It was nine years they were married. Years of love, happiness and overwhelming fondness for each others. She did not even know how it only got better for her. Her marriage had changed everything. Her aunt spoke very highly of him. She called him a gentle man very few women could ever find. He had stood by her. Her childhood was the opposite of her marriage. Her father had remarried and she was not accepted by the new wife. She was simply asked to go to her aunt’s home and live there. He would give her the money she needed and yet budget it and make her aunt pay more saying, “Your sister died and left her to me, the least you can do is spend a little on her.” In the later years, she had stopped blaming him for these words he has spoken in front of her when she was 12. She knew exactly where they were and the weather and the number of people in the house. He has said this in front of Sara, her school friend. It was not even three years that her mother had succumbed to death in front of her own eyes due to her condition. But she thought it was okay for him to say that eight years later when she was twenty. She knew that he was fooled into marrying a woman, by choice of course for how beautiful her mother looked, but it was all arranged. Just like every man would in those days in India. They had never told anyone that she was ill and that she was to die because they didn’t know how many years she had. It was a miracle when she had survived the pregnancy and delivered a lovely little Amanda. Her mother had given her this name and she held it close to her heart. She would scribble her own name on her books all day at school for months after her mother had left her. In fact, she never let Ethan call her honey or baby or Jaan as people would usually do… She was studying in Bangalore when he came in her life, a white American with blue eyes, simple and ready to make her life his own. She never told him about her life even after three years of being in committed relationship, never let him even meet Aunt Sulekha. After three years when he proposed her, Sara on her side in front of her college campus, all the boys had whistled and the girls had cheered the moment he had got down on bended knees and pulled out a ring, unannounced and unexpected. She had only cried while saying “yes”. She had known that her approval mattered to him in everything from then and indeed, a “yes” had powers that she had now understood. He always asked her what she wanted to do. His words while he addressed the crowd on their wedding day were clear, “I want you in my home, never to leave it. I want you to know, that I will never leave you. I want you to know that without your consent, I would never make a choice that involves us and you will be all that I need.” Later he had joked of how a glass of wine and sometime off from her would be appreciated too as he is only human… and everyone had laughed. He had kept his word. The day they knew she was pregnant, he had asked her, as if there was a choice, she thought. “Would you want to have this baby with me?” and looking at her face go blue and immediately uttered in clarification, “I know your job is very important to you and you have been climbing the ladder. A woman in your place would have chosen otherwise, and I want you to make a choice that makes you happy.”
She knew her father would have detested him, if he knew what Ethan had asked, but now, he was dead to her. The only reason she thought it was not inappropriate was that her father was a Christian and abortion was no way to go. In an unusual situation, she even would have taken that option if she was not married and had to answer to her father, but this was accepted, in this situation, he was her husband. She had taken her time, even though they had celebrated the day after the good news. Then on a weekend, when they had gone to Sara’s home, she had announced that she is having a baby. Ethan had kissed her in front of everyone and had told her, she made him proud. Aunt Sulekha had jumped off the sofa and spilled all the wine on her clothes and yet had ran to her and kissed all over her face like she knew her own mother would, if she were here. She had taken the glass away from her immediately when Sara said, “No wonder, you’re sipping on Coke today” and then had given it back. Sulekha had come out in minutes with an Aarti thali with lit diyas in them and put a tika on her forehead. Sara looked at Ethan and said, “Sweet heart, you don’t understand all this yet, right?” To which he had replied, “I do not have to, I love her.”
Now she had a nine year old child in her arms, crying loudly from bleeding. Roshan was in his bed earlier, naked. He had a blade in his hand and he had done something, no one could ever think of. And now of course, he knew he should never again. She had rushed him to the hospital, all his clothes red with blood. The doctors had asked her to leave, but Roshan would not leave her. Before they could give him some Anastasia, Roshan had said the words, mumbled and yet clear, “I’m sorry, Mama.” “The child survived only because you brought him here on time”, Dr. Rabindra had said. But you will need to keep a close watch on him. Ethan had rushed at that time and was only happy to know that his only child had cheated death. There were many question and a horrible week stood ahead of them.
They were in the hospital for a long time while the child was recovering. All her leaves from work were exhausted. She had to go back to work though. Ethan had got a care taker at home.
Only then did they find out the reason why Roshan had tried to kill himself. The care taker had revealed girl clothed that were hid under the bed by the boy in a suitcase with things only girls could wear. She had presented it to the mother while Roshan was in the bath. Amanda had a blank face when she saw it.
“Why are you giving me children’s clothes”, she had said, “and why have you put them in my son’s favorite suitcase. Don’t you know, he never allows anyone to touch it?”
The lady had said, “It’s exactly the way it was Madam. I am giving you the suitcase, just like it was. These were the things in it. I have been a care taker for years, and you need to address this issue seriously. One such family had taken to a Psych and I must say, you should do the same.”
Of course, the lady was asked to leave in the next time Amanda spoke. She kept staring at what lay in front of her until Roshan had grabbed her attention, squealing and crying again. She did not understand this. She had put it away and spent hours to calm him down reassuring him that she would not beat him.
Later that week, after speaking to Ethan, they had gone for the recommended therapy. But to a regular doctor who had said that it was just usual and that they should not worry. In the end, he had quoted, “it’s just a phase”.
