At Cafe Mondegar, Kavya asked me to click a photo of us to post on Instagram. She was wearing a flowery flowy dress, her hair freshly curled from the parlour for this meeting with her father. The initial plan had been to wear an orange jumpsuit that she had bought to look. She put on the jumpsuit, then the dress, then the jumpsuit, then the dress again finally, saying the jumpsuit looked “too edgy”. Another failed attempt at finding her look, which always ended with her wearing the same old pink flowery polyester dress, the default feminine look that she loved to hide behind.
Looking at a picture of us together made me wonder: what am I doing with her? A seasoned dyke like me, so sure of my fashion, in my red corduroy jacket, black tee and Levi's jeans, white shoes, sporting a pink buzz cut. A dyke in my early thirties, in my prime, slick, posh and proud. So level-headed, confident, and successful. I should be with someone like me, another proud dyke who oozed self-importance, who knew what she wanted. What am I doing with a straight girl like Kavya?
Kavya started planning her wedding when she was three. Her purple lehenga to match her Gujrati groom’s purple turban. She falls in love with every guy she meets. And then she eats me out eagerly every night. Straight in the streets, carpet-eating freak in the sheets. She spends all her time imagining a life together with these men. I don’t care, so we talk about it in great detail. Her mediocre his-and-hers fantasy, a suburban house and two children who don’t have her bulbous nose.
What was perhaps more pathetic was her meet-cute Bollywood fantasy of hating a guy who hates her, and they both slowly fall in love. A fitting spinoff of the love-hate relationship she shared with her father. She was so sure she was falling for this arrogant guy in her office. She kissed him at an office party and felt nothing. After that, she diverted all her attention towards me, cooking grand meals for me, calling me every hour with proclamations of undying true love, suffocating me every minute in my house by staring at me constantly and asking me how work was. It was better when she loved a guy, so I directed her gaze at one of our neighbours. Even invited him for dinner. A cocky young lawyer who she can’t stop swooning over. I guess I’m just waiting for her to have sex with a guy and have the whole thing play out. We’ve been seeing each other for two years and she’s practically moved in with me. This was never my style.
Every time I think I’m through, she looks at me with her puppy eyes. I’ve grown soft for her. She told me that I was the only one who understood her, the only one who wouldn’t judge her for who she was. I get why she would want to have a normal drama-free life where everyone approved of her. I never wanted to choose between living a conventional life and an authentic life, either. I made peace with it when I ran away from home. But she can’t. She sees herself through other people’s eyes.
In a way, every queer woman I’ve met is broken. The double whammy of being queer and being a woman; it’s enough trauma to not be able to live one cohesive life. I knew about section 377 before I knew about sex. I knew the dire consequences of the love that dare not speak its name. I’ve wasted so many years trying to immigrate to a country where I can marry a woman. I poke fun at Kavya for wanting a boring normal life, but I’d give almost anything to just have a spouse and a family.
We were at Cafe Mondegar to meet her father. She said she wanted to come out to him, and that’s why I’d picked a noisy cafe. It was an act of self-defense. He probably won’t show. This is the fourth time he was in Mumbai for “business” but he always made plans and then ghosted us. She hasn’t seen him in five years, she said divorced kids are used to it. But every time he ghosted us, she went into this spiral of self-hate. I have to get Molly to fix her every time. I have Molly on me right now.
She falls for every guy she meets and eats me out eagerly every night.
It must suck to want validation from a person you hate. Especially from a sleazy businessman like her father who tried to take loans out in her name without telling her. Who never paid alimony and tried to take their house. He didn’t even tell her mother that he’d got married again and had a son. They found out when he was in an accident, and they visited him in the hospital. Another woman and a young boy were just hanging out in the room. The whole thing would have made me never want to talk to him again. But men can do anything they want and still have women quiver for their attention.
Her dad calls, says he’ll be here in fifteen minutes. That got Kavya so excited, I had to remind her that he was already an hour late. Is he really going to show up today? Guess I better prepare to make conversation with him. Middle-aged men are easy. You find out which IPL team they support and tell them you support them too. Watch highlights from recent cricket matches and talk about how well some dude hit or caught a ball. But it was hard to know which team he liked. He was a Gujarati from Kolkata who used to live in Bombay and now lived in Delhi.
I opened his Facebook profile on my phone to see if he liked any of the IPL team’s Facebook pages. He had liked Royal Challengers Bangalore’s page. A Mallya fan. Why am I not surprised? More interestingly, he’d liked so many, many barely-SFW profiles of busty women showing off their giant asses. One page was called Girls Gone Wild. It had a picture of two women in bikinis with their hands in each other’s panties. I couldn’t help but open that page.
The first post was an xHamster video with two women sitting on their knees with their bare asses on display. It was titled: Five stunning girls in a circle eating each other’s pussy. I hated watching porn, but I was very tempted to click on the link, if only to see how five girls are able to eat each other’s pussy simultaneously while sitting in a circle. Or maybe they start like that and then some of them lie down. Her father had liked the video.
Suddenly, a hot flash took over and my skin burned as I wondered if her father would think of this video when Kavya told him about me and her. Wouldn’t that be awkward? Him imagining his daughter and me in a pussy eating circle of some kind? Do I want to see the look on his face when he imagines that? He wouldn’t think of us as two women in love, celebrating each other’s bodies, embracing each other on a cold rainy day. He wouldn’t think of us as partners, friends, confidants, mentors of each other. He wouldn’t picture us talking to each other into the night, cooking for each other, going out for a walk together. His mind would jump to the only two-girl configuration he has known, that he’s watched over and over again. We should play Finish the Sentence. Two girls _____. I know what he’d say.
I watch him enter the restaurant, waving at us.
K Vaishali’s the author of Means to an End (Leadstart Publishing, 2017). Her short stories made The Leicester Writes prize 2021 shortlist and The Disquiet International prize 2021 longlist, and are published in several Indian literary journals. She is looking for a publisher for her auto-fiction book about growing up a dyslexic lesbian in India. Visit on her website and Twitter.