“Good evening Ladies and gentlemen. Please put your hands together and welcome -Oliver .”
The crowd began to cheer and clap.
Oliver was a well-known fashion designer. His work was appreciated and he had created a brand image for himself. In a short period, he had gained name, fame and money.
Dressed in a bright coloured semi-casual ensemble, Oliver looked very dapper.
Oliver had stepped onto the dais and waved at the crowd. He had picked up the mic –
” Hello everybody Thank you all for being a part of this evening here today with me.
I feel so humbled to have each one of your support. ”
The audience had further shown their approval by cheering loudly.
It was a book launch event. Oliver had penned down his story -his journey, his experiences. He wanted to share it with everyone. Voice it out. Tell the community that -individuals like him are like any other normal human beings who have feelings as well and they deserve love and to be loved.
Someone from the crowd had requested Oliver to speak a few words about himself and his book and he was delighted to share. He began-
” I was born in a small town. We were a family of four – my parents, my elder brother Joe and myself.
I don’t know when this exactly had happened to me. But from where my memories go back, I must have been around eight years.
Guys of my age were interested in playing with bikes, cars but I had shown an affinity for playing with dolls. I had loved applying make up- lipstick, nail polish. It had fascinated me. I had the interest to try different colours and shades.
My father had felt humiliated at his workplace. Every day when he would come home after his work, there would be fights and arguments and the reason behind it was obviously- ‘me’.
My brother too had an issue. He would feel ashamed to take me along with him. Once at a party, I still remember he had introduced me to his friends as his neighbour.
My father and brother had stopped talking to me. My mother had tried her best to make me understand that the things that I am doing, are not what boys do.
Be it liking for my toys, or the kind of clothes I had preferred or my interests -everything.
I knew what she was going through but I felt helpless and I could not do anything about it because I was not the person who they had thought to be and I could not change it.
One day my father had come home early from work. Joe and I were studying in our room.
We had heard loud voices coming from outside. We knew that my parents were fighting. Both of us tried to hear what was going on. This time the fight was a little of a different sort.
My father could not take the humiliation anymore. He had asked my mom to tell me to change my behaviour or he would leave the house. My mom had argued hard. For the first time she had spoken openly about it and it was in my favour.
My father had started walking towards our room. We had quickly gone back to our seats and acted like we were studying. He had opened the door and asked Joe to pack his bags. I could not understand what was going on.
My mother was crying. She had requested my father not to leave the house. But my dad did not pay any heed. He had just walked out with Joe.
I had asked my mom – why she did not abandon me. My mother did not know what to answer. She had tears rolling. She just hugged me and said that she loved me and she is not going anywhere without me.
After that day, my father and Joe had never visited us. We never heard from them. It was like they had cut us off. My mom had lived in the hope that he might return home someday. My mother had finally come to terms with my effeminate personality.
I had no friends. I had completed my schooling and wanted to pursue a degree in fashion designing.
I was afraid that if I would go to college, I might be mocked/looked down at and hence I had decided that I would take up an online course/distance education. That way nobody could know about my identity.
Unlike today, back then in the gender column- there were only two options- Male / Female. I did not know what to do. Nor could I leave it blank.
I did exceptionally good in the course. The assignments, the projects were all appreciated. But when I had finished my studies and wanted to take up a job, people had qualms about recruiting me irrespective of my good work and sound knowledge.
One day, when I had walked out after being rejected in an interview – I had sat in the lobby not knowing what to do. My eyes were moist. I had sat there for almost an hour. I was thinking what am I going to tell my mother. She had been like a pillar to me. My support system. As I was lost in these thoughts, a lady had walked up to me and enquired as to what had happened ( Oliver looked at Victoria who was sitting in the front row and winked at her ). She had noticed me sitting there grieving for the past one hour. I had explained my situation to her. She then looked at my work and had agreed to offer me a job. I was so overwhelmed. Nobody apart from my mother had been so kind to me. I had later learnt that she was the managing director of the company.
Initially, people were a little hesitant to talk to me but later my work had done all the talking. I had made friends. People had started talking to me. Inviting me to parties. But all of this was only restricted to my work level. Outside my work, I had no friends. I slowly had begun to climb up the ladder at my workplace. Joined as an intern, I became the head of fashion. Our first fashion magazine was launched- “LILAC”. It is a big success. Thank you all for the success of LILAC.
