Starting over

26 05 2010

It’s like starting over.

Like being born again.

Not like an evangelical Christian, although I have heard that many lesbians are Christians too. Seems like a paradox to me, considering all the ways in which a lesbian just is, all the ways in which you find yourself defying, denying and redefining what it is to be a woman, most of which are surely contrary to any christian teaching? I couldn’t imagine going into church and lining up good and proper, ready to join in the singing with all the other straightfaced, straightlaced, straightpeople – husbands leading, wives following, children and pets bringing up the rear. After fucking a woman you love, can you really imagine straightening yourself like that?

I couldn’t.

All that mad lust and abandonment. And that’s besides the abandonment of practically everything we’ve been taught to honor, respect and obey; all those lessons we spend practically our entire lifetimes unlearning?

But anyway. As I was saying.

Oh yeah. The starting over thing. It’s kind of like when you realize finally, or maybe like some of us, very slowly and hesitantly over a very long period of time – that that’s what it was all about. That all those years you spent trailing around the schoolyard behind that one, to-your-dazzled-eyes abso-fucking-lutely beautiful girl – just watching, (stalking probably,) actually meant something? When you actually start thinking – I like, no maybe I love.



Better not share this information with my mother or sister. Not when I’m twelve and all they’re hoping for is that I’ll win the English prize this year too.

I remember spending every single break at school, munching on a Chinese roll and following the adored one and her noisy gang of friends, everywhere they went. I would watch their games, trail along the edge of the wall as they galloped along, absorbed in their own pursuits and never noticing me. Which was a very good thing too. They would have crucified me if they had guessed what I was doing. But I didn’t really know what I was doing myself, so how could they?

Or maybe like some of my friends who shall remain nameless for now- maybe you had all these furtive but delicious boarding school experiences that put you on the right track since you were six…?

O lucky, lucky.

Falling in love with the little girl in the next bed. Or next desk in class. Meeting behind the rosebushes at the corner of Block C. Exchanging notes. Whispering ‘I love you!’ Holding sweaty hands and feeling terrified but not really knowing why. Kissing.

It just feels so good it has to be wrong.

But as I was saying.

Like starting over. From like, zero. You have to re-learn everything. Everything. The clothes, the shoes, the hair, (Oh the hair!), the whole look. Then there’s the stuff inside your head. All the anxiety. The guilt, the rage, the fear… and maybe hardest of all – the becoming aware. Your eyes open, your body changes, your skin feels different. And all this takes years to get used to. Years of fears. And tears.

And everyone around you behaves differently. Didn’t they?

No? Well maybe you had a smooth transition! Maybe you’re from London or San Francisco or Sydney or some other superfucking cool, self-consciously liberated city like that. Mardi gras and dykes on bikes and everyone out and proud and free. Maybe you grew up with queer parents even. Maybe it was easier to be queer than straight in your neighbourhood. Maybe it was all sharp haircuts, tattoos and piercings everywhere you looked, and lots of great footwear. And everybody fucking absolutely everybody else since they were practically twelve.

O boy.

(Or maybe you’re just too smart to let on to us brown, timid, south asian girls that your experience was pretty much and awkwardly the same. White people/brown people living in white places….must be cool above all, after all. Ha.)

But we’re no hothead paisans…not me, and not my friends. We had to claw our way into the space we have made and a small fucking space it is too. And that’s what I’m writing about, I think. Our space and how we got here. In this third world, war torn, poverty stricken, uneducated, nationalistic, moralistic, feudal, homophobic, chauvinistic, self-righteous, corrupt, militarized, paradoxical, sad and crumbling beautiful city, we huddle together, hoping that no one of us has to leave for any reason, yet unable to withhold support from any one of us who’s lucky enough to go.

This is our life. We chose it, we live it. This is our country. We complain about everything. The people, the politics, the war, the foreigners, the locals, the food, the cost of living, the war, the roads, the men, the women, the neighbours, the schools, the war the war the war. But we love it. Like our horrible Siamese twin, we are attached to it and would miss it if we lost it. You could offer us any city in the world and we might even go. Some of our merry little band now live in Australia, after all. Freezing their asses off, working like slaves and missing home – but loving the law and order, the freedom and anonymity of life in a first world city.

We, on the other hand, are the stay-at-homes who would always want to rush back.

Now we have peace. And here we all still are.

Starting over. At home.



7 responses

27 05 2010

this is so joyously, beautifully expressed

29 05 2010

loved every word! So bloody true!!!

16 06 2010

Why do you want to stay in ‘our country’ (such a scary nationalistic term)? You who speak English, you from Colombo 7, you who have a choice to go or stay. Why are you waving ‘our’ flag? Is it something to do with being a big fish in a very small sea?

16 06 2010

@ bavini, why do you say ‘our country’ is a nationalistic term? surely the country belongs to all its citizens, rich and poor, from all ethnic backgrounds? Also just for the record, we arent big fish, we live on the margins of society as you will see from the blog posts. I choose to stay because this is the only place i feel truly at home!

16 06 2010

It’s just that notions of a country, and even worse ‘our country’ I see as part of the problem, not the solution! ‘Our country’ further delineates, us and them, who is included and who is not. There is always an inside and an outside: straight/gay, local/foreign, our country/not your country.

Do you really live on the margins? I haven’t read many of your blog posts, but I’m guessing if you can write and communicate the way that you do that you aren’t living on the margins in Sri Lanka! Being gay in Colombo within the Colombo 7 crowd isn’t that difficult is it? If you were really marginalized wouldn’t you leave like the hundreds of folks who flee under darkness of night in fishing trawlers each month?

16 06 2010

I find your comment problematic on several grounds:
I don’t deny that being financially secure makes life more comfortable, but that is not the reality of just gay people, it is the reality of everyone! When you equalise having money to non-marginalisation as a lesbian or gay person, it tells me that you have no idea of the legal and social problems that we face.
Re. your comment on people leaving in fishing trawlers: people who want to leave the country don’t leave only as illegal immigrants – they also leave as green card holders and employees/students who will then become citizens of other countries.
It seems to me that you are saying ‘lack of money = marginalisation’ and I think we need a more nuanced understanding of marginalisation/nonmarginalisation.

16 06 2010

Bhavini – all – ALL human beings have a responsibility, if they are halfway decent human beings (and this blog is full of them) to voice their truth and also speak up for things going on in their region. I do in my region + you do in yours – however that region is defined. And criticising the state is anyone’s right in a democracy + a brave act where there is no democracy. Your assumptions here are aggressive – why?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: