How would you define ‘happily ever after’?
The ‘happily ever after’ concept is flawed. Relationships, gay or straight, are complex, and both partners have to work to keep the fire alive. The biggest realization for Sid and me was that we have to define it for ourselves. There are hardly any role models for gay couples. The closest inspiration we have is our parents and family, and they are in heterosexual relationships. But when a man and a man come together, the same rules and instincts don’t apply. We have no contract for marriage, and most of us will not have children, so it is important to define why we want to wake up with each other. We are individuals with unique identities. We are not here to merge into a singular identity. We wish to support each other to grow, and find what it is that we want. I think the keyword is friendship. It is more powerful than romance or marriage.
Do you make time for celebrations with extended family?
Yes. Our parents are part of our relationship. We celebrate birthdays together. We travel together. We bought our first home with their blessings. Sid’s parents took us shopping when we set up our first rented home, and explained things like how a five-kg packet of rice is more valuable than five times the 1-kg one. Sid’s mother is spiritual, like I am, and we have conversations about life and karma. My father is a karaoke enthusiast, and encourages Sid to sing old Hindi songs. But it’s not easy. The parents grew up with the belief that homosexuality is a sickness, I think they hope that we will turn straight one day. There are times when we fought and things looked bleak. This kind of support takes time.
Is there a message that you would like to share?
These rose-tinted notions of eternal romance work in Bollywood movies. In life, we need to integrate with society. We need to be there for parents when they are old, and still fulfill our needs of companionship and love. Most parents feel hurt when they know their child is gay, but that doesn’t mean we hide it and stifle our own breathing. We must understand that this is the problem with older generations. When they see that that their child has, or could have, a supportive partner, they will eventually accept. One piece of advice to gay couples is to be honest. Bare your soul, weaknesses and flaws. If you find someone attractive, tell your partner. If something happened with someone else, share it. Forge a deep friendship.
Can you share any milestone that strengthened your bond?
It was raising a dog together. Doobie was like a child. We got him in 2007. He was well mannered, and slept in our bed. As bachelors, societies denied us homes, or threw us out unceremoniously, and we had to move from house to house. Doobie adjusted. He passed away last April. Our neighbors came for the condolence. Irony is that when we own our home, Doobie is not with us. But we have two kittens.
What are each one’s likes and dislikes?
We are foodies, travel enthusiasts, and movie and music buffs. So, there’s an aroma of good food in the kitchen, even as Mallikarjun Mansur’s raag Nand plays in the background. When you run a home, share finances, and raise pets, there are bound to be disagreements. It’s a give-and-take. Also, every few years, we as the individuals, want new things. We are learning to let the other pursue them. The mantra is to let the other fly, and yet be satisfied with one’s individual pursuits. We are with each other because we want to share what we have as two individuals.