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Raised Eyebrows

Nirmika Subba | June 25, 2020
Raised Eyebrows

As we grow older, one tends to look for relationships that hold gravitas. Selfish, superficial and shallow relationships are shown the door, while we warmly welcome genuine relationships – the ones that are for keeps. Friendships evolve as you hold onto your friends not only for the sake of ‘hanging out’, but to confide in them, to be accepted the way you are – good or bad, while you aren’t appalled by their weirdness or repelled by otherwise unacceptable mannerisms.

Many may raise their brows in response to what I am going to share with you today, but with time and age, I have sieved and filtered my relationships and friendships. Only a handful have found an entry into my list and while I may not write or talk to them every day, when we meet – sometimes even after months or years – we simply begin from where we left off.

One of my closest friends was in town

It was during the 2019 Indian national elections. I was super excited! Not because I am someone who’s interested in the political tug-of-war but rather because one of my closest friends was coming home from Bengaluru, after a year. As responsible citizens, we cast our votes and made a plan to hit the pub over the weekend.

We had decided to meet at a shopping mall. We met in the atrium, hugged, air kissed and headed for the pub. As we rode the escalator, I could see many pairs of eyes staring at us, from head to toe. On the corridor, people raised their eyebrows as we walked past; some even turned back for a second glance. Since I had gotten ready in a hurry, I wondered if something was wrong with my make-up or hair. I even looked down to check if my trousers had a tear.

I could see raised eyebrows

We entered the pub, and as we were being shown towards our table, I could see raised eyebrows and whispers yet again. Once settled at the table, I excused myself to go to the washroom. I checked my face in the mirror. I felt my eye shadow was a tad too dark so I grabbed a tissue and rubbed it a little. I exited the washroom, confident that I would no longer be subject to sniggers. But as I walked towards our table, I could see the whispering and sniggering had continued even in my absence. It was then that I realised that it wasn’t me they were staring at with raised eyebrows.

It was my friend! Why? Because my best friend was born a ‘he,’ and not ‘she’. But ‘he’ was a ‘she’ now. Yes! My closest friend is transgender. I seethed with anger as I walked past hypocritical diners, but I maintained my calm when I saw my friend’s happy face.

We fail to empathize with the LGBTQ community

The world is such. We raise eyebrows, criticise, gossip and laugh at things which are beyond one’s control. We body shame those who are either too fat or perhaps too thin. We worry when a child is born with dark complexion, especially if it is a girl. We are a clan, who on seeing someone else’s misfortune say, ‘Thank God! It isn’t me.’

Our response to the third gender is such too. We fail to empathise with them, we fail to try and understand their emotional turmoil. Born in a world which is rigidly divided into male and female, they struggle to find their identity. Many are forced to marry a partner against their choices. We cannot even begin to fathom the kind of life they live after that. Some parents even forsake their children if they are of the third gender, only because they are worried about what society will say or think.

People with ‘gender identity disorder’ will always live lives of social outcasts and will be termed ‘abnormal’ among the so called normal people like you and I.

Let’s treat all fellowmen with respect, love and care

It is time we stop raising our eyebrows. As educated people, let’s treat the LGBTQ community with a little more tender love and care and help strengthen the fragile emotional footing on which they stand. Let us expend our energy in solving more burning issues.

We must make a conscious effort to take off this mask of ignorance and stop looking at the world as black and white. Let us raise our eyebrows when an infant or woman or even a man is raped. Let us raise our eyebrows when humans, religions and castes divide our society into pockets of hatred and bigotry. Let us raise our eyebrows when humans do not respect their fellow beings. Let us raise our eyebrows when there is lack of awareness and education. Above all, let us raise our eyebrows at the mess we have made of our planet.

Do not raise your eyebrows at my friend, for when I see her, I see no sex, caste or creed. What I see is a loving heart, a warm person, my confidante – a wonderful human being. Borrow my eyes instead, will you?


Nirmika Subba

In her own words, Nirmika is a hopeless pluviophile in love with the petrichor, crazy enough to dance in the rain and give up on the world. She is drawn to the pitter-patter of rain drops on a tin roof, and Nirmika would ideally complement the occasion with a steaming mug of tea and a book in her hand.

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