The bell jingles as I open the door to the wooden shack. Accompanying the sound of the bell is your exuberant laughter booming across the space, enveloping everyone in your mirth. This was the first thing that had made me aware of your presence months ago. The melodic, uninhibited sound was like music to my confused soul. Thereafter, it just happened.
Bit by bit, you squeezed your way in my heart. I saw you in the café a few times and realized that you were a regular. I noticed the way you greeted every member of the staff, asking them about their lives and their families, and sharing inside jokes with them. You had a habit of flailing your hands when describing something and invariably knocking over half the things in your vicinity. The way your eyes went wide and you uttered a long ‘Nooo’ when someone told you stuff you didn’t know, never failed to make me smile. You were crowned the Klutzy Queen for tripping over non-existent furniture, and then spending five minutes laughing at yourself. I picked up your habit of wrinkling your nose at things you found distasteful. I would stare at you every time you absently tapped the bridge of your nose when deep in thought. Every time you smiled with the playful glint in your eyes when you passed by my table, I thought of approaching you. And two months back, I almost did.
I blink and crash back to the present when the door opens followed by the chiming jingles. Looking at you again, I think back to the day when I told my family about my feelings about you. The reaction was far worse than I had expected. The family, who usually flaunted their modern thoughts and boasted about the freedom their children had, had shrieked, cursed, bawled and yelled at the news. They begged me to see a psychiatrist, blackmailed me by saying they would disown me, threatened to kill themselves, invited close relatives to drill some sense in my ‘screwed up’ brain. My resistance eventually wore out when my father got admitted in the ICU for severe stress.
With moist eyes and a last glance at you, I turn to meet the guy who would be my future husband and the ticket to preserving my family’s reputation. My fate was sealed when I was born in a country that treats homosexuals as vile abominations.