It took me years, if not decades to fully come to terms with my own identity. The majority of that time including my birth, I spent in various pockets of what the world calls “Middle East”. Throughout the entirety of my early years and adolescence, I was aware of an anomaly that resided within, something that set me apart from what I was entailed to portray.
Born smack dab in the middle of an active war-zone, I was a sight and a half to the tired and sore eyes of a well-educated, hard-working, risk-taking and at times over-achieving middle class Indian family amidst the chaos of an on-going war. A son, a boy, the future torch-bearer of the surname, was the endless enigmatic mist showering my parent’s emotions and expectations. There I was, a tiny being enthrusted onto the pre-decided path of what society categorises(yes, I used the present tense, because, well it continues) as masculinity, something that would sooner than later become an ever-so-slowly tightening prickly noose. The beginning of my battle stared at me eerily unbeknownst to me.
The slow process of age and eventual availability of the Internet had slowly given me the avenues to venture out in the quest to discover myself, with a caveat though, whenever I got even remotely close to some sort of answers, PROXY BLOCKED would appear on the monitor. Most of the “Middle East” was and maybe even is to a certain extent today, excruciatingly strict on what the Internet was allowed to show to it’s citizens and residents. So, here I was, by now a teenage “Boy”, depressed, confused and extremely emotionally fatigued growing up amongst a small social circle gifted to me by my parents. The gender roles amidst those in my age group were clearly defined, the “Girls” did this and the “Boys” did that. Even when occasionally I would venture amongst the adults, the roles there too were vibrantly visible, the “Women” huddled with gin & tonics and wines(secretly stealing glances with their male counterparts for a nod of approval before every refill) or just plain water, heavily involved in murmurs with the occasional bursts of laughter, The “Men” dwelled deep in discussions of politics and army matters bathed in the fumes of their “strong” whiskies and cigarettes & cigars, ever so often belching out orders of some sort of refreshments in the general direction of the “Women”, who ever so politely would let out a snarky comment but eventually oblige.
This was it, this is what it was, weekdays, weekends and everything in between and beyond.
And not forgetting, as came the teenage years, along came the hormones and their own set off vendettas. The confusion now soaring beyond new peaks.
To be continued…