“So, Duamma, do you have a boy now?”

The question that I had been dreading came up during dinner. Right after Thaththi asked the question, Ammi and Malli, too, expectantly looked up at me. Suddenly, the savoury pasta lost its taste and tasted bland in my mouth. I put down my spoon, took a sip of water and forced a smile as I denied having a “boy”. Maybe they tried to hide it, or maybe they intended for me to see it. However, I saw a clear relief in my Thaththi’s eyes and a visible disappointment in Ammi’s. Malli, being who he was, made a disgusted face at me. As I picked up the spoon to eat again, my entire body seemed to be on fire and my throat seemed to have closed up because I had difficulty swallowing. Dinner seemed to drag on after that and my mind was heavy with… I could not figure out the emotion. Was it guilt? Or sadness? Anger? Anger over what? Was it over how they expected me to have a “boy” in particular? Or was it over how they expected me to have a relationship at all, when my mind could not even sometimes fathom who I am and who I want?


The signs probably started to appear at a very young age and I, being the dense one, could not figure them out until much, much, much later. Of course, I should have known when I grew interested in that one student in class 9-C and sometimes searched for her, even in the biggest of crowds. I also should have known when my heart raced upon seeing that one sports captain in class 12-N. This becomes quite complicated when one realizes that I attended an all-girls school from grade 7 to 11 and a mixed school after that. It took me so long to figure it out, even after all these hints and when I finally did, I was drowning in fear. Parents, society, friends, and relatives seemed to peer over my walls every second.

“These walls I built around me are not safe anymore. They are too short. Any of those intruders may jump over. I should build them higher, and higher, till no one can intrude upon me and my undecided emotions.”

These thoughts ran around in my mind every day, every hour and every minute. Judgement awaited every nook and cranny I turned to for comfort. And sometimes, these judgements sprang upon me, disguised in “understanding” façades.

“What is so hard about being you? Isn’t it rather easy? You have choices. If one party doesn’t work out, you can always turn to the other.”

These claims made me laugh bitterly. They must mean well, but don’t they know how these words cut through my very being? Don’t they know how hard it is when neither party accepts me? Don’t they know how painful it is to know that if either party accepts me, society won’t accept me? How could they? They are safely enclosed in ‘acceptable’ habits and desires. Not me.


Years have passed. I have learned to compress myself. Now I have many façades myself. The unruly and goofy one, the calm, collected one, the noisy and playful one, the traditional one, the controversial one, the one who despises ones like me, and the one who accepts ones like me. All these façades are stored away in my closet within my heart, easily accessed when the time arises. But somewhere along the way, while storing these limitless façades, I seem to have misplaced my own true self. I may have thought it was a façade itself and put it away deep into the closet, but now it is lost among the hundreds of others. I always remind myself that I should look for it, but something holds me back. I know I can rely on my façades to keep me going when my true self would always have to tremble in fear of judgement. Until then, she is safe wherever she is while the façades take over for her.

– Rtr. Sayuri Wijesinghe

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