A Different Existence
A Different Existence11 mins 16.6K 11 mins 16.6K
"I thank all the dignitaries and all the panel of judges for giving me this award." Natasha said. Tiffany, was the main recipient of this award. However being deaf and dumb, Natasha was her helper and speaking for her.
Tiffany instructed her not to be wrong while explaining. Natasha smiled in reply. “She is instructing me not to be wrong. The last time, she had said 'grow' and I imitated 'crow'. "The huge fleet of audience gathered in the opera laughed out. Natasha continued as Tiffany instructed. “When I came in the ceremony, the judges requested me that they want to hear some things about my life. Well.. It’s a huge story. But not that big that'll eat away all of your 24 hours...” the audience laughed again.
Tiffany then continued in her sign language and Natasha assisted her.
"My name's Tiffany Donalds. Request you people please don't add a duck after that...” The audience laughed again. "My father Jackson or Jacky Donald hated me a lot. You can add a duck after it because my father loved ducks." The audience again chuckled. "Well, it was just that my mom suffered huge seizures while I was in her womb. My father had a good habit of donating money to other people. Well...not in the good way.. but basically he was a drunkard. So donation of money used to happen in 'that' way." As Natasha pointed, Tiffany signalled with a thumb pointing towards her mouth. The audience again laughed.
“My father used to beat my mom almost every day. My mom was a worker in a small watch making factory in our hometown and my father was a mine-worker. At one time mining was a major income source for the entire town. But as other industries grew, mining started getting affected. Due to shortage of basic appliances, slowly the mining industry shut down.” Tiffany paused for a moment, probably thinking about the horrors that came after. “As a result, my father lost his job. Being jobless, he started donating money every day...of course as I said earlier.” The audience laughed again. “His donating habits started increasing, and when he never got anything, my mom was his punching bag.
When I was in her womb, due to continuous physical harassment from my father, I was born premature. My mom couldn’t suffer the pains and gradually, she died. And I was born deaf and dumb because of the consequences of her injuries during pregnancy” Tiffany paused for a while, as also Natasha. Both of them wiped their tears. As Tiffany continued, Natasha laughed. “She thinks there is a shortage of tissues here.” As the audience laughed again, both of them were offered tissue papers. “Basically I was ‘SEE NO EVIL: HEAR NO EVIL’ and if the third part could have been included, I would be 3 monkeys in One.” The audience applauded and gave a huge roar of laughter.
“I was continuously tortured everyday…” Natasha continued as Tiffany instructed, “The reason was simple: my father thought my mom died because of me. Beating, harassing, kicking everything was experimented on me. He had a plus point: I couldn’t shout, only gave out muffled cries. Every night I was subjected to this physical torture. Being a kid, I could do nothing of it. On request of our neighbours, I was then enrolled in a local school. I used to attend the school in the mornings. Our class teacher, Jennifer, was a very good lady. I used to like her lot. She took good care of me. She also taught me sometimes after classes, as I was a bit slow in hearing & understanding. I slowly started having thoughts about her. Once, she saw the swollen marks on my face & enquired about it. Fearing my father, I never said anything.” Tiffany paused for a moment. “However, my teacher found out what I was going through. She decided to sue my father. A legal battle followed and I was finally handed over to my maternal aunt.” Tiffany again stopped when she saw Natasha wiping her tears. She signalled something and Natasha laughed. “She says I had lot of onions for breakfast.” The audience laughed again. “Mr. Donald got a duck.” The audience guffawed as Natasha read Tiffany’s signs.
“My maternal aunt knew everything about me, but she could do nothing as my father had kept her away. She had a small house in the bungalow of a rich man. She worked as a caretaker there. The landlady was very kind to me. She took my responsibility and paid for all of my expenses. My maternal aunt, my class teacher, my aunt’s landlady all of them were kind to me. Slowly I started developing likeness for women. All the women for so soft, so tender towards me. They took good care of me. My class teacher taught me good values. I think I adopted this humour factor from her.” The audience chuckled. “My class teacher Jennifer always taught me to think good and be good to other people, however bad they may feel about you.
Slowly, through all my experiences, I learned that women are nice. Unlike men who always hated me, used me and troubled me. It were those lovely women in my life who happily took care of me. Slowly as years progressed. I came to know that I was different. My sexual orientations were not straight. Since I couldn’t talk, I started expressing my feelings in drawings. I used to draw all that happened to me in drawings and paintings. Drawings started being my solace. I used to draw; I used to keep creating new drawings because that’s how I finally found what relieves me the most.” Tiffany again paused. Natasha comforted her as she looked down.
“I slowly started growing in years, and so was my liking for women. As I reached Junior college, my aunt had grown old. One day, after prolonged illness, she died. Again I was alone in this world. Again to make ends meet, I had to work part time as a helper in a restaurant. Wendy was working there,” Tiffany signalled to her and Wendy smiled. “Well, she was working there as an assistant. One our first day itself, we developed a bonding. Wendy also had a bad past. She was beaten by her brothers and tortured by her parents. The only thing she said was: She likes women.” At this point, Wendy sobbed.
