(As told to Shubham Lamba)
They say it isn’t easy to find love, let alone true love. And if you’re a gay man in India, you’re doomed lest what you’re seeking is nothing close to love. I too found a lot of the ‘other’. Sex was quick, easy and bursting, but love was scarce or worse absent in those quick hookups, and scantier the next morning when you find yourself walking back to your office from a stranger’s house. It was in one of those perpetual dry spells that I met Garvit. He’d just just finished his PhD in the States and had come back to teach at an university in Gurgaon. We had met through that same app, and as much as I had thought it would be a scanty-love-overpowering-sex evening, it didn’t turn out to be so. It was love at first sight for him, whereas for me, it was pure (and perhaps mere) fascination.
He wanted too much
He was a brilliant young man in his late 20s, had many accolades to his name and did extremely well for himself at such a young age. Most importantly, he was out to his parents. All in all, he was the person I could imagine waking up to every morning and live that fabled happily ever after married life – the perfect husband material.
But perfection, most times, doesn’t come with sanity. His love for me verged somewhere around lunacy. He would often write long mails with profound expressions of love, and if I wouldn’t respond, he would call, cry, weep and lament over phone. There would be times when I’d visit him and he’d beg me to stay back and cling onto me like a pet scared that I may leave. Most of all, he’s obsess over who I met and who were my friends, verging on extreme insecurity. It was crazy, desperate and maddening.
I was young and not ready for it. We had an age gap of almost nine years. He had lived through most of his broken relationships and was now seeking something absolutely concrete. I was yet to live everything I hadn’t.
Being gay, one is naturally open to experimenting and trying everything. I was no different, and wanted to explore the world as well as my own self. I was unsure. In spite of telling him various times that I’d need some time, he sort of kept obsessing over me. There came a time when I had to flee. I just left without saying anything. I broke all sorts of connections – WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram. It pained me and I still did. The machinery of my unconscious was unknown to me and I didn’t want to figure that out. I only wanted to leave.
I had a fling
And though I did so, I couldn’t get over the warmth he brought to my life for all those months I was with him. In an attempt for diversion, I’d frequent some of those gay parties around South Delhi. And it was in one of those parties that I met Shikhar. It was New Year’s Eve and after Garvit, I seemed to seek something that I wasn’t fully aware of. Perhaps I sought the opposite of love – the strange longing that cannot be named. It was something that verged on wanting that fabled romance and yet moving away from it. I wanted to love and yet didn’t want to ‘be’ in it. I wanted to be a flying kite tied to a distant navigator. Tied, but flying. And then this guy, Shikhar gave me that.
I knew he was here in India for a few days, I knew he would leave and I will only be left with a huge hole in my heart, yet I let myself be swayed. He seemed to be confused about his sexuality and I became the catalyst for his realisation. I used that as an opportunity to falsely make myself believe that he will perhaps stay. He’d stay for me! But that didn’t happen. His MBA break seemed to be over and he was about to return to Sydney. It was just a quick connection, like the way it happens with all us millennials.
And I suddenly realised that I would be in a mess now. We kept chatting over WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and yet the distance didn’t seem to vanish. I struggled once again. He did express his love over and over again, but the fading happened from my side. I let it happen, for it pained me, the knowledge that we cannot be together and be with each other – at least for now. He still ghosts me on social media though.
My forever man?
After a month I was back on the dating apps, and strangely in Garvit’s life too. We happened to meet accidentally in Select City and he happened to be with his new boyfriend. Yet, I could see the love for me in his eyes was not gone. He seemed to be fine and we didn’t fight like many of my friends who would break up, have horrible fights and patch up. We neither fought, nor tried to patch up.
I had started dating this new guy, Kabir. He was tall, fair and humble. He was also out to his parents and over one of those lazy Sunday dates, he said he’d like to settle down with a partner. While I had rejected the very idea of ‘settling’ a year back, I thought I wanted it too. I took the plunge. I thought, for the longest time, I would not be able to survive it and this too would end on some obscure note – either by my foolishness or by ill luck. But that didn’t happen.
His phone calls were short, and precise. We wouldn’t go out much or meet with desperation running through our veins. Kabir felt extremely calm as a person, and whenever I’d tell him that relationships didn’t come naturally to me, he would ask me to give it time and not bind myself to a specific idea of love. He even asked if I would like to be in an ‘open relationship’ for a while, so that it didn’t stress me out. He understood my young and puerile heart completely and allowed me that space to be myself, and most importantly the pace to fall in what we call love. With him, I realised I could stop myself from desiring the ‘craving’ for love and start believing in ‘love’ the way it is.
No limit to love
Garvit and I still meet and we are surely more than friends, but perhaps less than lovers. Kabir till date remains unaware of this. In his head, Garvit is history and that old love too. But that isn’t so, for Garvit loves me and I do too, but that remains unsaid. He’s okay with me being with Kabir. While with time Kabir’s love now is overpowering and intense in its own way, I try to justify it by reminding myself of how I felt towards Shikhar. He still ghosts me and I steal a few conversations on Instagram or Snapchat. I know I may be judged, but through the abundance of these kind hearted beautiful men, I have realised that for the seeker there is no dearth of love. Neither in this world. Nor in this country.Published in