Ethan had asked, “Is my son, gay?” and the doctor has said, “No”.
The trauma at home was now making everything dark and mystical. Ethan had consulted many more doctors by then. He needed to know, if children could make a choice like this already when they are just nine years old.
The nanny she had hired was called back again and Amanda had apologized to her and offered a raise for her behavior and Devki, had simply denied it. In return though, she had made a conversation with Amanda recommending her the name of Dr. Zahir.
Amanda had asked point blank if he was gay himself. She thought it was routine to ask that question as people with such orientation would usually take sides. Devki had revealed that it was not he, but his own brother who was gay and that made Dr. Zahir quite an expert in the subject just by having people like that around him because of his brother, like as if this came from practice. The next morning, she had made an urgent appointment and gone to see the doctor alone to explain things before her son would arrive an hour later with his father. Dr. Zahir had made it a suggestion as the person in this case was a minor and only a parent knew better. He had closed the case of her child being gay in no time. Yet, he had opened a new book they never thought ever existed. He had said that like many young children who take drastic measures to end their life and usually never survive, her son was like the few that survived. “But why would a child try to cut off his own penis Doctor, I do not understand this”, she had said.
Dr. Zahir had now met Roshan several times and his parents, separately but have never answered their questions. In fact, he had told Ethan to not worry about paying at the reception since their third visit understanding that he didn’t want them to think that he was in for the money and it surely was a bomb. The seventh meeting however, came to them as shock.
Dr. Zahir had put all the puzzles in place for them. In clear words though, he had said, “What I am about to tell you, does not change the fact that that little child, is your son. It does not mean, he is any lesser or worse. In fact, he is better than many others you can think of. I say it again; your child is not gay. However, your child believes that he is a girl. He does not like his body and he feels trapped in it. He has been beaten in school for trying a lipstick by some boys and he didn’t mention it to you, smartly understanding that no one would approve of him. He hid this from every one because; he understood that he is different since a long time. Your child believes that he is a girl. No wonder that he is not so good with sports and enjoys his best friends company who is a girl. You cannot conclude yet, but this is called as being a “transgender”.
“I want you to know that no one wants this for their child. In fact, you married to think of a perfect future and as you and I know, it’s like believing in Santa. Your child is normal and yet not the usual. Just because a child as naive as him, is doing such things voluntarily, does not make it right or wrong yet, as he is too young to decide. His identity and personality is his own and no one can force him to decide. If you do that, you will lose him to death for sure this time. To make matters clearer, you child has not ever been molested as I have talked to him about it in ways one should to a child. We may however, revisit this issue when he matures. Do you have any questions”, he had asked in the end. Amanda just sat there, with her eyes wide open and tears rolling from her eyes.
“Now I know”, she had said. “And I can understand it all. I have been so stupid and so negative with all this. My child had to suffer so long just because I would not want to understand”. Dr. Zahir had interrupted saying that, this is unusual and the last thing they would need is to start the blame game. Ethan didn’t know what to say. He had begun to accept it in a different way all together and God had just turn the table again. Only this time, he didn’t know what was to be done now.
A few days later, Amada had told Ethan, that she went through hell in understanding life when she was 9 after her mother had died. She had to adapt to a new living and make good out of all that was given to her. She had to settle because life was unkind to her. She had even wanted to kill herself but never attempted it. She has yet suggested that it was not something that ran in the family and Ethan had agreed. She then told him, “You have taken care of me like I am yours. You know all about my unpleasant life and when I was molested at school as well. All I want from you is to never let that happen to my child. I want him happy, even if he wants to be different from the crowd. I take responsibility for me agreeing to have this pregnancy ten years ago when we knew I was pregnant. You had asked me for my choice and I had made one” “With me”, Ethan had added.
“Yes Ethan, with you. Our job is to protect this child and let him have whatever his life has to offer with a smile and with us on our side.” She had then cried like she had when she walked out of the OR the day her son would have died. “I do not want to be the reason for my child to die. I know it’s not ethical or right or wrong for me to decide or judge what his life could offer for him, and I want him to choose his “Yes” and his “No” on his own. And I will yet be the mother who conceived him despite of what he chooses. I know, it was my choice in the end to have this baby and I do not regret it yet”.
I just have one question for you Ethan; do you accept our child, like the way he is? Do you want to stand with me and face the world, head on, when they laugh at us and mock us for being unethical and stupid? Do you agree to have this child in your arms and feel like a father, the way you did, when you first held him in your arms?
Ethan only had tears in his eyes. He stood there for a few seconds like he could not talk. He then spoke the word “Yes” and yes, it changed everything in their life for the good of their own child. The only reason, they wanted to die old for.
Amanda hugged and cried and cried, remembering the words her aunt and told them. “I am the luckiest wife, alive.”
I took inspiration form a video I saw on YouTube.
“Well, they take an important decision to kill themselves at 12, 13 or 14. We take an oath to do no harm, to do nothing, is to do harm.”
Here is the link.
Everyone wants to marry, blindfolded, when we marry, its not just you and your partner you change the lives of, but your child’s too. Only a better parent, changes their life for their child. So just cause you made a baby, does not mean you are a better parent. Life is hard, not as much for you, as much it is for your child.
God made every one perfect. He made them without your approval. He made them in his image and yet a human and this is human too.