Written by L
• I like Peaches
• You can’t
• I like the taste
• You are supposed to only like Jackfruits
• But I like Peaches, and sometimes Watermelon too. In fact, even thinking about Jack fruit makes me want to throw up.
• That’s our national fruit, how dare you speak like that.
• I didn’t mean any offence, also that’s not actually going to alter my taste. You realize it’s not really something I can control, right?
• No but you must try, it’s unnatural to like the other fruits and not jackfruit.
This is a format of one of the holy scripts that dominates my society. To make it a bit more realistic, you may use genital parts instead of fruits. And the term ‘unnatural’ here can also be interchangeable with ‘Haram’, ‘abnormal’, ‘a sin’…and the list goes on.
I was in my 20s when I found my religion inside a small shady ‘female prayer’ room, making deals with sexism, colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism and things I don’t even want to identify.
Like many others, life built a draft identity for me when I was a kid. And like most of us, it seemed a bit ridiculous to carry that draft around while the original script laid crumbling and collecting dust inside my closet. This is a story about my Identity, back when I used to call her
“Nothing”; it’s about how Nothing fell in love with another identity named “Unknown”.
When I first saw a person with Unknown’s identity, he was reading a Maths book inside a busy clubroom in NSU. The room was chaotic, people were crowding inside, shouting, laughing, playing UNO and throughout all that hype, he was sitting in that corner reading about Infinite Series. He was wearing a green shirt with watermelon doodles.
Unknown smirked at me when they realized I was getting flustered. They let me into their safe space and months later, we started exchanging leaf pictures on Messenger.
Life changes a lot in a span of 4 years though. Unknown seeped away as the person slowly attuned himself with another Identity. I was too immersed in the materialistic world to be aware of it. And that is how Nothing drifted apart from Unknown before my final year. I felt that old ache of loneliness. I ran aimlessly, blindly and the last thing I remember he told me was, to stop running.
I didn’t of course.
Not until I bumped into Unknown again while playing football in a grassless, uneven field in Banani. We crashed so hard that I saw this dark Infinite space without galaxies; it was the first time I saw Nothing.
When I came back to reality, I saw a person I have never interacted before but still a rush of familiarity hit me. She was hovering above me, all agitated, touching my sweaty face with her rough, yet soft hands; what a juxtapose I thought.
I didn’t outright discover Unknown inside this new person I was becoming so overly fond with. Now when I think about it, Unknown was very bold with their indications during that second time we found each other. The immediate creation of our own safe space, the unfiltered laughs eroding my insecurities, the undivided attention while listening to me profess my love for trees and leaves — are some of the traits Unknown always had which connected them to Infinity and made them who they are.
However, this time as Nothing tried to steer their way again through this new Unknown’s territory, they felt the presence of an unwanted entity; an army of irrational ideologies of society from that dingy small prayer’s room.
Nothing felt shivers and deep strokes of uncertainty as the army marched out from nooks and crannies, highways and billboards, mosques and festivals, books and music lyrics — from our own parents and friends, murmuring about what’s ‘normal’, ‘haram’ and ‘part of our culture’.
I could not daydream about going on a milkshake date with her in Banani, because my throat used to clog up as I pictured my parents hovering above us, as if waiting to officially disown me like the rest of Dhaka city would.
A city which usually gloats about my instrumental roles, my degree, my responsibilities as a daughter but was still adamant to outright reject my choice when it came to loving someone. It’s pressing disappointment and rejection clamped me down.
I could not daydream about cuddling her or watching a movie with her in Cineplex because panic attacks would veil my vision to enjoy the plot. The constant reminder of reality, poisoned the whole experience to love her the way I wanted to.
I am not a dreamer like John Lennon visioned, but I prayed their lyrics like some sort of a mantra because I was tired. I was tired of not even being able to indulge myself in holding her hands, touching her face, tasting her moans. Loving her felt like a suicide mission. The draft which life made for me, ensured that I break apart if I move a bit astray from its pattern.
As the idea of all my safe pillars crumbling down paralyzed me, Nothing too fell into this numb depression when it understood the unfair, irrational depths of these limitations, the structural layers of it.
But here’s the thing with Unknown, anything is possible in her realm.
Every time we wrote ‘pandemic emails’ to each other, Nothing felt the soft, calming ripple effects of Unknown changing my core. She whispered and asked Nothing to test the water, to feel its slow rhythmic strokes caused by the underneath big strong concrete pillars reaching towards us.
She opened her city of Atlantis for me, and the glaring pressure of Dhaka city slowly faded away as we drifted towards each other. And as her tanned hands touched my face again, I saw that infinite space for the second time in my life. This time it wasn’t dark and blank. This time, it had all its galaxies blinding the rest of the world.
And as the original crumbled script predicted, Nothing became Infinite.
I laughed, when I realized Unknown tasted like peaches when she transformed and became the Universe.
Source: Queer Women Fiction Story Competition – a collaboration between Mondro and an online Queer group (2020)