By Sara Bardhan
For quite some time I treated my bisexuality with a benign attitude. Convinced it could never yield anything but hardships
for me, I had directed my care and nurture toward relationships
that would expectantly bring to me matrimony, motherhood,
and love. Even as a child of nine or a pubescent teen in school, I
knew which desire is condemned and which is celebrated. Now,
I realize that erotics and desire may occur naturally, but imply
deep-rooted power implications. As a fourteen-something, I
would stare at pictures of women on the internet and wonder why I felt so queer. I did not want to be different. I did not want to be part of a community everyone considered filthy and perverted. I was frightened. I wanted to be normal.
In high school, I vividly remember telling my friend how watching
a video of Ruby Rose made my loins tingle—starved of sex education, I did not understand what this strange sensation meant.
A few breakups later at fifteen, I knew I liked women; a few of
my friends did too. It was no secret to those around me. I was
greeted with an occasional, “Are you going to become lesbian?”
but I patiently explained the difference between being lesbian
and bisexual. Despite my newfound confidence, I was sure that at
least in this country, I couldn’t find a woman to love and grow old
with. Queer-specific nightlife in India is restricted to those with
deep pockets and an abundance of disposable income to spend
on alcohol. I couldn’t afford it. I still cannot. Yet, I yearned to be
in the company of people like me. I yearned for the tender touch
of a woman, their soft laughter in my ears, their scent enveloped
around me—but, I dismissed my yearning as impossible.
It was fiction until I found love in my best friend. She trod softly
in my life, loved me gently and so did I. It did not feel strange,
uncomfortable or filthy—I had never felt more comfortable
in myself, honest with someone else, and vulnerable in love.
Bisexuality manifested in me like a second puberty: giddy with
anticipation of perusing a new world. One of excitement, devotion
and purity. When Section 377 of the Indian Constitution was
struck down, I remember frantically calling to tell her that we are
no longer criminals in this country; free to love like everyone else.
Soon enough, I was disillusioned abruptly when the slurs started
pouring in, even from close friends, and I began re-evaluating my
perception of the relationship. I felt small, undignified, washed
away. Even though I had finally discovered queer love, I felt dissatisfied. I was haunted with questions: “Do I love her enough?”
“Am I a con?” “Is there any future for us?” Once my euphoria
had dwindled and the relationship had eventually ended, I felt
empty and doubtful.
Post-break-up, my infrequent Tinder- and Bumble-related escapades had resulted in humdrum conversations, meaningless
hookups and growing emptiness in my heart. Love would not
come to me like this. I have been infatuated with many women,
sometimes even smitten, but to love deeply is an experience that
is not orchestrated, it simply happens to me, I decided.
The truth is, I am still reconciling with being a bisexual woman
in India, but, after my first relationship with a woman, I know
love can grow on barren lands, as well. The sapling of deviance
which I had buried shamefully had sprouted into a queer garden
of Eden within me; laden with the sweetest fruits and traversed
by the most beautiful nymphs.
Love has come to me in strange ways. Meaningful, sometimes. I have
searched for love, like all of us do, in many places; in embarrassing
ways, sometimes out of loneliness, sometimes libido, sometimes existential despair, but love has come to me in quaint places, on silent
nights, whispers, in my sleep, when I least expected it. Love has come
to me when I wasn’t looking for it.
Sara Bardhan is an undergraduate student at Pandit Deendayal
Petroleum University, India, and a lover of Manto, cheese, and