Wherever I went, I always felt like I was putting on a mask. I hid away and faked a huge part of me from everyone around me, and I wanted that to stop. I was inside a cocoon, but instead of growing within it, I felt like my wings were degrading the more I stayed in. I wanted to break out. I wanted to flash the beauty of my pink, red and orange wings to the world.

Since I was a little girl, I was exposed to straight couples, and the concept of homosexuality was foreign to me. When I started finding my interest in girls, I thought I was broken, which haunted me. I prayed to God to forgive me for every wrong that I committed and begged him to fix me; I dug my nails in my arms as a punishment every time I looked at a girl and found her pretty and forced myself to try to like boys.

I was drowning in despair and reaching out to the surface, but I had nothing to hold onto. I stressed myself to the extent that I once ended up getting a panic attack.  I remember gasping for air and my mind being all around the place. I don’t try to recollect anymore because the thought of that incident still gives me shivers. The panic attack lasted for ten minutes—but to me then, it felt like an eternity. I thought I would never get out of that misery; I thought I was being punished for my sins.  As a twenty-year-old now, looking back to my early teen years makes me immensely sad. 

If only someone told that young little girl she wasn’t broken, if only someone told her what she felt was natural, that she shouldn’t be disgusted by herself, she wouldn’t have spent years in despair. It took me a year to get used to the idea that my feelings were valid. 

It is funny how the first search I made through my first phone was about how to cure myself, but instead, I found that I never had a disease in the first place. I read the experiences of others like me, and it gave me a sense of belonging, the wooden log to grab onto to stop myself from drowning. And after years of hiding in my cocoon in fear of judgement, I was finally ready to break out of it.

So today, I decided to approach my family after dinner. It wasn’t easy, and every second I contemplated on going back to my room and trying another time. But I knew there wouldn’t be ‘another’ time if I kept stalling it. I had to speak up. I had to break out. When I stood in front of them and spoke out the words “I like girls”, my family started laughing. Once again, the thought that I should brush it off as a joke and go back came to my mind, but something in me made me stay. 

The laughs died. As expected, no one took it easy. My grandmother went into a frenzy, my dad started yelling about how modernisation had made the youth shameless, but my mom said nothing. I looked at her and tried to read her eyes, but I saw nothing. That broke me. I felt hopeless. The wooden log I was trying to hold onto was slipping from my arms, and that’s when my mom said, “No matter who you like, you’re still my daughter, and I love you no less.”

I returned to my room with a smile on my face. As I am writing this, with every word I write, I feel more motivated. I realise how important it is for me to be unrelenting to make my dad and grandma accept me for the way I am. My mom gave me the strength I needed, the acceptance I was seeking. I was ready to fight for my identity; I was prepared to let the world see the colours of my wings.

With hope at last,
Signing off for tonight.

Written by: Ketki Kabir