To Goddess, With Love

28th May, 2018


My dear Oindrilla, 

Just got your wedding card via email. Congratulations! I will not be able to come. I am sure you understand. I don’t want to make things even more awkward for Subhashish. I don’t think he knows we are in touch. Let things be that way. 

I wanted to write this letter the old-fashioned way, by hand. It is a lost art.  I pulled out my old fountain pen, to write this letter. I wanted to write on handmade paper, but I thought that would be too much. So, this simple A4 size paper should do. No frills. No tassels. But I had to start with the श्री. I can see you rolling your eyes. But I was raised that way. I am that American Hindu that you young Indians love to make fun of. Those whose lives paused the day they migrated to the USA. Those who genuinely believe that the India they left behind was much better than their American dream. I am that character played by the brilliant Tabu in the film. “Namesake”. Did you see it? (The book I am told was better.) 

But I am so happy for you. You got your green card, and your girl. Good for you. You are living the life, I so wanted to live. Not that mine is bad. But it is not the same. Oh my, do I sound jealous of you.? Maybe I am. It is okay to be jealous of young people. All old people are. I was jealous of you the day I saw Subhashish look at you the way he did, every day, you were married. I was no longer the main woman in his life, his Goddess. He had his own Goddess, one who had been brought for him, just for him, all the way from India. Well, he brought you. We just went along. We were happy he did not want to marry those awful American Hindu girls. We were happy he was getting a good Indian girl from Delhi, educated, and cultured. We were nervous that you may not adjust to his American ways. And you took us all by surprise. 

I have a confession to make. Hence, this letter. I have been meaning to tell you for a long time. But did not have the courage. I saw you with Ankita on your wedding day. You were in the bathroom of the hotel, holding hands, and you let it go when you saw me. I saw the look in your eyes, your exaggerated excitement on seeing me, and I knew at that moment that Ankita was not just your friend. She was special. I thought, just like me, you were crushing your dreams to marry a man to make your parents happy. And hoping America will take away the pain. It never did for me. But you had other plans. And what a plan, what strategy… You, using marriage to get to America, Ankita using the college route… America is truly the land of possibilities. I wish I could do what you did. Walk away from my marriage as soon as I got my American citizenship. But these ideas are new. No one thinks like that. Your generation has more freedoms than you can imagine. 

I loved you more than a daughter-in-law, because you were just like me, in so many ways. I hoped you would make Subhashish happier than I made Binoy. I knew it would be tougher for you. Binoy was a kind man. He respected my wishes. If I did not want him to touch me, he would stay away. Subhashish is a go-getter. He would not accept a no. I feared for you. I know what happens to women who say no. We all do. But you were good. He adored you. I think you adored him too. Sometimes I get angry with you. He is after all, my son. And I think you used him. You used us. But then I calm down. Your elaborate plan helped me. Your arrival helped me. I felt so close to you, in ways few can understand. 

It is in America that I heard this word ‘lesbian’. I still don’t know what’s the word in Bangla. Or Hindi. I heard America use this word as an insult and later as an identity. I have heard friends giggle about ‘lesbians’ and I have laughed at jokes about ‘those’ girls. I had reconciled to my simple life with my non-demanding husband and entitled son. It was a good life. A rich life. How many Indian women can say they have two cars in their front yard and a swimming pool in the back yard and a three-storeyed house? My friends in India were all envious. Even Vidya, the girl I loved, who never knew and still doesn’t know my feelings. Oh my God, am I making any sense? Your wedding card is bringing back so many memories. I want to write this down and put it in an envelope and send it to you, as a sign of my love. Because I genuinely want you to know I don’t hate you for breaking my Subha’s heart. In fact, I love you for helping me discover mine. 

I am also writing this letter to give you some big news. Sit down. And prepare yourself. 

I came out. Yes, I did. I took your advice and came out. Not just to myself, but to Binoy too. Not Subhashish. I am too scared of telling him. I saw how he behaved with you – the awful language he used. If he does the same to me, I will not be able to handle it. I understand that he was hurt. But the language… We come from good families. We don’t use such words. I did not know he used such words. I was always proud that my son, even though he was raised in America, never used such words. But then I saw him lashing out at you, at home, in public, in court. I was so ashamed of him. I just could not be supportive of him. To lose your grace and dignity, is just not done. I apologize for all that he did. I understand his grief, but I will never forgive his meanness. Those words… I am scared he will use them against me too. And that would be too much for me to bear. 

