My Son… Akash
I can never forget the day my son brought home the love of his life. I won’t deny it, I was a little surprised by his confession in the morning but nothing could have prepared me for the revelation of the night.
It was a Saturday, I remember I was getting ready to go out and Rajeev was reading the newspaper when the phone rang.
“Can you answer that, Rajeev?”
“Uh…huh…” he said vaguely.
I knew he wasn’t listening. Whenever he is reading the paper, it seems he is transported to an alternate universe. We have been married for 32 years but I still don’t understand his fascination with murders and robberies and rapes.
I tried once more, “Rajeev, the phone! I’m busy, please answer it.”
I raised my hands exasperatedly and walked across the room to answer the phone.
“Hello!” I said rather roughly.
"Hey, Ma! Fighting with dad again, huh?”
“Akash!” I covered the mouthpiece of the receiver and yelled to my husband, “Rajeev, its Akash. Come.”
I turned my attention back to my son, “Akash! How are you? How was your trip? I thought you were supposed to come back tomorrow?” Then I realized something,
“Wait. Where are you? Why are you not at home? Are you all right? You are not in a hospital, right? Or worse in jail??” (Motherly love...You won’t understand)
“No Mom, I am not in jail… or in a hospital.”
“Thank God! Then why are you not at home? You are back right?”
“Yes ma! I am back. I just had to go to the office first, hand in some documents. I will come home for dinner.”
“Good! I really need to talk to you about something or rather someone.” I said mischievously.
“That doesn’t sound good,” I could sense some tension in his voice.
“No, it is good…all good. You remember Mrs. Gupta’s daughter Simi?”
“Uh…No, I don’t mom. Listen.”
“She was the one who…”
“What?” (My son never shouted at me. Something must be wrong)
“Mom, I have to tell you something.”
(He sounds pretty intense. What if he is dying?? No! No! I shouldn’t think like this.)
“Ma, I am in love.”
(Dear God! This is worse)
“Oh! Is it serious? I mean there is no chance you could meet Simi and…” (I had to try once)
“Mom, I am not going to marry Simi or any other girl.”
“Okay. I was just saying it.”
“I want you to meet the person who has made your son very happy.”
“Fine. Why don’t you bring her along tonight?”
“Uh…mom…uh…never mind. I’ll see you tonight. Bye.”
“At least tell me her name. Akash?”
But, he had already hung up. Now what will I tell Mrs. Gupta? How can he spoil my plans for his marriage? How could he fall in love without telling me? Then another thought came into my mind. What if this girlfriend turns out to be one of those women who train men and then turn them against their mothers? Those “Komolika” types of K-serials? No! No! I have faith in my son’s choice. He will choose a sensible, intelligent girl to be MY daughter-in-law and his wife.
That night I definitely met the person my son loved but the meeting was far from what I expected or could even imagine.
It was 7:30 in the evening when the bell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Rajeev said and as an afterthought added, “Remember that you love your son.” I nodded. It sounded a little odd but now, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense.
Rajeev opened the door to reveal my son and another man. There was no sign of any woman. (Maybe they broke up. My mind started working double its speed and I came up with thousand excuses to support my assumption)
“Hey mom,” Akash came and touched our feet, “This is Yash.”
“Nice to meet you Yash.”
“Same here.” Yash replied.
“Where is your girlfriend?” I asked.
Akash looked at Yash and then at Rajeev before looking at me. He took me by the shoulders and said, “You better sit down.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.” (Great! This is what I wanted to hear the whole time.)
“I am in love with Yash.”
I looked at my son with disbelief. Surely this is some kind of joke. He can’t be serious! But, one look at him and my worst fear came true. My son is gay. No, that can’t be true. He is an educated young man working at a reputed post. This can’t happen. I won’t let him ruin his life. I won’t let him ruin our life.
“Rajeev, did you hear what your son just said?”
“I did. I already know. He told me a month ago.”
“You knew?” I couldn’t believe my ears, “You knew and you still didn’t stop him.”
“Stop me?! From doing what, ma? Falling in love?” He said angrily.
“Auntie, I am sorry but…” Yash started to say something but I cut him off, “You! Stay out of it.” I went to my room and slammed the door.
“Mom! Don’t do this. Let me explain.”
“Akash. How could you do this to me? What will I tell everybody, that my son is in love with some guy? I’ll never be able to face anyone. What will I say when they ask me about your marriage? That you are… you are… abnormal!” I didn’t know what I was saying.
“Homosexual. The word is homosexual, mom.” My son replied angrily.
“You are not ashamed?”
“No mom. I am not ashamed of being in love, but I am hurt that you can’t understand my feelings. That you care more about this society then you do about me.” He said softly.
I could hear a murmur before the silence.
Complete silence. As I was sitting in the dark, I saw my Akash as a little boy playing around me. Life was much simpler then. He used to ask me before doing everything. “Ma, what should I wear to this party?” “Ma, should I go to his house?” “Should I go for this interview?” and now he took such a big decision about our life and didn’t even bother to tell me. As my anger cooled off a little, I came out. I saw Rajeev sitting on the couch with the paper.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him. Surprisingly, he put the paper aside and said, “Because…”
“Because what, Rajeev?! If you would have told me, I could have done something,” I said.
“You couldn’t have done anything,” he replied.
“How can you remain so calm? Our son is ruining our life. All my plans, my dreams? What will we tell everyone?”
“Listen to yourself. Akash is not ruining your life or even his own. With whom he wants to spend his life is his own decision. And Yash is a very nice man,” he said.
“I don’t care how nice he is! He is my son’s boyfriend!! Don’t you see anything wrong with this picture?” I asked him.
“I did. When he told me, I couldn’t believe it too. But then I saw how happy Yash makes him.” He held my hand and added softly, “Being in love with a man doesn’t change him. He is still our son.”
My head was filled with the images of my son growing up.
“On the bright side, he’ll always love you more than any other girl.” Rajeev said in a lighter vein.
I smiled (not wanting to) and said, “Where did we go wrong?”
“We didn’t,” he replied.
“Rajeev, our son is a … I can’t even say it.”
“Our son is a homosexual.”
“What will we tell everyone?” I asked again.
Following day, my son moved out and I couldn’t even stop him. Over the next month, I read extensively on homosexual relationships. I also joined a forum on the Internet of parents whose children were in the same sex relationships.
I came to know that many parents had disowned their children because of their sexual preference or many children leave their parents because of the latter’s attitude towards their partners. I missed my son and didn’t want to lose him. After some time, I went to see my son and his boyfriend Yash. Over a period of time, I got to know Yash better and realized that he was indeed a nice man. Soon people found out. At first it was difficult but later they stopped bothering. Now my son and son-in-law (yes, you read right) live in the UK. They are also planning to adopt a baby girl. But I won’t be able to meet my granddaughter anytime soon. I realized one other thing that my son was lucky to spend his life with a partner of his choice while many other are not that fortunate. They can’t even voice their sexual preferences because of societal pressures and outdated rules. As a result they have to suppress their natural sexual preference and get married according to their parents’ wishes. Three years back I was going to make the same mistake but I am glad my husband stopped me. It is true, I was waiting for a daughter-in-law but got a son-in-law instead, but no regrets. Now I am going to be a grandma soon, a modern day grandma.