Avasa (Part I)

(Part 1 from 8)

I'm back with my next story. Sorry it took so long...for a while I had writer's block. :-) The story is a work of fiction but it is based on some very real characters that I know. I had to divide it into two parts because it's quite long. And while I put quite a bit of sex in it, there is a plot, and lots of drama.

What you need to understand while reading this story, however, is the milieu it's set in. The main characters are all liberal young people in India. Being liberal is not easy in a traditional society like India's. Being gay is even harder. Being a butch-femme couple in a society where gender stereotypes are practically unbreakable needs a lot of guts.

I had to use some Hindi to lend the story an air of authenticity, so I've provided a glossary and pronunciations at the end of both parts of the story.

For those of you who don't know who Deepa Mehta is, she's the Canadian-Indian director of the awesome movie about two women having an affair in India, "Fire", which I highly recommend.

Needless to say, please report all grammatical errors to brand_new_writer@yahoo.com.

Without further ado, please read on!

- brand new writer

For friend and fellow rock chick, N.


"Nadya, look," my sister Saima says seriously. "I really do think this is a phase. You've just convinced yourself that you're gay. It's all power of suggestion."

I sigh. She is not happy with my coming out. Not because she is prejudiced. She, like me, is a privileged member of the educated Indian elite, and probably a future member of the ultra-liberal intelligentsia that speaks in English and lives in big urban cities like ours, Mumbai. But being gay in India is fraught with danger. I am from a Muslim family, which, although semi-religious at best, is still concerned about tradition and 'what people think'. The rule we've been brought up with is: do what you want, just make sure no-one finds out.

It's a wonder I've developed a sense of ethics, given the hypocrisy I've grown up with.

"Saima, I know what I feel," I say to her, looking away. I just can't stand to see her look so worried about me. She is three years younger. We are both in college, she a freshman, and I, a senior. I never wanted to burden her with my baggage. But I've been out to myself for a month now. I had to tell someone. "And you know what I'm talking about. I've been attracted to girls since I hit puberty. You remember right? When I was thirteen, I told you about the effect my best friend had on me when she danced with me?"

"Yeah, yeah," says Saima, half-angrily. "Which is why it seems to me that there were far more environmental reasons for you turning out gay."

"Etiology is a useless debate," I contend. "It doesn't matter what factors shaped my orientation. Once it's shaped, it's shaped. Environment? Genes? Hormones? Whatever the fuck. It's done. I can't change it."

"Ugh, you read too much psych literature." Saima sighs. She can see that I am sure about what I am saying. And it is alarming her.

"Listen," I touch her arm. "This is not your problem. I just thought I'd tell you. Don't worry about it. I'm going to deal with it somehow."

"Like hell it's not my problem!" she suddenly yells at me. "You know our parents would probably disown you if they heard us having this conversation!" I'm twenty-two years old. In a year or so, my parents are going to start pressuring me to get married. That's just the way it's done here.

"Relax! They'll never know. I'm not an idiot. I'm not going to go around parading my sexuality." I ruffle her hair.

"Look, Nadya," Saima manages to calm down. "I still think that, if at all possible, you should try to live a heterosexual life." She pauses, then continues, and I can detect a quiver in her voice, like she's about to cry. "It's just...I'm just worried about you. I want you to be happy. You know that on a personal level I don't give a fuck whether you're gay or straight or whatever. It's this society we live in. It's closed as hell, and it will eat you alive. You know that as well as I do."

"I know that," I nod grimly. "But I can't deny myself the right to live."

"I don't want that," she agrees. She gets up to leave. As an afterthought, she gives me a long hug. "You know, whatever you decide, I'm with you."

I smile up at her. "I know that. Thanks."


She's riding a motorbike. Women ride scooters in India, sure. But it's extremely rare to see a chick on a motorbike. And a chick doing wheelies is unheard of. But there she is. Showing off in the parking lot of my college. She isn't even wearing a helmet. I can see her from the court, where I have been playing basketball, and I am completely smitten.

"Who's that?" says Mohan, my best friend since third grade, who is playing with me. If I wasn't lesbian, I might be going out with him. He knows, of course. When I told him, he started laughing about how we had even more in common now. I really do adore him.

"Beats the hell out of me," I stare at her. Even though I can't see her features, she looks sexy as hell. Her dark hair is cropped extremely short, in a boy cut. It is streaked blue at the ends. She's wearing a tight tank top over a pair of baggy men's cargo pants. And a bandanna tied around her arm.

"Looks like your type," says Mohan, grinning.

She's done showing off, it seems. She parks her bike. She starts walking a self-assured, confident walk. My heart stops. Is she coming toward us? She looks a bit older than me. I think she knows I am gawking, because she raises an eyebrow at me.

"Hi, I'm Avasa," she begins. Her voice is breathy, and makes me melt. "I'm looking for my brother, Arjun. He's an assistant professor here."

Her sexy androgyny is making me wild with desire. She has a pierced eyebrow. She looks like she might be from Goa, another part of India. Goans have Portuguese looks, because the area used to be a Portuguese colony. I am only 5'4" next to her tall 5'8" frame. Her blue-streaked hair is extremely trendy, lending her the look of a femme pirate boy. I have straight black hair that suddenly seems too plain. She is fair-skinned. I have olive-colored skin, which my mother keeps insisting is too dark.

I am suddenly very self-conscious standing in front of her.

Mohan pipes up, "Arjun Kumar, right?" Arjun Kumar, I know who he is. He teaches psych. Actually, I'm acing his course. I'm just about to open my mouth and say something, when Mohan starts talking again. "Well, he's probably in his office," he says. "Room 214. Would you like me to take you there?"

"Yeah, that'd be great," she says. He leads the way, and she follows him. He turns back for a split second and winks at me.

Traitor. I give him my best dirty look. I pick up my bag pack and head off to the cafeteria to have lunch.

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