Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 41, Dated Oct 18, 2008
in falling in love with people, not body parts. I am gender oblivious’
Amruta Patil, author of the graphic novel Kari, on the benefits
of the wide-angle view outsiders can bring to a cramped space
WHEN KARI MADE HER gawky debut in
February 2008 — there was no immediate
attempt to ensnare her in a butterfly
net. Happy thing. Reviews went on to talk
about the use of tropes, the emergence of
what may someday be an Indian graphic
novel ‘scene’. People were divided about
whether such rampant wordiness could
pass itself off as a ‘graphic novel’. Kari’s
undeniable queerness was discussed, but
never pulled out of context.
I could not have asked for a more balanced
reception. Kari escaped being
bonsai-d by label, and went on to find her
people — it didn’t matter if they were
lesbian, bisexual, asexual. The response
to my own person has been a little different.
To write a tale, it seems, is not
enough. One needs to neatly classify
one’s own sexual politics. If one believes
in falling in love with people (as opposed
to body parts), then I identify as genderoblivious.
It irks some people, but I like it
this way — unapologetic, but unlabeled.
As we stand on the brink of the ‘mainstreaming’
of alternate sexualities, I hope
we always guard against clubbishness
and the either / or trap. No matter how
legit a label, its job is still to keep things
separate and apart. Not all outsiders bite,
some actually bring a wide-angle lens to
a cramped space. There is something
fragile and infinitely precious about
being ‘the other’ in a roomful of homogeneous
people. Any kind of other. I hope
we always make room for the odd fish.