“Our friendships developed….and so was our relationships. I remember I was 19 years old. She was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after together. Every day almost. Sleep I would often share with her. By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling, no choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.” Wendy blushed and so did Tiffany. “We were mentally connected to each other. Love was all over us. We shared the same room together. We attended the college together. But life was not that easy for us...” Wendy again looked at Tiffany, who comforted her and urged her to continue. “We were ridiculed at; we were kept isolated from everyone.
Today we speak of gender and sex equality. But when we were young, our relationship was considered against the law. All the girls in the college bullied us. We had no friends; no one was ready to help us in anything. I remember once at the girl’s hostel, we both were dragged in between .They striped us fully naked and were told to have sex in front of everyone.” Natasha couldn’t continue. She started sobbing. In the audience, Wendy started sobbing too. Tiffany smiled at the audience and came near Natasha and consoled her. Sniffing, Natasha continued to follow Tiffany’s actions.
“In between all of these, I continued to work on my passion. Somewhere, deep inside me, I knew it was my calling and I had to follow it. My paintings were torn off, even stamped upon by foot by those goon girls in our hostel. But honestly I never felt bad for them. Their job was to destroy everything. My job was to rebuild every torn piece together. I use to attend college in the morning with Wendy & attend the helper’s job in the restaurant. Still I took time for my passion. I kept studying and passed with good grades in the college. Owing to my disability, I was entitled for a scholarship from the University for Further Studies. But the university professors were not ready to give it. They said I am a lesbian, and heterosexuals are not allowed for this scholarship.” Natasha paused for a while, looking with despair as to what Tiffany had to face. Tiffany again smiled and said something. Natasha chuckled and said, “She says not to be worried. She has the tissues.” The audience laughed again. “She is saying laughter is the best medicine. You can laugh on my jokes, even on serious jokes.” There was a huge round of laughter in the entire opera.
Natasha then continued on Tiffany’s actions. “Wendy was always a backbone to me in every struggle since my college days. For the scholarship, we fought a legal battle single-handedly. No one was ready to take our case, but we never lost hope. One lady finally helped us looking at our struggle. After months of courtship, we won the battle. The University finally had to grant us the scholarship. I used it to learn paintings.” Tiffany paused again as Wendy told her to continue. “After graduation, we shifted to a small apartment in the city. Wendy was working at that time and was supporting me financially. I focused hard on my passion. I kept learning and developing nicely. In that college, I met Christina ma’am, who knew everything about me but still never kicked me off. She helped me learn new things, taught me all the basics of painting. It seems only good women entered my life and all of them helped me to become who I am today.” Tiffany smiled as the audience applauded.
“I passed out the college and started working part time in the same restaurant. I joined an art academy which was ready to publish my pictures in exchange for some money. Well again Jennifer teacher, my class teacher in school, came for my help. Through her contacts, I requested an art shop owner to display my paintings and sell them. He agreed happily to do so. He sold my paintings to many art lovers who purchased them. I started getting more orders from people. More money started coming in. This then reduced the financial burden on Wendy. One day, Wendy told me that the Art owner wants to export my paintings to other countries, since he had contacts there and those people were ready to accept my paintings. Well, I now got famous internationally…” The audience chuckled clapping lightly. “I put in all my efforts and sketched wonderful paintings. Slowly my paintings started getting recognised internationally. My efforts started counting and finally today, I am bearing the fruits of my past struggles.” The audience responded with a huge applause.
“I know I am here because of the strength and courage and love that I am blessed to receive from Wendy, my class teacher Jennifer and my maternal aunt. I am here because Miss Jennifer taught me that there are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be an artist, I wanted to be a painter, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my sexuality was less typical than others. But I never stopped. I made a decision to myself to show that I am not less than others. You know living a lesbian life without publicly acknowledging it — is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Our society needs to recognise the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay ,lesbian, bisexual and trans gendered citizen of any country .I believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society — and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action & keep inspiring others.” The audience gave a huge round of applause.
“I’m really excited to be here, and I’m really proud to have been a lesbian all my life. The fact is, I’m a lesbian, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud. I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.
I wanna say also it feels good to be chosen but there was a time in my life that I was not chosen. I was the opposite of chosen because I was different, and I think I wanna make sure that everyone knows that what makes you different right now, makes you stand out later in life. So you should be proud of being different, proud of who you are. The most important thing I wanna say is just really embrace who you are because being unique is very, very important and fitting in is not all that matters. It's being unique and being who you are. With that, I end my short life story here. Thank you.” As Natasha and Tiffany stopped, the entire Opera stood up an gave a standing ovation to her, including Wendy, Miss Jennifer and Christina ma’am. All the spectators were smiling with tears in their eyes. The audience kept on clapping and the applaud never stopped even when Tiffany occupied her seat next to Wendy’s. The whole opera kept on clapping continuously.
Later in the ceremony, Tiffany, now almost 50 years old, was given the Prestigious Artist’s award. Tiffany requested Wendy to take it for her, as Wendy had always been her backbone in life. The audience again gave a huge round of applause and for the first time in her life, Tiffany cried with a smile on her face.