Far Side of the Moon : The Gaze of Womxn

It always begins with a glance.

How and why someone's gaze on you can make you feel seen — why is "I see you" so powerful and why are some gazes so deep and meaningful to you, is beyond me!

I've always felt seen by womxn — I've also struggled to be seen by them but it's always their gazes that have made me feel the most alive.

How womxn see me determines a lot of my self perception. I've never seen myself as someone who can be seen by "men". And being a lesbian at the very least meant being seen as I was, as I wanted to be and as I would have liked to be seen. Electric, water laden, limpid gazes. Gazes carrying rain bearing clouds, impossible hope and caramel dusks.

As if a deep secret long cherished by me is revealed in the sudden flash of lightning followed by the sound of shattering. Has it always been this terrifying? Yes. The fear of being seen — it's unbearable to know that you can be seen—that there are hands that can open up your heart up like a pomegranate. The hands. The language of gesture— the feel for texture, the can-do-ness of this impossible mad thing surviving like an infant in the world cradled in palms. Fist — the impossible weight of my assertion overwhelming me so much that intimacy is the sudden recognition of similarity, another fist, without ever holding hands or connecting our fingers.

Then the eyes. There are womxn who have eyes that look like they can smell gunpowder. They sniff those out, glance at you for a second longer and you can hear your heart implode inside your chest — the gong of bells and the air inside conchshells, all at once. Eyes almost laced with laughter, and words kohled with hope, their collarbones and fists are sharper than they know words. But they know such words, you start losing it when with they start chasing your most guarded metaphors with alarming ease, and soon words become whispers, meanings become symbols, the lisps become sighs and who knows how to speak the language of sighs?

I am one who likes
(not to know)
And I love womxn.

And so there have been womxn I know who speak a secret language of sighs. A sigh of disappointment hurts more than any word that becomes weapon. While that hmmms and mmmms are slapped like cards on a table during a lazy summer day, the sighs know how to disarm you. When you start visiting the waiting room they inhabit — you learn this language.

There's a sigh when they have the full moon in their eyes, there's one when they refuse to look at you and sigh, and there's that sigh that comes out in lieu of words that have become air, words that won't be spoken, can't be spoken or they cost too much. There's that exasperated sigh when a lover is too much work as if you're lifting a heavy coffin. There's one that is long and comes as a conclusion for long speeches. I've heard dogs sigh — it is the one gesture that makes me believe they really understand your sense of resignation with the world. If you don't speak the language of sighs, do you ever speak that language where words are not enough?

Like that time when you take both their palms in your hands, let out a long breath because you need the courage of a confession. You learn to wait.

I sigh in secret — my adjectives have been dispersed by sighs like dandelions in spring when from far away I watch them read, let the moment sink in, knowing too well it won't last.

For me lesbian is the dark side of a full moon — all the forms of femininity that do not find acknowledgement or acceptance. That do not find visibility. The other side of madness, another kind of lunacy — in that waiting without sunlight where the seahorses and mermaids have found a seagreen swamp to wallow, wilt, weave and warp.

Debolina Dey teaches literature in Ramjas College, Delhi University, and has published writing in Muse and Cafe Dissensus.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.