??..And the child that is born
on the Sabbath day
is bonny and blithe and good and GAY..?
There was much hooting and clapping at the last word of the song. Shail managed a weak smile and headed for a drink. His sister was expecting to deliver any day now. It was a small party she was hosting, not too many people.
But Shail was disturbed. There was someone at the party. Someone incredibly handsome and exuding enviable confidence. Shail was disturbed because he was finding it hard not to stare at Cedric.
GAY. It was a word that had haunted him for decades. It was also his best kept secret. Whenever people talked about homosexuals in a mocking manner, he was forced to join them even as he cringed inside.
He watched discreetly now as a pretty young thing went and latched onto Cedric?s arm. He felt an insane flame of jealousy and frustration run through his very being as he watched Cedric use every trick in the book to make sure she fell for him hook, line and sinker.
Shail lit up a cigarette and tried to ignore him, but he found himself being drawn to Cedric again. It was something he had to face time and again. The realization that most of the men he felt attracted to did not even consider him as a prospective partner, that they would invariably be eying some dumb female while he agonized over his feelings for them.
There had been some men, of course, who had returned his looks and who had given him brief spells of happiness mingled with anguish and anxiety.
His adolescence, when he realized his preferences were different from those of his friends, and the years that followed, had been pure frustration, guilt and anxiety.
Once, in desperation, not knowing whom to turn to, he had approached a psychiatrist, only to run from the look of utter disgust and revulsion on the old man?s face.
It was only much later, when Rueben entered his life that he had managed to reach a state of self acceptance and calm.
Rueben -his one true love. How corny that sounded to his own ears, but somehow that was the only way he could describe the feeling. The few months that they spent together had been utter bliss.
Until one day, when Rueben simply packed his bags and left. Since there had been no warning of any kind, nothing to explain the sudden turn of events, Shail had gone into a state of shocked disbelief. For days he refused to leave his apartment. Now he realized what the words – a broken heart – really meant. And pain. Pain that went so deep that it became more real than the person who had given him the pain, so that it took over all the other feelings of anger and betrayal and left only a deep sadness.
That had been almost twenty years ago. Since then he had gone through life mostly alone. There had been other Cedrics. But the feelings always died down as soon as the parties got over. Twenty years and he still hadn?t gotten over Rueben.
He had come to know through his colleagues that Rueben had migrated to the US. He even managed to get his address. He began to write to Rueben. Letters that were woeful, begging, sentimental, demanding, reproving, anguished?.
Finally got a reply. A reply that had left him cold. Rueben refused to come back. Shail swore he?d never write to him again. But three weeks later he sent a ?I Miss You? card. No reply. Two months later, another, less mushy card. No reply. It was something he couldn?t control. All that rejection and yet, he couldn?t muster up the self respect to let go.
He had turned forty the previous week. His family had finally come to accept his decision not to marry. He looked at all the ?normal? folks around and envied them. There were guys who would have happily lived with him, but he turned them all away.
Now as he left the party and walked down the road alone, memories of Rueben came again, this time with an intensity that brought the sting of tears to his eyes. He thought he heard someone call his name. But the fear of being caught crying made him quicken his pace. A hand on his shoulder pulled him around. He turned to see Rueben. His Rueben – a little fat, a little bald, but still his Rueben, smiling at him, noting his tears.
While he would have preferred to howl, he held himself erect with as much dignity as he could muster and they slowly shook hands.
?They have gay weddings in America now. Would you be interested?? asked Rueben breaking into a slow smile.
Shail could only manage to nod, his heart too full to speak.
Author: Delma A- India