Of family, love regardless gender, and becoming my own.

 

Dear Universe,

 

I have to tell you a story so that you know why I have approached you. Things have only made sense to me this way all along. Conversations with you and myself through words.

Sometime in 2006, after knowing that I felt quite differently for a friend(which you would already know but please bare with me), I realised that I would have loved her even if she were a guy. That I would love a person for who they are, in whatever form that they come in. She saw me as a friend though but that’s okay because we are still friends. It was an important moment because that’s when I acknowledged what I didn’t want to for awhile and opened my arms to who I really was.

In 2007, I fell in love with a girl. She was a Scorpio. She was magnetic, passionate and a mystery. We got together and it was an adventure – I was together with a girl. It shouldn’t be any different from any other relationship and really it wasn’t but I also knew that in society’s eyes I was in a slightly odd(oh, the trap)relationship. That always made me feel like I was hiding something. I felt dirty.

I decided to tell my parents. And it’s wasn’t pretty.

The Christmas of 2007.

I walked in after a night of staying out at my then girlfriend’s place. I refused to give in to my parents’ calls and texts after texts asking me to come back home. I had enough of their watch especially after I told my mum.

But that evening was the first time my dad brought it up.

He asked my sisters to go to the room. He sat opposite me and started spinning the word shame with many lines and questions. What type of parents brought up a girl like that -referring to my ex – and wanted to call them up to question. As though she was the one who converted me into liking her. Or that it was her parents who brought her up to be like that.

“You say whatever you want to me. She’s not your daughter so just talk to me,” I fired back.

“Eh you got no shame ah? Doing this and hanging around with a girl. You have two younger sisters you know. And don’t forget ah. Just because you mix with Chinese doesn’t mean you are. Look at your colour. It’s brown.”

“You’re such a shame.”

His back was facing me but he turned around.

“Have I not brought you up well?”

He was crying.

It’s one thing to have your dad shout at you but another to see him cry.

Because of you.

He picked up momentum and became angry again. My dad gave me an ultimatum to leave the house or stay and be the daughter that he needs to me so that I can have an education. I think I would have easily walked away if not for this strange wise voice in my head. The all knowing one that I have always trusted in times of distress and despair. My intuition.

Stay and get that education. That will be your ticket out of this house one day.

 

That one day is now here, Universe. A similar situation. I say similar because that relationship didn’t work out. It’s been years since then. I am happy now with my partner in love, Eleanor, for the past three years. She’s kind, loving and supportive. She’s my bestfriend, my mother, my father, my family. She’s a Leo(of course I have to mention that). She celebrates me.

El and I are mostly in a long distance relationship. She’s based in China and I’m here in Singapore. We are away from each other for about two to three months so time with each other when she’s back is precious. I have remained quiet about my life since 2007. But I think my parents notice the difference whenever she’s back in Singapore. I’m out more and I stay at a friend’s place more – which is also not the case anymore since El’s mum has become suspicious about us. It’s a lie because we actually go on staycations to have our time together.

Few Saturdays ago, I was heading for another one of our staycations when my dad stopped me at the door.

“You’re staying out tonight?”

“Yes, got work.”

We always have to cook up stories on both ends.

“Then in that case why cannot stay in your amama’s place after that?”

I work at Aljunied and my grandmother lives in Bedok. But that wasn’t the reason, clealy.

“I already told my friend I’d stay at her place. I’m not sure if I’ll be too late. I don’t want to disturb ammama.”

Another lie because we have already booked the hotel.

“Amma(mum) can pass you the key. You can go after and open the door.”

“Uncle and kids will be there. It’s okay I’ve already made up my mind so yes. I need to go now.”

“You are not listening ah. You better go and stay in your granny’s.”

“I already decided and I’m late, I really need to go.”

I was opening the front door when my mum decides to come in and play too.

“You know if you’re going to treat this house like a hotel, maybe you should just find some place and move.”

“Or stay at your girlfriend Eleanor’s place.”

“She’s just my friend, Amma.”

Reflex, immediate reflex. On hindsight, if not for fear, I would have told them. But that’s okay.

“Don’t think we don’t know ahh. If you’re going to keep doing this, you should just move out.”

“Yes I’ve already been looking. But I was thinking of going after the house renovations so that I can help out and go.”

“Why must go?” my dad questions.

One was asking me to leave but the other was questioning the need to.

“Well, work is far.”

“You think everybody move from their house just because work is far? You are just arrogant because you’re working. You just want to do what you want to do. You’re selfish and don’t know how to think about family.”

“I’m telling you now. If you bring shame to the family. I will kill you.”

There were few seconds of nothing in my head, just silence but something inside me closed up.

“You don’t care about my happiness.”

“I don’t care about your shameful happiness.”

All this time I was at the entrance of the house about to leave. My hand on the knob, half of my body inside the house and the other out.

“See how she’s standing like that. Want the whole world to listen to what we have to say.”

I shut the door and left.

 

It’s time. Your ticket can be used now. You can leave.

The same calm wise voice after six years, when I left the house that afternoon. It’s full circle now. El is still away quite constantly but in the meantime I’ll become my own. This is just the start isn’t it, Universe?

Well this is how I picture it. For me, for us, for awhile now and a little while more:

I want to build a small home for myself even if it starts with a room. I want to be able to go back to that room everyday after work without feeling guilty. I want to spend time with El when she’s here without the need for staycations(but of course when we want to, we would). I want to be quiet when I need to be and talking to my housemates when I can be. I want to save for the day that I’ll marry the person I love and the house that we will live in. I want to experience being sufficient on my own. I want to wake up to the space between four walls that is filled with warmth when I’m alone or with company. I want to wake up in her arms without worrying about when I have to leave. Or feeling like I am hiding something. I know that it starts from within. But in this tangible world it only makes sense to me that a material home is a place where there is love too. I love my family but I need to love myself too. I just want to be happy.

And if that’s ever asking for too much,

I just want to be who I am.

 

Seeking your blessings always,

Lavanya