Amrutanjan

“There is a jar of pain balm.  It’s called Amrutanjan.  It means ‘divine balm’ and having a balm like quality. It’s marketed in India.  It has a strong mentholated smell and I just like it. Something that reminds me of my home.  And I always remember my grandmother before I left for England saying ‘Have you packed Amrutanjan?  I said oh ‘Yes.’ Because I felt homesick for number of years.  I can still feel homesick but I am more used to it now. But without realising it, these were like touchstones, the smell of it now and again, having it close to hand . . .

There was a lot of expectations about me being a boy in India and that I should be something great for my family . . . Looking back, I could not define it but my whole was built around my attraction to men but I didn’t know how to make it real . . . It was like denying myself a lot,  I wanted to play with dolls, I wanted to cook, I wanted to be nurturing to a man and being looked after by a man . . . I denied myself my own maleness.  I thought I can’t be a man with muscles or somebody who would like to swim and run, and still be with a man and still do all these things so it was only as if it could be in a certain way to be loved or be in love with a man”.

Ram, Indian, male, 62, b.India