I love parades. And don’t care much for them. 

But they are an excellent vehicle to flee. Precisely what I am doing now. With my stiff rainbow wig and my tasseled rainbow jumpsuit, I sprint across the street, the police van at my heels.

There! I’ve merged into the colourful crowd. With their tattoos and candyfloss-like headgear. Aren’t they overdoing the rainbow bit? Why pride-march when you can do whatever you want in a closet? So much for a bank-robber’s opinion!

Wee-woo! Wee-woo!

The police van! I inhale deeply. They would never suspect me. Good choice of costume, I smirk. The loot  is strapped over my belly, giving me a typical beer-bellied middle-aged gay uncle appearance. The Jeep we hired for the escape lies abandoned a mile away from that ill-fated bank. Our black outfits lie on its floor.  ‘Shubh- Mangal Cooperative Bank’, I smile at the irony.

“You forgot the kohl.”

The voice startles me. I can feel the hot breath of the speaker at my nape. A shiver runs down my spine as I turn towards him. Or is it her? No way to tell. 

“The kohl rules the list of stereotypes for our tribe!”

He walks by my side, a hand on his slim waist. His lithe form shimmies in a newspaper-print spandex suit. His shirt collar is asymmetric, just like his pixie-cut hair. Red painted lips, a nose ring. Kohl-rimmed eyes.

I quicken my pace. No time for this gay nonsense.

“Walk faster and the cops will know.”

He laughs at my baffled expression, “Cute baby-bump!”

Run! My mind tells me. I can’t. I’m not even thinking of the police. Why am I staring at his lips? Gawd!

I can’t take my eyes off him. The supple curve of his calf, his sharp jawline, his Adam’s apple that yo-yos as he swallows in amusement. 

Are those violins playing in the background?!

“Those really are violins. They’ve rehearsed for months!” He chuckles.I notice his dimple, and sink into it.

I am about to slap myself when he restrains my hand. Firm pressure. The kind that hurts. And feels right. 

“Why should gay love feel any different?” He lets go of my hand. in a dramatic sweep.

I am to exit the parade at Teen Darwaza, as per the plan. Only, now I can’t. Because he is walking by my side. And I will never leave. 

A nail digs into my shoulder. I wince, in pleasure. He pulls me into a dark alley. I shudder, as my lips find his. His hands unzip my jumpsuit…


A police danda lands on my back. The loaded bag lies open at my feet; wads of green currency notes lying dead, like my heart.

There’s no sign of him. Strips of newspaper fly in the wind. As they handcuff me, one catches my eye.

The headline reads- Bank Manager dismissed for being gay. Commits suicide. Below is a picture of him. The banner behind him reads Shubh-Mangal Co-operative Bank Ltd.
Shubh-Mangal: phrase meaning auspicious
Danda: Stick, cane
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Khushboo Shah
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  1. Wow!! I just loved it. The language is beautiful. And the narration is like poetry in prose. I could picture the entire story, as if it was colorfully playing before me. And till the end, I couldn’t guess a thing, you kept the mystery on.

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