Yet Another Four Letter Word

Dinner is done at my sister in law’s place and we are waiting for ice cream, when the cutest-niece-in-the-world (all of nine then) announces,

I know The four-letter word.”

Her mom is taking the ice cream out from the freezer, she asks, “Yeah? Which one?

The role-model-for-my-kids-nephew (then eleven) looks uncomfortable, “She read it in the school bus, I didn’t tell her!”

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: I know but I will not tell you, you have to guess!

“Okay what’s the first letter?” her mom asked.

She won’t tell.

Role model squirmed. He is older and fears he will be blamed for her increasing vocabulary.

My sister in law: Is the last letter ‘K’?

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: NOoooo (Delightedly dimpling because nobody can win her challenge.)

My sister in law: And the first letter is not F?

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: No!! (laughing )

My sis in law: Okay we give up you tell us …?

But she had a lot more fun before she told us which FOUR letter word she had learnt!

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: The word is ‘homo’!!! It’s the worst four letter word, the worst of all, the most worst …

My sister in law: Is it a bad word? Who told you?

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: I know.

My sister in law: What does it mean?

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: Something very bad!

My sister in law: Homo is not a bad word, it is short for Homosexuals. If a boy is Homo it means he can fall in love with another boy, or a girl with another girl. We can also call them GAY.

The cutest-niece-in-the-world: How can boys love boys?

My sister in law: They can. Just like boys love girls.

That was the first time I heard the word HOMOSEXUALITY being explained.

But I forgot about it.

Such things‘ only happened in ‘the West’. Just like divorces and child abuse.

I never noticed that a friend was struggling with the knowledge and guilt of finding himself attracted to other men. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t ‘normal‘.
And he could discuss this with no one. But he tried.

We were all busy with our own lives. And I remembered all these instances much later. Like the time he was helping me shop in Delhi, I had to collect saris given for fall and pekoe … and we notice two boys rolling in the grass in a Park.

Friend: They must be gay!

IHM: What nonsense! We don’t have gays in India!

Friend: Gays can be everywhere. It’s the way some people are born … (a short lecture).

IHM: – (Not bothered) Yeah maybe …. but can’t imagine lol … anyway..

Friend: If you knew someone is gay will you dislike them?

IHM: – (Now thinking…) How would it be any of my business? No, I might defend them in fact. It’s their life! They are hurting nobody.

Friend: Being gay is considered a crime in India.

IHM: I don’t believe in victimless crimes. (But it never occur to me that this friend was talking about himself!)

Many years later he left India and is now happily settled with a wonderful partner. Most homosexuals have the toughest time convincing their family and friends that they are normal, that they are not perverts, that they are not criminals either.

‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’ shows just how traumatic it can be. And how our prejudices force gay men to marry women and then there are two unhappy people, and a society satisfied that everyone is happily ‘married’ and settled.
I am sure it must be much worse for lesbians.

Yesterday when I agreed in a comment that Muthalik is gay … a commenter said I was prejudiced … this post is to say, I am not prejudiced.

Most Indians even today, are as ignorant as I was, and as this class-five-dropout Muthalik probably is. He is against girls and boys being seen together, but he is not as we joked, supporting the gays and lesbians who may wish to celebrate yet another four latter word, LOVE – on Valentine’s Day.

I guess, as far as he is concerned they do not even exist.

But I am sure all the rest of us can see that our fellow citizens’ sexual orientation is no business of ours.

Let’s support the Consortium of Pubgoing Loose and Forward Women‘s Pink Chaddi Campaign for all equal citizens of India.

Edited to add: Today’s news, Chennai gets first Lesbian helpline.
And another brilliant post by Amit of Mashed Musings.


46 thoughts on “Yet Another Four Letter Word

  1. Cute lil girl! And smart! I wonder what her brother had told her what ‘homo’ means.
    As for te Pink Chaddi campaign, Mom read it in the newspaper today and snorted on her tea.
    Mom (coughing): Finally, some happy news after so many days of miserable stuff in the papers – recession, violence, etc.
    Dad (thumping her on the back): I know, but it won’t make a difference to Muthalik. He won’t understand.
    Mom (still coughing): Yeah, but at least the women are not sitting quietly.
    Dad (stops thumping): Have you planned to send a chaddi too?
    Mom laughs harder, this time with tears flowing down her cheeks. I join her as I come out of the bathroom to get ready for work. Dad gets embarrassed, thinking we’re making fun of him, and goes to shave.


  2. I was just going through that campaign and was planning to tell you about in a comment. But hey you already knew about it. I just wrote on similar lines and a small snippet of how hope still exists..

    I agree with Surbhi’s Mom when she says that this might not make a big difference to the mentality of those people but atleast they wont have the guts to do anything to women on the road.


  3. Hats off to your sister-in-law for explaining things to your niece….most parents are decidedly uncomfortable talking to their children about heterosexuals, much less gays.

