Vadehra Art Gallery
Towards an Indian gay image, Lake Pichola, Udaipur, 1983, 2021. A photograph by Sunil Gupta Photo: Vadehra Art Gallery

Two Indonesian men sentenced to 85 lashes of cane for gay sex~

You like growing capsicums, those human fists

that flaunt their twisted bodies, greedily consume

the sunlight splatter on the terrace. Like Weston’s

Pepper No. 30, we keep them on the kitchen top,

imagine our bulging bodies siphoning sadness

from each other’s mouths. Before their skins wrinkle,

you ease them to darkness with your knife—

remove the seed shoal, slash their ribs, stuff them with pork,

allow their skins to sag in a preheated oven.

After which they go in our mouth

‘s crematorium—heart crunched between incisors,

tendons trampled by coated tongues.

We badge our hearts like Karna’s kavach thinking

they would save us from the skewers of the world.

But death finds you sleeping, your body angled like a kayak,

and kisses your knuckles. Just like that the parcel

of your breaths is delivered to a wrong address.

Your wobbly voice repeating cut, chop, jump, slash

lashes in my ears on hot, moonless nights.

In the mornings, I press polka-dotted beetles

between my fingers. Tear all the glossy sheets

that you moulded into lotus. Rip apart chests

of capsicums in your garden, crush the seeds clasping

the stalk, so they don’t dare to grow again.

Darling, we can only think of erasing the world

smeared forcibly on our specs. Only daydream

of a world where we are more than the paws

of a meek dog. Where we aren’t julienned slices

of red & yellow peppers, sprinkled generously

to make the dull mound of bhaat look exotic.

Kinshuk Gupta is a Delhi-based freelance journalist who writes on culture, gender and education

(This appeared in the print as 'Outliers')