INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING.
We see an ad about ADI with facial photo, personal data on weight, age etc. on shaadi.com. We hear Temple bells from afar. Then we see the reflection of Adi’s actual face on the computer screen, a beautiful boy in his early twenties.
ADI [OFF]: Ma, you’re lying!
Adi sits next to a table with a laptop. Red evening sun shines in through a window. MA enters with fresh gujiya.
MA: What are you saying about your own mother! Have you no shame!
Adi gets up and walks towards Ma with a smile, takes a gujiya and puts it quickly in his mouth before putting an arm around her.
ADI: 185 cm, Ma?
He stands on his toes.
MA: Yes, beta. Just continue with the yoga and you’ll get there.
ADI: I’m not really wheat coloured either. What about writing mud colour; can’t that be a bit sexy? Or brown like Cadbury milk chocolate? Who wants wheat?
Ma hits him lightly on the chest.
MA: Stop fooling around! On the profile picture you’re wheat coloured. You just have to stay out of the sun. Don’t be so difficult. Amir’s mother found him a bride on shaadi dot com in one two three. He’s not 185 cm and wheat coloured. I don’t even know if he likes, well, you know.
ADI (shocked): What?
MA: Adi. You know what they say about him?
I know that you’re close friends, and I see his mother as a sister. But Muslim boys and men are a little different from us, you know. Amir already has a bad name here, and for good reasons I think. If you spend too much time with him, it may rub off.
ADI: Or maybe he’ll get a better name from being with me. I’m going out for while now, Ma.
MA: Out now? You just got home, and the Holi celebrations are about to begin.
ADI: I’ll be back soon.
MA: Where are you going? People…
ADI: People people people. What do you think people are saying about you?
MA: Adi! I’ve only done my best to take care of you and give you a good upbringing. Your father… What could I have done?
She sits down at the table and seems to be on the brink of crying. Adi hesitates for a moment, but then walks over and places a hand, reluctantly, on her shoulder.
ADI: Let’s not talk about him again. I just mean that people say all kinds of things about all kinds of people in this town.
MA: They’ll see. Soon you will be well married. Then you can live here and take care of your old mother.
Adi pulls back his hand as if he suddenly burnt himself on his mother’s words.
ADI: You’re 40 years, Ma. You’re not old. And I’m 23. Old enough. I actually can’t believe that you made a profile about me on shaadi dot com. Did you think I would be happily surprised? I won’t accept this. I’m not going to move back here. I’ll stay in the city after I finish my exams.
MA: I thought this was something we could do together, Adi. Of course you can change the profile as you want. Change the cm and the wheat.
Just delete the whole thing! Don’t worry about me! I can live and die here alone!
ADI: I’m going out now, Ma. I’ll see you later.
Adi exits. Ma remains at the table and comforts herself by eating a gujiya.
EXT. RIVERSIDE – DUSK.
Adi lies with his head on AMIR’s lap. Amir is in the middle of his twenties. He leans towards a Palash tree in full bloom. Chirping can be heard from all the birds that are settling for the night. Some red flowers fall down on the boys. Adi wets a finger, takes some soil on it and draws a line on Amir’s forehead.
AMIR: Blessing me, jaanejaan?
ADI: Would you accept my blessing?
Amir wets a finger, takes some soil on it and draws a line on Adi’s forehead. He continues making a dot on his nose.
AMIR (reciting from Haqiqat al-Fuqara):
So Madho, too, was playing Holi on Basant, handsome and graceful, winsome and coy. Playing with everyone, immersing himself in frolic, teasing everyone and dallying seductively, he strode up to Hussayn very shyly and threw colours over his head and his shoulders. And as he poured colours over his hair and clothes he sang and his body arched in a dance before him.
ADI: Vah, vah! You and your Sufis.
Amir carefully draws around Adi’s lips.
AMIR: Hussayn, in his longing, took on a lively air – his feet suddenly nimble, his steps answered
Madho’s dance. To his haughty grace Hussayn’s every gesture implored and Madho himself became Hussayn’s game of Basant.
Adi has closed his eyes. They remain in silence for a little while. It darkens quickly. Amir looks at Adi and shakes him.
AMIR: Adi, Adi!
ADI: What? What’s wrong?
AMIR: You were sleeping.
ADI: Yes. And why not let me sleep a little, idiot?
AMIR: I don’t know. I was suddenly afraid. Suddenly, I felt so alone.
Adi stands up and looks out over the river. He can glimpse the full moon.
ADI: I was dreaming.
AMIR: What did you dream?
ADI: I don’t know.
I have to call Ma.
He takes a mobile phone out of his pocket and dials her number.
ADI: Hi, Ma. I just wanted to say sorry. I know that I’ve just arrived, and I know that you only meant well. I’ll be home soon, and we can go to the bonfire together.
(Silence, looks at Amir and rolls his eyes)
Yes, I have no shame.
(Silence, caresses Amir’s hair)
Right now? Right now I am by the river.
(Silence, pulls his hand away from Amir and walks over to the river)
Yes, I’m with Amir.
Ma. I’ll see you later.
Amir gets up and walks over to Adi who stands with his back to him.
AMIR: Anything wrong?