    I don’t think any of these clowns respects personal choices – today, they may attack a girl and a boy for having coffee somewhere, tomorrow, they’ll attack two men for having ‘chai’ at a stall, presumably for being gay!

    Basically, whether you’re with a woman or a man or a dog, or even by yourself, if the politicians have to attack you, they will.

    You can run, but you can’t hide!

    Quirky Indian


  4. i have got friends who are gay.. and u know wat they are “normal”.. the sexual preference is their choice and it definitely doesn’t require any one else to comment on it.. the law banning homosexuality in india is completely ridiculous.. the guys talking abt Indian culture shudnt forget Lord Krishna was a gay too in short period of time… So was Arjuna during his year of disguise…

    and regd Muthalik, a incident that happ to me last week sums it all.. a colleague was spreading vile rumors abt me coz i am going out with a guy now.. wen a friend asked abt this to me i quipped “those who don’t get anything get happy by gossiping or acting as if they are gods..”
    they surely aren’t getting any fun in life and they are speaking that i am way-forward and modern

    a guy who has 43 crime cases against him and is a 5th grade drop out takes law in his hand and we stand mute!!!! way to go Pinkchaddi!! u are very much appreciated for this…


  5. @ Athira…

    the collected Chaddis ll be on display on FEb 13th, dear… they are conducting a press meet before sending it off to Muthalikji…


  6. i have believed for a long time that sexual preference is nobody’s business. and to make it illegal just reeks of hypcrisy and insensitivity.

    just the way we mistreat AIDS patients everywhere. Have you seen My Brother Nikhil. a stunningly poignant movie about both the issues.

    and then there is borkeback mountain that shows Love goes beyond sexual perferences and sex is just a part of it. the emotion underlying is just simple love. πŸ™‚

    hats off to SIL for being so straightforward in her approach! πŸ™‚




  7. IHM… great post but couple of points…

    we Indians are prejudiced against GAYS there is abs no doubt in that my sis bipolar and I had a tough time accepting it… parents still dont abt it…

    see the way ur neice and nephew reacted to it… though i say kuddos to sil to handle it that way… but in a normal 90% of indian households it would have brushed under the carpets and the kids been told that yes it is indeed the worst letter word…

    one of my friend a gay and married to a girl because he didnt want to tell his parents and he has ruined his and the girls life we tried convincing him but its such a big taboo

    and if i tell him or my sis that we think nutalik is a gay they’ll be hurt very hurt because in a way if we are calling him a gay we are somewhere prejudiced… gays dont go beating girls…


  8. @Rat: “So was Arjuna during his year of disguise…”

    Arjuna was never gay. One can’t be gay for a short period.

    Arjuna was a transgender.


  9. lol..even i thought that the word was starting with F and ending with

    I can relate to your thoughts,bcoz earlier i too used to think the same about homos..But now i have taken the stand of ‘What they do is their bedroom is not my business’..

    Here again,we have some issues bcoz their sexuality may affect somebody outside the frame by issues like STDs ,alchoholism and drugs,which is a social issue,bcoz knowingly or unkwingly,they pass it to others outside the frame..I am stopping for now,bcoz i am feeling dizzy after discussing absolute and relative freedom of space,in my blog..I would like to hear your thoughts on it..only if time permits..No pressure ok πŸ™‚


  10. Where from LOVE is coming into picture when you are talking about GAY-UNION πŸ˜€
    Beating up girls is LOVE?Or thrashing a Hindu girl sitting with a Muslim Boy is LOVE?All they want to do is gain some publicity before elections and in the meantime if they are able to see what lies underneath a girl’s dress they will feel elated.
    I never knew “Chief-Gay” was a 5 class dropout. He might have tried on his teacher(male obviously) and now he is frustrated so badly that he can’t see normal people in normal places.
    Jai Sri Ram πŸ™‚


  11. Yes, homosexuality does throw up some very disturbing questions, but it is something we have to learn to become more tolerant/accepting of.

    I ask myself often, what would I do if my sons announced they were gay? I’ve had this conversation with lots of friends and the MIM. The reactions are worthy of a blog post!


  12. lovely post…cute niece and I think a very sensible Mom they have.

    as for the chaddi campaign…sounds fun…sadly really doubt if that guy is worth it at all.


  13. High 5 to whoever came up with the pink chaddi campaign! And yeah, as long as our laws don’t allow homosexuality, it’s a bit difficult to expect people to get over their petty prejudices, no?


  14. Being a gay or a lesbian is ones own choice! Afterall they don't disturb anyone that way! The funny world that we live in, lets the actual criminals live & punishes the innocent! Shame!!!


  15. πŸ™‚ That was neat handling by sis in law… and the delight of the little one who never got found out, the first time.

