Every Thing We Are is a coming of age novel where Samyukta aka Sam learns that every thing we are is not always on display. This is my first attempt at writing a novel. I started this project as part of #NaNoWriMo2020 before I fell off the wagon. Hope you will read along as I get back to writing it. All episodes of this series are available on the ETWA page. Subscribe to my writing here.
I run. With purpose, as fast as I can. But I am not making progress. You’re following me. No, he is following me. They’ll say I hugged you first. They’ll say it’s my fault. They are right. It is my fault. You don’t go around hugging someone you barely know.
“Don’t run away from me. I’ve missed you. I love you. All I can think of is for us to be together. I want to hug you so tight, you can never leave.” Coming from this dual person, these romantic words are an assault to my ears.
I crouch behind a big banyan tree where I am sure they won’t look. In a heartbeat I hear them near me. I don’t look up but I know they are there. My ears are hot. A cold, tingling sensation runs down my arms. As I get up I stumble. I look down and see that I am wearing the loose robe-like uniform from the ashram. I gather my garment and run.
Suddenly the park is crowded. Many of my classmates are here. Lesbo Sam, Lesbo Sam, Lesbo Sam. They jeer as I run past. Ahead, my teachers are lounging on a park bench, popping peanuts. “Good Morning Ma’am” I approach them for safety, meaning to complain about my classmates. But someone behind me says, “My girl, you’ve completely lost the plot.” It’s principal ma’am, a terror on a regular day. “Your classmates are not wrong, are they?”, she leads with a question. And instead of answering her question obediently, I bolt.
I begin looking for Zassies. There’s no way that my entire class is here without them. I look under rocks, within hedges and even in storm water drains. I find them huddled on a flight of steps. As soon as they see me, they start apologising. “We tried everything. Sorry there is no way out of this. We can’t help you.”
Okay, I hear myself say. I am on my own. What do I do now?
Suddenly, I am climbing a tree. Higher and higher. They can’t catch me now, I am repeating to myself. The branches get thinner as I go higher. There’s a sinking feeling forming in the pit of my stomach, an ache in my arms, a tightness in my chest. But I climb.
They can’t catch me now, I am repeating to myself.
Finally, I am sitting on the last leaf of the tallest tree in the park. Below me, Cubbon Park is an insignificant speck of green in this carbon city. There is nowhere to go from here. I look around and as my vision clears, I see them—Madhu with Guruji’s face—walking up to me.
“Where’s your poster bed, Guruji? I hear myself say in an appeasing tone. “You have cured me, Guruji.” My confession sounds sickly sweet and naive. “Who said that? I try to scream but no words come out. That’s not me. I still like girls. Do you hear me? I shout in my head. But no one hears.
“True love is when one finds happiness in the happiness of their beloved, even if they are the very reason for one’s sorrow”, I hear myself say.
I wake up crying. I am covered in sweat. Achams is by my side in a minute with a glass of water. There is no way out. There is no way out. I hear myself chant as she shushes me. She strokes my arm and back with one hand as I hold on tightly to the other. I manage to go back to sleep only after she lies down beside me, her body enveloping mine.
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