Growing up in New Delhi, my sister and I did everything together. We shared the same schools, the same games, books, clothes, fights.... We plaited each other’s hair, screamed and scratched each other’s faces, held each other through cramps. I was the older one, so I had to take care of her: clean her up when she got hurt; gently re-pierce her ears every few months when they closed up; hold her hand while crossing the road. We did everything together and the first time we were apart for more than a few days was when I went to the US for college.

When I met my sister again two years later, she'd come to the same tiny college. One day, we walked down the street together and my hand slipped into hers, unthinking, as we crossed a road. One block further, another; we passed a big beefy man with groceries, a group of teenage boys roughhousing, the click-clack of a woman in high heels. She suddenly tugged her hand out of mine, uncomfortable, shamefaced, aware of the stares lingering on us, the carefully blank faces and judging eyes. “They think we’re together. They think we’re like that.”

A year later, I would walk down that street again, this time holding my lover's hand, her long arms making me stoop and nestle into her. We would walk that way many times, laughing, tongue in cheek, foot in mouth, arm in arm, hand in hand. Over the years, I would hold hands with lovers many times: on a frozen bridge above the Chicago River; standing next to a ferry on the Pacific Ocean; back in the chaos of a veg-and-fruit market in Delhi; late at night in an auto, hands held tight to stop lips coming together, the auto driver staring at us in his rear-view mirror. I’d hold hands forming a circle with women singing protests against the ‘honour’ killings of women who married outside their community; with queer friends carrying a pride flag for the first time in Delhi; with a complete stranger, dressed in sequins and gold, who lit his candle from mine at a vigil for the thousands dying with HIV/AIDS and clutched my hand throughout the moment of silence.... But I'd never hold my sister's hand again.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to My Story: Holding Hands.


This is such a touching post....we find and make family where we need. Sometime they are of blood and sometimes wish for you is tha one day soon you get to hold both your lover's and sister's hands at the same time.


In Service and Action Desiree Adaway CEO/President, The Adaway Group

It saddens me that your sister views holding hands with you in only one light and not as a simple gesture of friendship and love. I hope over time she realizes what an gift it is to have someone to hold hands with, no matter who that person is and that we should all hope to have those relationships in our lives. Like Desiree, I hope you get to hold your sister's hand again one day. Janice

To touch and see what it is worth on an emotional level is priceless. I am sorry your sister fears societies judgments, causing her to hide and ignore her affections from someone she truly loves. Though your story made me sad for your sister it made me happy for you, where you have touched so many lives, goals, hearts, and poltical stances with just grasping another's hand.

Time definitely changes our relationships with one another - our comfort levels with certain actions, the significance those actions hold. I'm sure your sister still loves you incessantly, even though your means of expressing that love has changed. I'm also glad you have boldly and compassionately defended gay rights. There is nothing okay about passing judgment because of someone's sexual orientation, and honour killings cannot be condoned. Thank you for sharing!