Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Changing Society ( short story)

 Sunil was pacing up and down the corridor outside the delivery room of the maternity ward of the hospital.  Anxiously awaiting the news of his third child.  It was almost four hours since his wife Roopa was admitted to a private hospital after she complained of labor pain early in the morning.

After two boys, now aged 7 and 4, the whole family, including his parents who were staying with him were looking forward to welcoming a baby girl in the family.  In fact, in anticipation, Roopa had even got some special girly dresses ready for the baby.

Sunil turned to the door of the delivery room when a nurse, carrying a bundle, came out of the room towards him. 

“It is a baby boy!” she declared happily.  “A pretty boy, no?  See, how much hair he has got”, she continued.

Though Sunil was disappointed that it was not a baby girl, he did not reveal it to the nurse.  He took the bundle in his hands and after cuddling it for sometime, returned the baby to the nurse.

When he went to see Roopa in the ward, she was in tears.

“Again it is a boy.  I wanted a girl so badly”

Sunil held Roopa’s hands and said, “It is God’s wish Roopa, we will accept it with grace”

Since it was a normal delivery, Roopa was discharged after 48 hours and she was home with the baby on a Friday.


Years rolled by.  The baby boy who was named Krishna was growing up to be a beautiful child.  Since there was a delay in taking the child to their family temple in their village for his first mundan (tonsure) ceremony, Krishna had plenty of hair.  Roopa would plait the hair and tie it up with a ribbon. Dressed in a skirt and blouse, he could easily pass off as a girl. The whole family used to admire Krishna dressed in girl`s dresses.  To satisfy their craving for a girl, they even arranged to teach him Bharat Natyam when he turned 7.

Though his brothers Ram and Ravi would tease him about this, Krishna did not seem to mind being treated like a girl by the elders in the family.  He seemed to enjoy it.  As an adolescent, he would even secretly wear his mother’s salwar kameez or nighties and admire himself in the mirror. He was also very fond of cooking.

At 17, Krishna had grown into a beautiful young man.  Fair with glowing skin and curly hair, he was surely a pretty sight to behold.  Not only the girls in that area but even some of his boyfriends used to admire Krishna…and Krishna used to enjoy all the attention!

While Ram & Ravi decided to pursue Engineering courses, Krishna decided to do a course in Catering. Since he did not get admission into the local institute, he moved to an Institute in Delhi where he got admission to pursue his dream course, staying in the hostel. 


Soon Ram and Ravi got their degrees.  While Ram decided to proceed to USA for his Masters in Industrial Engineering, Ravi got his admission into a leading Management Institute in India for an MBA.  Both came out with flying colours and got good jobs.  Ram continued to work in USA, while Ravi got a good job in Mumbai where his family lived.

Ram fell in love with an American girl in USA and decided to marry her. Ravi decided to marry a girl from their community whom his parents had chosen for him.  Ravi’s wedding was a grand affair, held in a star hotel attended by all relatives and friends.

Krishna, who had just finished his course in catering and was waiting for a job also attended the wedding.  As a handsome young man he was the cynosure of all the eyes in the wedding. 

Elders who saw him would tell him, “Now that Ravi is getting married, your line is clear… it is your time to get married.

“Let me settle down in life uncle, then we will see” he would reply.

Many pretty girls in the gathering were trying to draw Krishna’s attention to impress him. 

Soon Krishna left for Dubai, where he got a good job in a leading hotel.  Sunil and Roopa were secretly admiring their handsome son and hoping that one day he will also be married to a pretty young girl and settle down in life.

After marriage, Ravi had taken up a separate flat and had set up a house of his own; he was soon blessed with a baby girl. Sunil retired from his job and stayed with Roopa in their flat. Though they were free birds they felt that until they got Krishna married their responsibilities as parents were not over.

“Krishna, it is time you get married.  If you have not found any one of your choice, can we look around for a girl for you” Sunil would ask Krishna whenever he called.

“Last week Shantha aunty was here.  She was talking about her pretty niece, who has done a Master`s degree in Computer Science and is ready for marriage” Roopa would add.

“What is the hurry Amma?  You already have two daughter-in-laws and grandchildren to play with. Why don’t you leave me alone?  Let me enjoy life” Krishna would retort.


While Sunil and Roopa continued to worry about Krishna and his marriage, he was refusing to fall into any kind of trap.  A year later, during one of his regular telephonic calls Krishna informed his parents that he had found his partner  and invited them  to visit  Dubai on a holiday.  Excited at the prospect of Krishna`s imminent marriage Sunil and Roopa decided to make the trip the following month.

Krishna picked them up on their arrival at Dubai airport and took them home.  It was a two bedroom flat which Krishna was sharing with his friend Rajesh.  A decent accommodation which was maintained well by the two bachelors – thought Sunil.  They even complemented the friends for this.

Sunil and Roopa visited all the usual tourist sites of Dubai including an evening at a Desert Safari where they saw a belly dance being performed by a not so young lady!

It was the last day of their stay in Dubai.  After dinner when they were relaxing and chatting at the drawing room, Roopa brought up the subject of marriage to Krishna.

After dilly, dallying for some time, Krishna broke the news to them

“Amma, Appa; Rajesh my dear friend is in love with me.  I also love him.  We live together in this  house not just as friends, but as husband and wife”

The news hit Sunil and Roopa like a ton of bricks.  They did not know how to react to this news.  As if on cue, Rajesh came out of his room and joined Krishna to touch the feet of Sunil and Roopa, seeking their blessings!

Since they had to leave for Mumbai in a couple of hours they had no time to talk to Krishna about his decision.


On their way back to Mumbai in the flight Sunil and Roopa hardly talked to each other.  They were so shocked at the news conveyed to them by Krishna that their middle class mind could not comprehend the situation.  Roopa’s mind traveled back to the time when she  revelled in dressing up Krishna as a girl and admiring him.  She never imagined that one day her handsome son would be taken in as a wife by a young man. 

On reaching their house in Mumbai, they broke the news to a very close friend Kumar..  Kumar was not shocked; on the other hand his response was cool.

“Sunil & Roopa, such things are common in our society today.  Now-a-days youngsters are taking the courage to openly talk about their same sex relationships so that their parents do not unwittingly thrust innocent spouses on them.  For your information, my daughter Seema who has been living in USA and refusing to marry is having a girl friend as a live-in-partner. Though my wife and I were initially shocked beyond words we have decided to take it in our stride. I had no courage to tell you this earlier. Now that you are also in a similar situation I thought I will share my story with you.  I suggest that you also learn to live with the knowledge and only pray for Krishna’s well being, wherever he is.”

Sunil and Roopa were left dumbfounded.

( A Tamil translation of this story appeared in the May,2014 issue of Kalaimagal, a 85 years old Tamil literary monthly)

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