If you must stop living a lie, a difficult conversation must be had.
Yesterday we watched Tanuj Bhramar’s ‘Dear Dad’ (Arvind Swamy, Himanshu Sharma). It’s a short, beautiful film – in fact, if there is anything that interferes with its precise 90-min length, it is the forced intermission that we have in Indian cinemas. It deals with a 45-year-old father (Arvind – who is simply brilliant!) making a confession that he is gay to his teenaged son (Himanshu – who delivers a powerful performance!!) on an impromptu road trip. The script and the narrative are no-nonsense – they look at the family coping with this revelation with shock, denial, struggle, compassion, guilt and, eventually, very, very practically!
And, truly, that is the way families will have to cope with their own truths and realities. Honestly, really, practically.
‘Dear Dad’s’ story is of a father daring to come out to share his sexual orientation. But each family has its own such moments of coming out – for different reasons, in different contexts. So, I think the bigger picture, the larger question to be considered is whether you are going to continue to live a lie or are you going to have that difficult conversation(s) that can make Life much easier, simpler and happier for everyone concerned in the long run?
Why do we fight shy of having honest conversations? Often we think others can’t handle the truth. Or we think we can’t handle a constructive confrontation if it comes down to that. Or you fear being called selfish because you do speak prioritizing your aspirations or needs above those of others. Or the culture of your family is non-conversational – nobody has ever spoken against a visible symbol of authority or faced up to the family’s power center. There can and will surely be other contexts. But whatever they are, you have to examine how you feel when you are living a lie? If you feel you can handle it, maintaining status quo, then avoid the conversation. If you feel you can’t live this way anymore, go ahead and have that conversation, however much you struggle with it. And be prepared to live with the consequences, which, unlike as in the ‘Dear Dad’ story, may even lead to total ostracization.
An honest conversation is phenomenally useful for your inner peace even if it is undoubtedly difficult to have one. Yet, there is no better way to have that honest conversation other than saying it as it is – brutally frank, direct and in-the-face. And when having one don’t expect people to understand your point of view immediately. Embrace the denial, the drama, the struggle and the emotional outbursts as they come. But continue to speak your mind. Over time, people do realize the value of the truth, because it involves everyone. If you are honest, it will always show. And eventually everyone makes their own peace with the way you are, the way their new realities are, even if, in some situations they may choose to shut you out!
I believe ‘Dear Dad’ has done us all a huge service. If we peel away the context of sexual orientation, and stick to considering the value in having honest conversations in a family, it shows us how, despite new – unusual, seemingly difficult-to-accept – contexts arriving, we can still accept, understand and appreciate each other. That is, if we are all ready and willing!