Thirst is a Blessing for the Heedless

Imagine a hellish afternoon. You have been out and about. Not that you feel uncomfortable. But with one gulp of water you to realize you have been parched all along. Such, only bigger, came a realization for me at the age of twenty-five. My adolescence was mostly unremarkable: examinations, college, hostel life, acquiring new tastes and new responsibilities. But something was different. My friends would chitchat late into the night. I was with them, but not of them. The recurrent topic was girls. No one had experience, but girls stirred everyone's minds and excited their bodies. Well, I had experienced bodily excitement. I too woke up wet from dreams. I knew the anatomy of sex from book learning. But what my friends thought of girls, I didn't ever experience. They seemed theatrical expressions of lust. Some friends called me "monk" and some called me "liar", but neither was true. I had no vocation for chastity, and no hidden infatuations.

Set aside puerile talk, even the love poetry from the classics of Kalidasa seemed just so much ornamental hyperbole to me. I never had that private moment of, "Yes! This poet speaks my love, only better!" In short, the emotional universe of sexuality was a cipher to me. And so greatly deprived, I did not even know my lack. Or rather, I did not consciously know. My unconscious stormed furiously, and tired itself to sleep. In my twenty-fifth year, I was once in the university library. From idle curiosity, I picked up a book called "Homosexuality". It was an academic tome, objective and dry. But it differed from books I had read thus far - it wasn't about the body, it analyzed the emotions. A shiver went through me as I flipped through the pages. This book was the story of my life. The book was written for American readers. Their culture, religion, experiences, nothing really pertained to me. And yet it connected with my gut. I woke up instantly, and I said - I am this! These weren't premises joined in conscious syllogism - it was knowledge born whole after long gestation in the unconscious. It breached consciousness at this moment, that was all. The book was only incidental. If not that, it would have been another thing that woke me up.

If I felt curious it was not "why", but rather "why so long delayed?" Who excited by body, even in school? I remembered clearly now - it was boys. Whose dreams wet my nights? I remembered well now - it was boys. These memories were buried, not burned. Though I just saw the seeding, the ground had the seed all along.

Right then, the locks fell open on a chamber in my heart. From its windows, I got a new point of view to the outside. For the first time, I recognized from within that the lust of my teenaged friends was natural. There was a parallel longing in that chamber of mine. In that chamber now opened, the poetry of Kalidasa rang true, with not a clink of hyperbole. I found a place in my heart for love, desire and lust. I realized how much I yearned for these. It is true that recognizing thirst does not satisfy it, drinking water does. But now I knew my need, previously hidden. With knowing would come trying, and with trying, success. That was the hope that I got in that moment. And nothing is as precious as that hope.

Dhananjay Vaidya

Dhananjay Vaidya's process of coming out, first to himself, then at work, then to family, took over five years. Dropping each shackle let him live all other facets of life more freely. He can have an uncomplicated home life with his partner Brian, and devote wholehearted attention to his profession: he is a biomedical researcher who works in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.