I am glad you living your life, Oindrilla. I am glad you found a job, a girlfriend. Now you will have a wife. I am glad you are getting married. I wish I was there dressing you up. I wish I could oversee the wedding ceremony. For the sake of all women like us, who have to crush our desires and make everyone else happy. We are Goddesses, aren’t we? We are given to make people happy. No one asks us if we are happy, with what we are given. We are Lakshmi’s pot, Saraswati’s lute, Durga’s sword, useful in other people’s hand. Not allowed to decide where we want to go, what we want to do, what food we want to serve, what music we want to make, whose throat we wish to cut. 

I am happy for you my dear ex-daughter-in-law. I am happy you are living the life you want – and not one that we want you to live. I was so proud of you when you came out. I was torn between wanting to support you and comforting my son. You broke his heart, but you helped me find mine. 

Binoy took the news gracefully. For a moment I thought he would crack one of his unfunny jokes. Thankfully, he did not blame you for my declaration. I was terrified of that. Everyone will say that. We all want to believe that our people are pure. We all want to believe that our people get polluted by others. Binoy never mentioned you even once. All he said was: do you want a divorce? And then he cried. 

His reaction surprised me. It was not what I expected. I held his hand until he regained his voice. He placed his other hand on mine. He was terrified I would leave him. That night we spoke. And he cracked his unfunny joke. He was glad I was a lesbian. So, all those nights when I rejected him, it had nothing to do with the fact that he was short, fat, bald and ugly. We laughed. Binoy is spectacularly ugly. There, I have said it. Even my mother said it. Everyone knew I married him because I could go to America. It was my escape from Kolkata and those unending political debates. I had to make a baby and then I would control the household. It was advice my grandmother had given me a long time ago. Remember, even Goddess Durga’s husband is useless, leaves her to do all the housework, but she rules the divine household, she told me. Every Bengali girl has heard this. Take charge of the household. I just wanted mine to be in America. So that I could enjoy a life my friends would envy. I would never get to kiss Vidya, I would at least have a car. Things would satisfy me. 

They do, right? But not entirely. It great to sleep in a huge waterbed, in an air-conditioned room. But then you see that ugly husband who owns the bed, and you, and you want to throw up. Luckily, kind and sweet Binoy never behaved like most men do. He treated me with dignity and respect. I love him for that. And I loved him even more when he cried. He feared losing me. He feared being alone in his big house in America. 

Which brings me to the second big news. Binoy asked me who was the girl who had converted me. Yes, he said converted. I confessed it was Penelope. You were the one who told me that Penelope was into me, that she was not just an American who loved yoga. You hinted that her friendly nature was something more. It was. She would kiss me, every time we had a private moment. At home, at school, at picnics. I think she forced James to be friends with Subhashish only to be close to me. I did not mind. I think I even reciprocated those kisses, but kept my distance, enjoying her attention. But when you left, and all hell broke loose, she held my hand and we confessed our love for each other. Twenty years of friendship and unspoken love. She never asked me to leave Binoy. As a single mother, I think she understood loneliness. I told Binoy about Penelope and he said – yes, he said – that we should all live together in the house. Can you believe it? Binoy, the radical Bengali, suggested we should all three live in the house together. I said Subhashish would not like it. And he said, Subhasish is an American raised in San Francisco. He better live up to the city’s reputation. 

And so, my dear Oindrilla, Binoy and Penelope and I are living in the house that was once your home. There will be no marriage here. But there will be love. A different kind of love. A mature kind of love. Of people who respect and care for each other, who fear loneliness, and know the value of companionship. And if you and your wife ever want to take a vacation, we have a guest room, and a swimming pool. We can call Subhashish to join us – but I guess he won’t come. 


Your ex-mother-in-law,

Also, a lesbian,

Beloved of Binoy and Penelope,


(A short story by Devdutt Pattanaik, )

Baby Steps, Short Gay Film

Baby Steps is one that caught our undivided attention! A beautiful, heartwarming and lighthearted 10-minute short film about a young man coming out to his mother about being gay and his mother in turn talking about her new relationship. The film truly captures the nervousness, resistance and hesitance that comes with falling in love. From a son introducing his gay lover to a mother coming out of her shell to talk about finding love in loneliness. There are some things we take for granted as children, but a mother’s unconditional acceptance should never be one.

– Akansha Bhatia, This Short LGBTQ Film Is A Must Watch For Its Message On Love

“I’m at Bandra station thinking of committing suicide…”


Umang Sheth, a founding GB member, since 1998, desperately wants to help and reach out to guys who are low and depressed. In his own words, he wants “to make them feel safe, confident and hopeful.”

Who better to give a testimonial for him than one of those he helped.