I had heard about Pride Parade on the radio. I then had told my mother about it. My mother had encouraged me that I should visit. I recollect how my mom helped me get ready and also paint the flag on my cheeks with those vibrant colours. I was apprehensive in the beginning but later on, it had made me feel nice to see so many people gathered together supporting and encouraging each other. I was overjoyed after looking at the crowd. I met many people from different streams and learnt about their journey too. It was there I met my soul mate – Richard. It was on the very same day I met him. Right Richard?? ( Oliver looked at Richard who was seated beside his mother and smiled). That is the reason I had decided that I would launch my book – BORN TO SPARKLE today. “
Oliver had paused for a while. The crowd was waiting to hear more from him. There was silence. He had glanced at the crowd and began talking again-
” Well, I think I have spoken a lot. To know more you will have to buy my book. ”
The crowd had started laughing.
” It not only talks about my journey but also how I overcame the obstacles. The hardships I had been through and made me the person I am today. I hope it will be an inspiration for many people like me.
Plus, there is a bonus – there are also some fashion tips and guidelines that come along with the book. It’s a complimentary magazine. ” Oliver winked at the crowd. Crowd laughing.
” Lastly I would take this opportunity to thank my mother – without whom this journey would not have been possible.
Victoria- thank you for seeing the potential in me. I owe this to you.
Oliver kisses Victoria in the air. Victoria kisses back.
Richard- I love you. Thank you for believing in me. “
” Love you too Oliver” – Richard had whispered.
“Finally to all those lovely people who have gathered here today. Please read the book. First, a hundred copies are personally signed by me. Go grab it.
Have a wonderful evening everyone and remember one thing- Believe in yourself. Trust me you are worth it. ”
The crowd had started to cheer louder. There were all smiling.
Oliver then had handed over the mic to the emcee. The emcee then thanked Oliver for his speech-
” Thank you, Oliver. Your speech was so touching and I am sure it is an inspiration to many people out there. Congratulations “.
Oliver had got off the dais and had started walking towards his mother, Richard and Victoria who were all seated together. He was suddenly approached by two men.
” Hi Son, we heard everything that you said. We are so proud of you and extremely sorry for not being supportive and understanding.
Hi brother, happy for you man. Congratulations.”
Oliver had looked at his mother. His mother did not know to whom Oliver was talking. He had waved at her and asked her to come by.
She was surprised to see her husband and son after many years.
” This is your father Oliver. ”
She looked at Joe and hugged him.
” What do you want father? Why are you here? ”
” Oliver, is that the way you talk to your father? You are meeting him after many years. ”
” Exactly Mom. I am meeting him after these many years. Where were they when we needed them the most? Today we have fame, money and I guess that is the reason they are here. Else do you think they would have looked for us? I don’t think so.”
” But …”
” No Mom. No. I haven’t forgotten anything. ”
” Please forgive them, Oliver. You have such a good heart. I am sure you will forgive them .”
” Forgive ?? Mom ….do you even know what you are talking about? Have you forgiven your husband after what he has done to you ?”
Oliver’s mom had stood still and speechless.
” Okay, Mom. If that makes you happy, fine. I forgive them. But it’s hard for me to forget how we both had been treated by them.
I am not going to duress you. It’s up to you. You want to go with them, you are most welcome. You have every right to be with your husband.
But for me – I am sorry. I can’t do this. They have no place in my life.
I shall wait for you near the car for the next 10 minutes. In case you want to come with me, I will happy.
But if you want to go with them, I will still be happy for you mom.
Remember whatever you decide- I love you. I will always love you. We will be in touch. Bye, Mom. ”
Oliver had walked towards Richard and they both walked out towards the car. Oliver had narrated to Richard what had happened.
” Oliver, my love. Don’t be sad. Please. I have your back.”
” I know Richard. I know. After all these years, how suddenly they pitch in and act like nothing had happened.
If mom decides to stay with him, I hope he keeps her happy. Else I will not spare that man. I know how she had been waiting for him in the initial years when he had left us .”
Oliver had looked at his watch. It was more than ten minutes. He had a strong feeling that his mom would come back to him.
When he had realised that it was almost forty-five minutes-
” Oliver, do you still want to wait? I am fine with it. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
” No Richard. Let’s go. Will you drive please ?”
” Yes sure. Give me the keys .”
Oliver and Richard sat in the car. Richard had started the car and they were about to move – just then Oliver had heard a knock on his window. He looked around and rolled the windows-
” You are leaving without me Son ?”
There was a broad smile on Oliver’s face.
” Mom.. ”
” Open the damn door, Oliver. ”
Oliver was happy to see his mother. He had opened the door.
His mother then came and sat inside.
” What are we waiting for? Let’s celebrate the launch of your book Oliver. Let us party.. the night has just started…”
All the three roared with laughter and drove away happy.