could be then is different. He always said he loved me Tan90-ly… I’ll never forget this. Because now I realise that I do love so. In time, perhaps, he will realise what it means. Perhaps, in time, he will meet those who understand what he had and chose to give up. Perhaps, in time, he will realise what my family gave him. Perhaps, in time, he will know me better and understand that if he really wanted it to work, we could have worked.
Perhaps, in time, I will realise he just didn’t want to give us further effort. Loving someone Tan90-ly doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. I could never build bridges and then burn them. I can never stop lingering over the places I have been happy in. I can never break away from people I love. I have not confused love with other emotions. Perhaps that is how I can see it have a purpose – it is a tangible entity that can never die… not until I do. My only regret is that there were those I loved who became casualties of heartbreak along with me. I mourn for them. They who opened their hearts, and home, because they love me. Tan90-ly, too.