“I stood at the edge of the platform of Bandra station. A local train may pull into the station any time now. I should jump in front of it. That would end my life or it could make me handicapped for life. I didn’t want both the scenarios to happen. And I did have the power to stop both from happening. But I was so fed up with my life. Both personal and professional lives were giving me nothing but disappointments. I had moved to Mumbai thinking I would be able to live a life much happier. It is the city of opportunities, love and friendships. At least that’s what I got from the movies I watched. But work always found me lacking in something, made me stressful and feel as if I was good for nothing. The only days that released me from work were weekends. But I ended up feeling alone during those days. I try to chat with someone, my looks and non-availability of place came in between. It was as if I kept on getting rejected by each and every guy I try to have conversation with. I really can’t pin-point what is it that pushes people to suicide. It will not be because of one single incident. It will be because of cumulative of incidents that could be happening over a period of time that makes them feel worthless. I guess that happened with me too. I did not want to jump in front of the train. I know my parents would be shattered. Actually the thought of possibility of being disabled and the emotional trauma I could be bringing to my parents were preventing me from taking that drastic step. But had I taken that step, I don’t think anyone would have figured out the reason. I don’t think anyone would consider the possibility that I was going through depression. Why?

Because I don’t think depressed people would want to tell their friends or relatives or even family that they are feeling terrible. Revealing that would mean you are shattering the image that you were building up in front of them – that your life is all okay and may be even happening-of-sorts (that’s what Facebook and Instagram makes us do, right?). If you let the cat out of the bag, you start having that nagging thought that now how would your that friend / relative in question be thinking about you. Would he/she be feeling sympathetic, would he/she be thinking less of you, would he / she be mocking me in his / her thoughts. In the end, it feels like it is better to keep everything bottled up inside – risking of pushing yourself into even more depression until one day you no longer can take the negativity and you snap.

For me also, I didn’t want to tell my parents or friends what I was going through. Revealing my depression means I will be expected to answer lot of questions. And the thing with depression is you can’t exactly pin-point to a single cause or incident for the occurrence of it. At that point of time you neither have the energy or will power to go through and analyse all those matters. That’s why I feel confiding to a “helpful stranger” is the best option. Revealing to that stranger that you are not fine can only result in two possibilities – one he/she will remain a stranger and because he/she is a stranger, you will not be that much bothered about what he / she will think about you. Two, that stranger can turn into a friend. Both will have one positive impact. You have told someone that you are not feeling fine and it’s like you are releasing some amount of steam that is being built up inside a pressure cooker. For the fear of two possibilities that could happen – becoming disabled and traumatizing my parents – I somehow had the thinking of calling Sachin Jain. I don’t know why I chose him. He picked up the phone and I told him I’m at Bandra station thinking of committing suicide. Because he was far away from Bandra and would not be possible to reach quickly before I do try to suicide, he called Umang Sheth. Umang quickly called me and he started talking to me, trying to pacify me. And it was working. After few minutes of talk, he told me to take the next local and come to his home. And it is just that one moment you will feel like committing suicide. If you are able to escape from that terrible moment, you are fine.

At his home, he spoke to me a lot. And it was a nice feeling to be hugged. (I think depressed people need lots of hugs.) By the next day, I was feeling much better. All thanks to Umang. So from a person who has suffered depression and still goes through bouts of depression from time to time, it is okay that you are feeling low, that you do not want to open up to familiar faces. But do not let that steam build up inside you. You have to vent it out and for that you can reach out to people like Umang and Sachin. I know they would not judge you, but even if they did, you are not losing anything in front of them. But you will be helping yourself to understand about you better. So do reach out to them if you are feeling low, you are feeling suicidal, you are feeling worthless. You do not have to compare yourself to any other person to feel worse or better. Just open up to “helpful strangers” and let off that steam!”

You can call Umang at +91 93230 34620.

A Mother’s Take

They say the purest love is unconditional. Watch a glimpse of how it can be.
#supporttheparent #gaybombay

Wentworth Miller’s Bold Show of Support for LGBT Rights


Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller, best known for his role on the Fox series “Prison Break,” came out as gay on Wednesday in an open letter in which he declined an invitation to be a guest of honor at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival in Russia.

Citing Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay “propaganda” law, Miller, 41, said he “cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”

In a letter to festival director Maria Averbakh, and published by GLAAD, Miller, writes:

Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.

However, as a gay man, I must decline. I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government.

The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.

Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.

“Wentworth’s bold show of support sends a powerful message to LGBT Russians, who are facing extreme violence and persecution: you are not alone,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz.

“As people from across the globe continue to speak out against Russia’s horrific law, more celebrities and corporations should follow his courageous lead in openly condemning Russia’s anti-LGBT law,” added Cruz.