I Chose To Be Myself : Manju Bista

When I was a child I was unaware about my feelings and my sexual orientation. In school, I had seen a girl who used to dress up like a boy.  I was very attracted to it. I didn’t give a thought about what and why I was feeling at that time. I normally used to have a group of girlfriends and I rarely spoke to boys.

Since my childhood I disliked the idea of marriage between men and women. I heard about the problems and had seen disputes. I then realised I was attracted to girls who looked a bit like men. I don’t know how it started but I knew that it was an unusual feeling. One day I had a conversation with my mother about what I felt. I told her, “I like the girls who wear men’s clothes.” In response she answered, “Some people like that style.” I told her I felt something a bit different and she changed the topic of our conversation.

I was the oldest child growing up in a strict family. I have a younger sister and brother. We were not allowed to leave the house after 5 pm. I was quite a silent kid and used to stay at home most of the time. My sister used to tell me all about her conversations with people outside the house that I never participated in.  I used to spend my time cleaning the house, solving math problems and studying. I never went for partying or dated anyone. I never liked when my friends talked to guys. Whenever I saw a couple, a boy and a girl, dating I felt like it was an act. Like it was fake and would be short lived. I never believed in love stories. Men were always using women around me.

Time passed by and I went to college.  I was in eleventh grade when my friend said that there was a job vacancy in Kathmandu.

The same day I arrived, I met her in a marketing office at Jorpati. She immediatly started flirting with me but I didn’t even look at her. Our visit got more and more frequent after that first meeting.

Gradually I realized what kind of person I am. What I like and feel. I became aware of my sexual orientation.

Whenever she called me, I used to run to see her. Time didn’t matter. I used to bunk my college to see her, nothing mattered. I could not control my feelings. At 19 I fell madly in love with her.

The first person I spoke to about my relation was my mother. Her reaction was “What nonsense are you talking? These kinds of things don’t exist.” Then both my parents were upset with me. More than upset they were angry. They tried hard to separate us. They took me back to my home town. But they could not stop me from coming back to her in Kathmandu again.

There’s always been a stereotypical thinking about sexual orientation in our society. They have always perceived us in a negative way. The way people look at us when we walk down the streets and the way they whisper.

“How can two girls be lovers? Is she really your husband?” These questions hurts my heart.

 I know it’s hard for my parents to accept what I am. They had their own dreams of my life and I didn’t fit it.

While choosing a life partner there is no rule that it should be man or a woman. It is not necessary to have children when we get married. There are couples who don’t have children. Its ok. 

We got legally married five years ago. Since then we have been living together. There were difficulties and I had to work hard for a living.
Today, even though our families have not accepted us completely, they welcome us. I go to my husband’s parent’s house and stay there. Her mother treats her as the youngest son and me as her daughter in law. I normally don’t visit my parents because its still difficult for them.
They cry often when they see us. Through the years I have realised and accepted that its impossible to satisfy everyone. We have to ignore the fact that they are not satisfied with our relationship. They do not accept us for what we are and we have moved on with our life.

We are respected in a place like Mitini Nepal and the house where we live. They talk to us nicely referring me as Bahini (sister) and Bhai (brother) to her. My friends know about us and support us as well.

My life is my choice and I can’t change what I feel. There are some people who are unaware and uneducated about sexuality and sexual orientation. And then there are others who are educated but choose to remain ignorant.

DSC_2821editedI used to work at a shop. Once during a conversation with the shop owner I told him that my husband is Newar, similar to him. He asked to meet my husband. So I took her along with me. Later he said “Your husband seems like a girl” sardonically. The next time I went to work I took a book for him by Sunil Babu Pant; the LGBTI activist from Nepal. Finally he understood me.

Our government should issue provision of getting citizenship from the name of women and thus from lesbian partners. The provision of getting parental properties should be implemented in lesbians and gays as well. I feel sometimes that it’s useless to speak about it for they never implement what we ask for.

We live just like a normal couple would. We had to deal with situations when we barely had enough money. But we didn’t fight, we stood together hoping for the better days to come and resolved problems as they came up. I have worked in a garment factory, learned sewing and worked in fancy shops. Now I hope to be able to open a tailoring shop soon.

There are many people like us. They make choices and it’s their right. Let them live as they want to be, instead of pinching with harsh words and making fun of them. Try to understand and support them.

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