One gloomy July evening, when I was still at university, I found myself having an epiphany in front of my mirror.
I was amazed at what I had witnessed that morning – you, in a bright sky blue sari, hibiscus flowers in your asymmetrically cut hair, mesmerising eyes flashing, walking like you owned the place. It dawned on me that I was having as much difficulty facing myself as I did reconciling your distinctively masculine voice and physique with the image you had decided to portray. It had taken a stranger in a sari and beard to make me wonder if I was living life or simply surviving.
In a heteronormative society such as ours, where black and white are the only colours on the palette, you had the courage to paint yourself in grey. In a space where words cut deeper than knives, you were your own bulletproof armour. In a world of indistinguishable masks, you bared your skin. You were your own personal revolution – a blip in a society that was too ruthless to let you go unscathed.
Much later, as I watched you question your audience why they were so scared of who you chose to be, I understood. When you spoke about the scars you’d received in return for fighting for the freedom to live the way you wanted to, I understood. When you spoke about how you might have lost a few battles but were determined to win the war, I finally understood that it takes only one person to start a revolution.
My epiphany? That I had to write the punchline of my story myself. Oscar Wilde might have easily said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” but for some, to do so is to ignite a tiny spark that might turn into a mighty forest fire. The most effective rebellions begin within our hearts, when we choose to be the change we wish to see. Changing the system requires us to first be true to ourselves and rip away the masks of pretentiousness that we’ve been forced to wear, consciously or otherwise.
Thank you for reminding me not to become another brick in the wall.