The Day I Discussed My Threesome with My Mother Over Dosas
My mother is my Earth, moon and sun, my universe. If I didn’t tell her everything it was like I hadn’t done it.
My mother is my Earth, moon and sun, my universe. If I didn’t tell her everything it was like I hadn’t done it.Courtesy: Aroop Mishra/The Quint

The Day I Discussed My Threesome with My Mother Over Dosas

Our golden brown crackly rava dosas had arrived. Hers – masala, mine plain. My mother was about to get into her standard lament about my love life and how she felt bad about the fact that I lacked a regular romance. She had always wanted a Mr. Darcy (a la Pride and Prejudice) to enter stage left–tall, brooding, intellectual–and sweep me off my feet. “Ma it’s not like my love life is a blank slate,” I said to her across the restaurant table.

“I haven’t filled you in on it lately because it’s rather irregular, in an experimental phase,” I said, knowing full well what I had unleashed. My mother is my Earth, moon and sun, my universe. If I didn’t tell her everything it was like I hadn’t done it.

But the nature of my love and sex life was such that it wasn’t the kind of thing I could toss around as we dipped our dosas into gunpowder and ghee.

On the other hand, the silence had created a gap and I wanted to erase that. And validate my existence the only way I knew. Telling my mother like it was, putting the most difficult to swallow, caricature-single-dom bit out first.

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A Lot Can Happen Over A Dosa

“You did whaaaat?” she said, choking over her food and quickly looking over her shoulder to see who else had heard. I don’t speak softly and Sagar Ratna is a good middle class restaurant where decent people go. “It wasn’t a big deal, it just happened,” I continued, not trying to downplay anything but to explain that it was exactly how it had turned out in the end. Like an oversold movie promo on Netflix that once it plays, you are completely underwhelmed by it. My mother wanted the details, eyes as wide as saucers.

Much later, I realized what I was doing. This conversation was something I was actually having with myself via my mother. I wanted to smash the Jane Austen-Pride and Prejudice idea of romance I had grown up with.

To tell her and therefore myself, that being single was a thing in its own right and didn’t need any supporting evidence of coolness to exist. My mother pretended to be `kewl like dat’ and take this conversation in her stride. But the next day she called my cousin and asked her, “Did you know about all of this?” My cousin replied in the affirmative. “I didn’t realize I have a promiscuous daughter!!!” she said into the phone.

My cousin relayed all of this to me and I explained that I actually had less sex my entire adult life than the average married couple has in one year, only it’s with different people. After some to-ing and fro-ing, my mother understood. I was trying to tell her, admittedly with some vicarious, dramatic flair that I was okay single, more than okay. And she should not worry about me on that count at all. She didn’t ask about my love life after that and I filled her in thereafter with whatever and whoever added on to my layered cake.

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When You Go Stale and Soggy

But I was hiding behind the drama. I was telling everyone everything and coming back to storify myself as much as I could, to defend my single-ness. It’s only now, in my mid-forties, a decade after that dramatic dosa lunch that I have been able to truly be comfortable with my single-dom. I have thrown off some of the attendant anxieties built into its fabric and learned to live with some. For instance there is the ‘what will you do when you’re old and infirm’ question that everyone asks.

I now have a counter. “Well, what do two old and infirm people do? Pull out each-others’ dentures, wash each-others’ underclothes? When one falls on the floor, the other tries to pick them up and also falls down…it’s there in Atul Gawande’s book - Being Mortal,” I said to a friend over dinner the other night.

But the single status needs to be talked about more, especially the subject of sex.

The reason LGBTQ or people identifying as queer are so stigmatized is because of an underlying and fairly ridiculous presumption amongst many in India that on the other side are married people having sex with each other and nothing else. That straight people have always been transgressive is no secret except that it also is. Who talks about polyamory or about extra-marital affairs and the part single people play in it as the third person in many marriages? Been there, done that I will say to set the record straight about regular and irregular behaviour. One-night stands, experiments with more than one partner are as much the domain of us straight people. We need to amplify these conversations so that the stigma against queer people as being amorous disappears.

Also Read: Indian Culture Does Recognise Homosexuality, Let Us Count the Ways

Recipe for Disaster

But I digress. I am still covering my own discomfort and the journey out of it with activism and political correctness. To tell myself that I really am okay with coming home just to myself. And that aloneness isn’t just the preserve of single-dom.

It’s taken time for me to see that for me, there isn’t and will never be just one person who is the repository of all my emotional stress. I have also discovered that making just my lover the go-to person is a recipe for disaster.

And many married couples I know that are still into each other and living together out of choice say this is key.

Friends and lovers equally must make our world go round. But this `gyaan’ has taken time, many broken relationships and sleepless nights to arrive at. And before I got there, I must say, my mother did. She took all I said to her in defense of my single-dom on board. She acted on it.

Also Read: SC Read Down 377 And My Parents Told Me to Broadcast My Sexuality

Time for Desserts

I had stomped my feet and ranted and raved about the fact that she had raised me to be fiesty and feminist and then set aside a trunk full of kitchen ware - `bartans’ to give me when I got married? Really? “Give those bartans to me now Ma, as a single person paying bills is harder and if I can save on some pots and pans then why not?” My mother listened carefully and took that on board.

One afternoon, the doorbell rang. It was my mother’s driver who arrived with the said steel trunk. “Yeh mem-sahab ne bheja hai, madam has sent this,” he said. After he left, I opened up the trunk. There were beautiful stainless-steel pots and bowls of every description.

I burst into tears. “My mother has given up on the prospect of me getting married,” I bawled to myself.

And then laughed out loud. I am ridiculous.

(Revati Laul is an independent journalist and filmmaker based in Delhi. She tweets@revatilaul. This is a personal account. The views expressed above are the author’s own.The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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