Editor’s Note: In recent weeks the case of Pinki Pramanik has exposed our confusion about gender and sex, sexuality and the act of sex. It also turned into an orgy of salacious curiosity with leaked MMSes and endless speculation about Pramanik’s sex and sex life. Much of the confusion stems from our ignorance of anything outside the usual binary of man and woman. In the new anthology, Close, Too Close – The Tranquebar Book of Queer Erotica, editors Meenu and Shruti collect stories from across the sexuality spectrum that reveal the many ways in which the erotic can be expressed. In an excerpt from the story I Hate Wet Tissues, gender activist Satya, the founded of Sampoorna, a network of Trans Indians tells the story of an erotically charged encounter between two Transmen. The entire story appears in Close, Too Close – The Tranquebar Book of Queer Erotica from Tranquebar Press. Reader discretion is advised.
Darkness did it.
Or did it?
He and I are walking the scorching streets, looking for a place to have chilled beer. This town sleeps in the afternoon but we are looking for even a tiny shack. Feeling like brothers, out in the world, knowing where we are going. Not a word between us. Pounding the streets. Feeling one.
He is big. Broad shouldered. Large hands. Inside his cargo pants. Shuffling his pack of wet tissues. He’d make a beautiful Transman when he gets on T and removes those breasts. Having removed mine twelve years ago, and nurtured a thick beard over fifteen, qualified me.
I know him the minute I see him. We hug. His arms enclose my torso fully, but he keeps his chest to himself. The palm of my hand knows the binder he is wearing under those layers of clothing and we let the moment pass quickly. He says this is impossible to do in Lahore what you have done in Delhi. How did you?
How did I?
The 8x6 room is not enough. He puts his olive green bag down in the corner. It’s going to be beer.
He and I are walking the scorching streets, looking for a place to have chilled beer. His black polished military boots make a deeply satisfying bodily sound; my Bata chappals feel so limp.
In the dark, seven-table shed, men are drinking. The shed is silent with the sounds of drinking. Sounds of small glasses on old wooden tables. Sounds of meat bones falling on aluminium plates. Lungis over knees, legs apart under tables, deep dark brown skin, moulding shoulder bones and chest muscles, glistening hard in the heat. The smell of sweat, nestled in body hair. And then mixed in, the smell of meat. The alcohol wetting the lips. And moustaches. Of men and transmen. Alike.
There is enough between us now. The 8x6 enclosure can prevent only that much from happening. We sit side by side on the 6x2 bed. And into the afternoon I tell him how I did it. He looks upon me as if looking upon his father. How many sons we give birth to in the anonymity of 8x6 rooms . . . But he wants to witness with his own eyes. The chest hair sprouting from the scars of my mastectomy. The meatiness of the constructed penis. The bloodiness and spread of the glans. But unzipping my trousers is not as easy as unbuttoning my shirt. There is another coming out that I know will seal this connect forever. I am brave again. I tell him that my father is from Karor Laalison in Pakistan. And that my mother’s father is from Lahore. And her mother from Jalarpur Jatta. I look into his eyes. He should have worn some kajal in them. He runs his fingers playfully through my hair and says we should do Karor Laalison together someday.
Will you stay?
He snuffles into a wet tissue.
Rules of engagement: I am not allowed to open his shirt or take his pants down. Yes, I can kiss him. On his face but not his lips. Between desire and the risk to his self, we agree that I can rub him on his packer without touching him directly. The rest can flow. And we can call stop when we want to.
Spooning is a good place to start. He presses his ass onto my crotch and the movement rises through my spine and lands my lips on the back of his neck. The wetness turns him around and he breathes into my chest. Where should I hold him? I remember what it was for me. When you are not your nude body. When your nude body is not your desire. And when the impossibility of this desire, to inhabit and act through this body, can lead you to a bottle of sleeping pills.
Who is more qualified to protect him than I? Against my own desire to suckle his breasts, as breasts . . . enter his vagina, as vagina . . . to tear open his shirt and the layers of clothing under . . . to turn him around and onto his knees . . . to enter his mouth against the thrusts of my own grasp of his face . . . to pin him, take him and go, go, go . . .
If the shame of these thoughts was not visible to him, it was only because I lay naked, exhausted, nestled near the bound chest of a fully-clothed man. He made a very satisfying lover and it’s true that the hold of large hands can be very substantial. Was that a look of love? The look of being somewhere else . . . was he seeing with his naked eyes the possibility of becoming a man . . . could there have been a more honest way to tell him how this man had become a man . . .
He dresses my feet with his boots and comes up my naked body in swirling strokes of his tongue . . . how strange; these boots make me stand on my legs again, and fill me with a desire that I have never known in Bata chappals . . . but the turn to ride is his now and he wants to show me something new. It happens again and again, rhythms multiply, play begins and ends and brotherhood deepens.
He says he can’t take my sweat anymore.
Cold water on all this love is not our idea of an ending. I ask him to wipe me with his pack of wet tissues.
He says this is impossible to do in Lahore what you have done in Delhi.
How did you?
How did I?