It was 14th of February 2012. Remembering my ex-flame Deepika I was listening to Lady Antebellum, to cover my anguish. My friend Aarohan came near me and desired to listen too. I put the headphones and explained him the lyrics. I could feel his feelings bleeding in disguise of wetness near his lashes being kissed by the February Breeze.
His boyfriend had dumped him just the day before and he had no one but me, his friend to spend the glum evening with. He told me that there’s a gay party at Kharghuli, at a friend’s place, but hesitated to go alone. Ritesh his boyfriend always accompanied him but today he had to bear the burden of the ugly truth. He wanted to overcome his sadness, at least for the evening.
So I as an experimentalist decided to accompany. We took the bus from Dispur and sat by the window. There were flocks of boys and girls, holding hands, red roses and perhaps looking at the whole world through pink glasses.
We got down near Rabindra Bhawan and decided to walk the infamous Dighali Pukhuri Lane. There were 3 young guys, dressed in pink and yellow waiting patiently. As Aarohan enlightened me, this was Guwahati’s one of the most famous Gay Cruising point, where youngsters like forlorn tribes wait for anonymous sugar daddies to open the doors of their cars. Most cars stop by this lane at around 9pm to 10pm to pick up these young fellows and spend nights of ecstasy. This made me wonder how lovelorn gay men are. But then Aarohan made me realize that they grow up learning to repress their real being. Nowhere else in nature is such a phenomenon seen, where the reverse: ‘exuberant expression’, is mostly true! On top of that, they learn to pretend to be someone else to derive love and respect from people close to them and from society at large. Finally, they are never actually loved for who they really are and their genuine cores remain un-encouraged. All this adds up to a big deficit of love and then sex seems to be the only venting option to unleash their frustration as well as gain love even if it’s for a single night.
We took a Rickshaw from Latashil Bus stand and it took almost twenty minutes to reach the venue. The house was a three storied apartment that belonged to a businessman named Saugata Mazumdar. While climbing the stairs I asked Aarohan if these parties were regular. He then told me that Mr. Mazumdar threw house parties almost every Tuesday. He told me about other gay parties too that happen in Guwahati; in Bamunimaidum and Zoo Road Tiniali, where owners throw pot luck get-to-gathers to meet and exchange ideas, feelings and of course Love. On being asked how these people get to know each other, I mean the media! He told me of a particular website, PlanetRomeo, where gay men in Guwahati connect and meet. However the sole purpose of such meetings ends up being in bed.
I grew hysterical if such a thing happens with me in this party tonight! But Aarohan assured me that Saugata doesn’t approve of such physical explicitly in his parties at least.
Finally, we entered the house, music booming in full volume and a fat man perhaps in his 50s came running to hug Aarohan and exchange flying kisses. Aarohan introduced him as Mr. Mazumdar. As I went inside his hall, I found almost twenty men sitting and sipping drinks, smoking and some of them making small groups and whispering to each other. There were people from all age groups, an eighteen year old guy whom Saugata introduced to me as Farooq, a man with a hippy hair cut Ramesh, two middle aged men and three boys with pink-plastered lips. At the corner of the room was sitting a man of almost 60 years whom Saugata introduced to me as his partner of 16 years.
I wondered how gay relationships could also survive like ours. This was an example right in front of my eyes. Then why do most gay relationships fail to survive? Aarohan on our way back explained me that the best hope of gay men lie in the love of a partner. However, they might very well miss the fact that their partner might be dealing with those very same demons—of a homophobic, prejudiced environment. So, looking for rescue, they are actually burdening an already burdened person with another humongous load. And looking into their own souls, they would know just how humongous a baggage it is.
Aarohan was feeling a little lighter now as he told and insisted that we go to the ILLUSSION discotheque in Fancy Bazar near Kuber Hotel. I unhesitatingly nodded as the evening was still young. On the way he told me that ILLUSSION had become the gay melting pot of the town where people fearlessly danced to the tunes of love with a hidden desire to meet the perfect stranger with whom they could spend the night.
We paid 200 bucks for entry and as I opened the black door, a mad frenzy crowd of Queens and Cross-dressed people just passed before my eyes. One of them was confidently dancing with a straight looking man, who perhaps misunderstood him for a girl. Aarohan told me that this bunch worked for a certain news agency. I was amazed at the Crossdessser’s confidence as every man in the discotheque tried to grab his waist and make a move. Later we saw him leaving with a handsome man in his Ikon.
We decided to return. But then Aarohan made me stop at a park in fancy bazaar where the ships leave, near KAMAKAZI, another gay hub. As I stood at the gateway Aarohan went near the bushes to meet some feminine folks whom he said belonged to the lower strata and couldn’t attend parties, hence made merry in the park itself. I saw him much happier there than at Saugata’s. They laughed and giggled to the jokes of their own. I could feel their love. I sensed somewhat similar yet distinct eunuch society show such relationships based on love but different from the usual ones like lovers, spouses, friends, cousins, etc.
Aarohan asked me to leave, as he wanted to spend some more time with them. On asking who actually they were. He told me this was the place for all male sex workers from Guwahati Railway station where mostly army men had quickies either in the bathroom or a broken compartment; to gather and wait for the evening to end. And he loved being with them.
I finally walked to the bus stop near JB’s wondering, maybe one day Gay men will find their special dynamics based on love (in a completely new sense) within the community itself.
I do not have the name for it but ‘camaraderie’ can be close.
I took the bus and lighted a cigarette concluding, perhaps “Love knows no norms”.