Adi-jaan, what is it?
Amir places a hand on his shoulder. Adi pushes it away and turns around so they stand face to face.
ADI: When were you thinking of telling me?
AMIR: I thought you’d be happy.
ADI: Of course. Congratulations, Amir!
AMIR: We’ve made a deal. She knows about you. And she is also in love with someone else.
ADI: And you think no one will find out?
AMIR: People don’t care so much as long as you’re married.
ADI: Does your mother know?
AMIR: I think so. I think she’s happy as long as I get married. Why aren’t you happy, Adi? We can continue.
Adi turns around and sits down by the river. Amir shakes his head, walks over to the tree, breaks off a thin branch. Some birds fly out of the tree. Adi gets back up and turns towards him.
ADI: I don’t know if I want to be your someone else.
AMIR: So how the hell were you thinking of doing this, Adi?
ADI: We could have refused, Amir. You could have come to the city. We could have lived there. The two of us.
Amir walks towards Adi.
AMIR: “We could have lived there. The two of us.” Which country are you living in?
ADI: The country where the anti-gay legislation that the British introduced has been rejected by our courts. The country where there are several cases of same-sex Hindu marriages. I just read in the paper about two girls who got married…
AMIR: And soon after committed suicide, Adi!
ADI: Relax! I have no plans of dying in order to be with you, Amir!
AMIR (recites Mir Taqi “Mir”): God having given these boys such beautiful faces, should have given them a bit of compassion too.
ADI: Don’t you have any words of your own, Amir? Is everything an act?
Amir takes hold of Adi’s shoulder. Adi tears himself loose. They struggle with each other, and Adi falls in the river with a splash.
EXT. UNDERWATER SCENE – MOONLIT NIGHT.
We only hear the sounds of a DOLPHIN. Then we see an unfocused close-up of the dolphin. The image becomes clearer. Adi is hovering in the water while watching the dolphin. The dolphin swims up and disappears in the light from the moon that shines through the water. Dolphin sound changes to flute tune. In the light we can glimpse KRISHNA slowly descending. Krishna is dark, almost blue. He is wearing a golden dhoti, and the bare chest is covered with a flower garland. He has a beautiful face and flowing hair with a peacock feather attached.
Krishna reaches Adi and places his mouth on Adi’s mouth. Maybe giving air, maybe a kiss. Adi exhales and bubbles form in the water. It repeats itself. Adi looks around. Some FIGURES appear out of the bubbles in the blue water. They dance around them. Young and old, women, men and hijras, Amir, Adi’s mother – all appear and disappear in the round dance.
When we again see Adi, it is no longer Krishna but Amir who has grasped hold of him and swims towards the surface. They break the surface and gasp for air. Palash flowers are floating all around them.
EXT. SQUARE – MIDNIGHT.
PEOPLE are gathered around a bonfire on the square. Some walk around the fire sacrificing wheat and oats while chanting religious verses. Amir, who has changed clothes, is standing with AMIR’S MOTHER further away from the bonfire. Adi, who has also changed his clothes, comes up to them.
ADI: Salaam, auntie.
AMIR’S MOTHER: Namaste, beta.
(Silence, looks around)
Where’s your mother?
ADI: She wasn’t feeling well.
AMIR’S MOTHER: How sad, especially now during Holi! Nothing serious I hope?
ADI: It’ll pass.
HIJRAS come up to them, dancing and singing. Amir’s mother quickly hands them some money and turns her attention to Adi and Amir.
AMIR’S MOTHER: You’ve heard that we have a bride for Amir?
AMIR’S LITTLE BROTHER, a boy in his late teens, comes up to them. He shakes hands with Adi, but remains quiet.
AMIR’S MOTHER: I’m sure you’ll find someone soon as well. You’ve started looking, right?
ADI: I’ve already found someone.
AMIR’S MOTHER: Oh? I can’t believe your mother hasn’t said anything. Who’s the lucky girl? Is it someone you’re studying with? Is it through shaadi dot com? Have you set a date?
ADI: It’s a boy. A very unlucky, Muslim boy.
AMIR’S MOTHER: You must be about to finish university now soon? Your mother misses you so much. It’ll be good for her to have you back here and married, beta.
Adi looks at Amir.
AMIR: Ammi, I’ve changed my mind.
AMIR’S MOTHER: No, beta. No.
(Silence, places her hands on her head)
I don’t seem to feel very well either. Maybe it’s something in the air. I want to go home now.
AMIR’ LITTLE BROTHER: I’ll take you, Ammi.
AMIR: I’ll stay here with Adi.
Amir’s little brother nods. Amir’s mother looks terrified at Amir before she sends Adi a poisonous look, turns around and walks away.
There is quite a crowd around the bonfire now. Adi and Amir smile at each other. Adi takes Amir’s hand. They walk around the fire together.
CLOSE-UP OF THE FIRE, ONLY FIRE AND ITS SOUND
(Vikram Kolmannskog is a writer, psychotherapist and human rights lawyer. He is of Indian and Norwegian origin and currently lives in Oslo, Norway. The Sufi poems recited are based on translations in Vanita, R. and Kidwai, S. (2000) Same-Sex Love in India. St. Martin’s Press: New York)