Tuesday, September 10, 2019

'So Now You Know: Growing Up Gay in India' by Vivek Tejuja-Book Review

A year after the colonial era law of Section 377 was decriminalized Vivek Tejuja’s memoir 'So Now You Know: Growing Up Gay in India' has hit the shelves. I pre-ordered the book not just because of its premise, I was also interested in the voracious reading habit of the author as I follow him on social media for book recommendations. Now that I have read this one, my belief in the power of reading and befriending books has only gotten stronger. Sometimes we turn to books to give ourselves company, fighting a hundred battles within and the outside world. While we read and read and read our subliminal self makes a world of its own where everything is the way we want it to be. We grow stronger, wiser and happier. Therefore, we are in a better place. The Hungry Reader definitely is.

Here is his blog.

Vivek writes about his love for reading and the solace he found in the seas with all that he had to go through. A stereotypical Indian household and standard upbringing, bullying in school and unrequited love, friendships and relationships, social acceptance and the question of identity from the age of nine to nineteen are some issues he writes about. Life is not easy if one is different, we live in a world where hypocrites rule. Despite people coming out to accept their sexual orientation and gender identity, there will be at least one conversation where someone would go “Hey did you know? He is gay!”

Which law to change societal attitude?

I read this book while travelling in the Metro train this morning, the stares and glares I got from people sitting in the opposite row was quite predictable. It did not matter to me, what was important to me was my connection to the author as a reader. My eyes were moist while I read Vivek’s experiences, I did not stop reading. In fact page ninety-six changed me as a person.

I remembered a young boy in his early twenties who was in my cabin in the hospital on a Sunday morning for his retro positive status, while I was following my standard format of counselling midway through the conversation he stopped me to say

” Doctor I am gay…”

I had to pause for a while and realign my thoughts to counsel him for treatment again. I cannot share more details because of confidentiality and ethical issues. While he got himself tested and started his therapy, I was happy that I did not treat him differently for what he is. He must have had a war inside his head to reveal this to me, a stranger whom he met five minutes ago.

All people want is respect for their being, love and acceptance is something we don’t ask for from everyone. If people who mean the world give it to us there is nothing like it. Vivek has literally kept his heart out there in this book, a warm hug to you for that. I am going to treasure this book on my shelf. May your bookshelves overflow, may your writing grow.