    Four letter words suddenly are others too, than The Word. Love and Homo. And even little ones, because of what they may have heard, discussed or been told, find it something to snigger at!

    Teaching homophones, and homonyms, is rather a challenge in the class. You see sly smiles, and other looks, when you explain etymology.. home means same, and phones, means sounds… and so…:)

    And dear God, if you mention Love, even in the third standard, some actually begin to squirm. Thanks to so many many sweet candy films.. :D!

    I loved the way your sister in law handled it :)That is one more saner human, and saner child in the world πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing the link on the pink chaddi campaign. Way to go people πŸ™‚


  16. Wow, that was a good post…It is all a matter of choice, yes, I agree! And I join in sending a pink chaddi to this ignorant ‘loveless’ man!


  17. Well done, Sis-in-law. Its a lot we can learn from. I would have also thought that ‘homo’ was a ‘bad word’.

    As for the pink-chaddi campaign, I only hope it doesn’t turn out to be a poor show,and we women end up being the laughing stock!


  18. Gays in the West are still fighting for equal rights.I wonder how long that fight will last. Sometimes I wondered how I would react if my child one fine day comes to me and says “Mom, I’m gay”. And I knew the answer instantly. Its Okay. Really Okay to be gay. We had gays even in the Kamasutra period. No Big deal!
    I hope gay relationships are treated with equal respect some day.
    BTW, there’s just one thing that bothers me- Some Gay guys acting very femalish to let other people know that they are gay. Is that femalish style also something that they are born with? Do you know?


  19. Sorry, one more comment. I’ve lived in San Francisco for a long time, and have seen many gays. Like I said in my previous comment, their expressions and style is so exaggerated. I clearly remember this one gay guy who was a salesperson at this store, and the way he spoke was truly comical.He was trying to talk like a girl, infact I haven’t seen any girls talk like the way he did. Why do you think they do that?


  20. Those awesome girls made it to the news too!
    They were on NDTV and we were like – We are supporting this campaign! πŸ™‚
    it felt so good to be part of a change…

    and as for Gays, lesbians etc – I always think that a person’s sexuality is their business and we are no one to object or judge people…


  21. It was a nice way of her mother to explain all that to the child.

    Well, yes come to think of it, I never thought mutalik uncle could be a gay too..


  22. i was in class 6 when the movie fire came out. that was the first time i had even heard the term homosexual. mind u this was 11 years ago… my sister told me about it…i had so many questions and thankfully my sis was able to give me unbiased and correct info.. thats why i don’t have prejudices against them now… i got the facts right the first time itself


  23. aww…your niece sounds shooo cute!
    bilkul sahi bola – it’s their life and their wish how they want to live it. The moment someone acts in a way not seen/heard before – it’s considered abnormal and wrong – just because we don’t do it that way.


  24. you do have the cutest niece ever! πŸ™‚ And I admire her mom for explaining the issue to her so simply. I guess if all parents were to do the same, the whole issue wouldnt have been such a taboo topic! It is sad really, the inhuman treatment meted out to gays, all over the world.


  25. IHM!will beback with comments…
    I am missing your posts so much
    havent been able to comment…:(
    pretty late now…
    will come in the morning


  26. WT*ahem*, i thought it will be f***, but she surprised me :). It was really cool of the mom to explain her it without any bias or prejudice.
    Now she knows. California πŸ™‚


  27. Why don't women go & slap Mutalik? Just to show him that it hurts?

    What's the point of sending him pink underwear that will never reach him? It'll be burnt in a pile & he'll refer to it as a protest reminiscent of our Independence Day struggle. Freedom from the shackles of Western Influence etc.

    Let's throng the streets on Valentine's!!!

    It's such a pity that people like him are accorded police security instead of the citizens he's unabashedly proclaiming he'll target!


  28. Great Post. Being a doc I have seen many HIV Positive persons.They were forthcoming to tell their ‘positive ‘status.Among them I am sure some were homosexuals but none were bold enough to tell it. The stigma and discrimination against homosexual Hiv positive persons are much more than mere ‘positive’ persons. The sorry state of affairs now in India is MSM[male having sex with male] is the only group of high risk ppl in whom the incidence of HIV is steadily increasing.The reason is the thick veil of secrecy[fearing discrimination] behind this.


  29. IHM: What nonsense! We don’t have gays in India!

    Thats what I used to think too. I wonder where our feelings of denial come from.

    Nitwit Nastik I didn’t even think, had no idea, gave no thought – total apathy and indifference 😦
    I think a lot of us are like this. But there are others who have an idea, who know that homosexuals exist, but they feel they have a right to condemn, or deny rights. My kids knew about homosexuality because of this friend of ours, but sometimes they tell me the kind myths that are common amongst their peer group, even today! We are becoming an intolerant people.


  30. Pingback: The Liberals will Live And Let Live… « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  31. Pingback: Who is the victim in this crime? « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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