Cover Story


Reported by: Anuvab Chattopadhyay & Keerthy Menon

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(All names have been changed in order to retain privacy and safety of interviewees)

Reaching Out. Withdrawal. Excitement. Warmth. Hope. Passion. Comfort. Solace. Stimulation. Togetherness… can go on and on describing all the words and emotions associated with love. Though St. Valentine must be turning in his grave with the ostentatious consumerist balloon of sleeve pinned hearts that is blown up on his special day, one cannot ignore the myriad power of love as a driving force for survival, existence, growth and sustenance however you may define it.


When the city puts up red festoons to celebrate this unfathomable emotion or life force as Bernard Shaw may have meant it to be, there are some for whom it is an entire buffet of exclusion to be endured year after year, some for whom the very act of loving is an ongoing trail and some for whom even a little moment of togetherness is short lived in its essence, like painfully mute moths to a flame…


15trans2What are transgenders but a piece of garbage to be mocked at?

Sunita’s earnestness is frightening when asked about love. Her story (Sunita feels she thinks like a woman) started in a narrow washerman’s alley where she endured abuse and neglect at the hands of a drunken father and disappointed mother while the entire male community was ready to give her a lolly in exchange for a little stab of pain or two as she puts it.

I finally found my place amidst people like me, who stopped the mockery and I realized the power I have to frighten the day lights out of people to earn my keep. Sad but true… But what about love?

I chanced upon this cute boy in a Bhowanipore bylane. He stays quite close to my locality as I found out later. The very first day I fell for his good looks and personality. I went up to him, stroked his head and left without taking any money though I had to bear the brunt of it from my seniors later. He was a little terrified as I presumed. A month later, while walking back home I found him smoking at the roadside stall. Upon being called, he came up to me hesitantly and that gladdened my heart…I couldn’t resist myself…

I still remember that stinging slap a neighbourhood uncle gave me…while He was too flabbergasted to react….”Get lost hijra sala…or we’ll drive you out”…

My one and only tryst at love.

All these years, I still bear the curse of a little kiss on the cheek


Of Old Monk and Tagore

“It happened when I was in college…we were on an educational trip to Burdwan. I was always friendly with Rohini though she was a little averse to me at first. Soon, we both connected owing to our love for Tagore among other things. It was a rainy night..the entire gang of girls were celebrating with cheap Old Monk on the very last day of the trip…we’d both gobbled up quite a few pegs and the iconic Tagore ballad Je Raate Mor Duar Guli Bhanglo Jhore was slowly winding its way up to the ceiling. I don’t know when I found myself taking her hand and leading her up the flight of stairs to a little store room on the terrace of the school we were staying at….there, amidst the still audible, lilting strains of the song..we made love….” What happened then?

“Well, two years later, she left for America to pursue her PhD, leaving a truckload of memories behind! Last heard, she’s gotten married to some IT guy in Houston while I have to fend for myself here..all alone…

You know, whenever it rains..I put on that same song on the computer and revisit those memories with the same old peg of Old Monk..I know I have to move on but I just can’t stop myself…Did I mention I’m incurably addicted to the taste of rum for the last few years?…”


My Punjabi Friend120713_2297_1

Devjit is your average middle class boy working at an IT firm, fresh out of a reputed engineering college. Only, for him, Valentine’s Day is an unending torture that he’d rather drown out with alcohol. But why?

Sukhjit was my best friend in college. He alone didn’t allow me to get ragged and didn’t laugh at my shrill voice like the other guys. I used to watch him play cricket after classes and he wouldn’t grudge me the walk back to the canteen for batter fry and tea. Slowly, Sukhjit became a friend, guide, protector rolled into one… we started hanging out..he’d be riled by the others for hanging out with an effeminate weakling like me but simply shrugged it off with a smile….

Not very communicative, he had a heart of gold and immense affection for me. I first realized I had feelings for him when he sent me a gift from Chandigarh during the holidays and I experienced a feeling that has been alien since then. One day, I proposed a sleepover at my place and we chatted into the wee hours of the night and I suddenly found the courage to shut him up with a kiss. He hit me back and I kept kissing him..the routine continued till he finally forced himself on me and ended my miserable longings with a flourish..

The affair progressed and started solidifying into something more when things came to a head one day. I had just stripped off his clothes and was about to delve right into those broad, muscular shoulders when I heard a frightened scream behind me….

I only remember the bottle of empty sleeping father hitting me left and right with that belt of his…Her motionless body inert in its state of shock..that feeling when all worth living for is lost in an instant…the tears…blocking his number..


Never in the world did I imagine that I’d be caught buck naked with another man in front of my mother and that I’d be tearfully breaking up with him at her funeral only a week later…..


Oh Life! The way you pierce together hearts only to snap them apart at the slightest instance. Oh Life with your vagaries and injustice, with your flood of miseries and exclusions, with your hypocritical desert dwellings of dead habit…an apocalypse is nigh but till then, unwarranted, whispering souls contrive to meet in the very dark of night like eternal moths to a flame.

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