The art of waiting and its rewards

Published: Sep 07, 2018, 07:38 IST | Rosalyn D'mello | Mumbai

After a long wait, the LGBT community in India is now celebrating the end of an archaic, colonial-era law — Section 377

The Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex in a landmark ruling yesterday. Pic/PTI
The Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex in a landmark ruling yesterday. Pic/PTI

Rosalyn D'melloI have much to learn about the art of waiting. When I was a child and I wanted the day I was anticipating to be upon me sooner, I would sleep early because it meant the next day would dawn more swiftly than if I stretched the hours with my wakefulness. But I am older now and sleep doesn't perform the same way as an antidote. I have to learn to be wiser; to be patient.

I try to distract myself with work, with household chores, but each time I hear my phone buzzing I think it might be a text from VFS informing me my application has been processed and my passport is ready for pick-up. Two weeks have passed since I returned from Goa. I should have been back by now, should have been back in front of the river, reading, writing, playing with Cleo and Barfi, listening to music, instead, I am compelled to be here in Delhi, which I wouldn't have minded at all, except that I'd paid to sublet the house for another month, and the middle-class person in me feels let down by circumstances outside my control.

This is what it must mean to surrender; an act I have always resisted because I'd perceived it as a way of accepting the existing status quo and being submissive about one's inability to change situations that lay beyond my authorial control. I'm always looking for ways in which I can empower myself, despite the situation I'm in; it's the only mechanism I know that allows me to reject the nothingness that is limbo. How can I make this work for me is the attitude I have been conditioned to adopt; an off shoot of a dictum my father ingrained in me when my sister and I used to be his sous-chefs; that creativity is about learning to do the most with the little that you have at your disposal. It's about stretching the means without compromising on the ends. It's not just about efficiency or productivity, but also about granting oneself the illusion of being in charge.

I have to write off my Goa sublet as a loss and move on. So, instead of moping excessively, I have ordered vegetable seeds and several types of jasmine plants. Since Delhi has been blessed with expedient monsoonal showers, I figure, it's a lovely time to sow; which is another form of waiting. I went to Mohan Singh Place for the first time and found a tailor named Shammi who is probably making my clothes as I write this — a raw silk coat, a denim skirt, a pair of jeans and an Ankara-style skirt. I'm finishing off new stories, working on my manuscript and getting my suitcases repaired so I don't need to buy new ones. I even managed to get myself a learner's licence in Delhi!

I am meant to leave for Italy in 10 days. I am still visa-less. All I can do is have faith in the process and the system. This was the lesson I've decided to learn; that you can only surrender if you have faith… in yourself, in all the forces that are bigger than you, like the universe, and in people.

More often than we imagine, we are rewarded for waiting well. The dividends can be triple-fold. This morning, for instance, I woke up eager not just for a notification about my visa, but with equal measure of both hope and dread for the future of our individual freedoms as a country. Would Section 377 get repealed or would it remain in its archaic, out-dated form as a colonial vestige that has successfully disempowered so many of our fellow citizens who, by virtue of being human and being Indian nationals, ought to be entitled to the same rights and privileges without being discriminated against because of their gender and sexual orientation. With bated breath I listened to the news, unable to do much else until the verdict had been declared. Then, Indu Malhotra, a female judge and member of the four-jury bench in charge of delivering the verdict said this: "History owes an apology to LGBT persons for ostracisation, discrimination."

She had previously also said homosexuality is not an aberration, but a variation. Since the news broke out I've been crying tears of joy. It's rare these days to feel proud about being Indian when the nation state to which we belong continues to perpetuate so many atrocities in the name of social welfare. This feels different, though, this is not just a step in the right direction, it's a big achievement for the larger cause of our collective humanity. Section 377 could have just been repealed, but the judges, through their individual statements, made a gesture of magnanimity. This is a beginning, sure, but it's also the fruitful end to a certain form of waiting. We've reached the other side of the rainbow.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx Send your feedback to

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