Kolkata: They got married on Christmas Eve last year with the blessings of a friend-turned-purohit and their buddy gang cheering them on. Relatives and friends attended their reception. It was like any other Bengali wedding. Except for the fact that the bride and the groom were successful women.
While Suchandra Das is an established photographer, Sree Mukherjee works with a corporate house. Soon after marriage, the couple moved to Chennai where they have been living happily ever after. While the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to re-examine its verdict on homosexuality and referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench, both believe that in a democratic country, no one can tell a person who to love. Besides, Section 377 of the IPC isn’t only about homosexuality, they say. “It also involves heterosexual couples if they practice anything that deviates from the process of making babies. So, this law is not about LGBT issues. It is about human rights,” they said, adding that coming out of the closet is very important. “But such a decision should be taken after ensuring financial solvency and family support,” they advise.
Sree said the couple has always lived life on their own terms. “It is our life. Hence, we were the ones to decide our marriage. Some day I hope people will understand that it is not anyone else’s business to decide who a person wants to spend his or her life with,” Sree said. The SC decision, Suchandra said, has given them hope. “There is a way forward. We hope love wins. Laws are made to benefit mankind. But here, the law is wrong. Not just law, no one can govern our marriage,” Suchandra said.
They recalled how they were overwhelmed by the reaction from well-wishers at their wedding. “Some of my professional clients too attended the wedding. They respect my work and were only too happy to be part of an important event in my life,” Suchandra said. What pleasantly surprised them was the reaction of their domestic help. “She invited herself to our wedding. She can’t even sign her name but she has no taboo. Our happiness mattered and she even did the ritualistic ‘boron’ for Suchandra when she came home,” Sree said.
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Shifting to Chennai was a professional decision – it turned out to be a blessing. “In Chennai, people are largely non-interfering. But in Kolkata, they used to stare at us,” said Suchandra. The couple recall how a group of men from Sector V had gawked at them when they were out for lunch. “One of them was constantly staring at me. I finally got up and announced that since he is so keen on eyeing me, this will be a better view. Hearing this, he almost wanted to duck under the table for cover,” Sree recalls. On another occasion, the couple had gone for a “romantic walk” at Eco Park. “A group of young boys was staring at me as if I were a monkey. I turned around and said: ‘Fine, you want to see me. Go ahead’.” Yet again, the couple saw an elderly lady nudging her husband to look at her. “But the elderly gentleman just didn’t it. Finally, I went ahead and told him that his wife wanted him to look at me!” Sree said.
In Chennai, the landlord didn’t arch an eyebrow before renting out the flat to them. Sree’s office, too, has no issues with their marriage. Suchandra, who wants to be a cinematographer, travels all over India on work. “I am not an in-your-face-lesbian. I interact with people as a human being. They have also understood that sexuality is not a big deal,” Sree said. Suchandra doesn’t feel the need to shout out her sexual preference. As a parting shot, Suchandra said, “We have been together for five years now. It is as normal or abnormal as heterosexuality.”