My friend Sister Rose (name changed) was waiting with the crowd which thronged the pavements on both sides of a street in Ottawa (I think) waiting to see Nelson Mandela who was visiting Canada. This was soon after his release and so the halo around his head shone luminous and bright.
It was a summer day and so bright and hot (I was surprised when she told me this ‘cos my idea of Canada was that of a country always dull and freezing). The sun was beating down right into her eyes and she looked around for shade, as she was prone to migraine.There was no shade anywhere and she seriously began contemplating going back to her cubicle in the university where she was doing research. Just then she saw a demonstration moving up the street slowly, with a gigantic banner which cast a huge shadow on several rows of people participating in the demonstration. She craned her neck to see what was written on it. It made no sense to her ‘cos it was in French and she hadn’t picked up enough French yet.
Just then she noticed a lady who was shouting out slogans loud, beckon to her and those around her to join the demonstration. Delighted, Sr. Rose jumped out from the side walk and joined the demonstration. Since the slogans were in French she couldn’t follow what was being demanded but she lipsync-ed to the sound of whatever was being shouted. She felt terribly relieved to be away from the sun and travelled some distance with the demonstrators.
Once she regained her sense of well being from walking in the shade of the banner, she began to look around at the sidewalk, smiling at the faces from the university and the convents she recognised. It was then that she noticed that she was attracting a lot of attention. Her friends from the university were pointing out to her and laughing. The malayalee nuns were also laughing, typically covering their mouths. Even to strangers whom she didn’t know, she seemed to be affording a lot of amusement. They were pointing out to her and laughing.
“Possibly nun's dress” she thought. “Guess nuns don’t take to the streets in this part of the world. If only these people knew the role we played in the Vimochana Samaram back home in Kerala”.
Her row had reached a group of young students who were pointing out to her and guffawing and giggling and dissolving into peals of laughter. Sr. Rose was thoroughly confused . Just then a Canadian colleague who was with this group of students shouted out to her, smiling from ear to ear:”Hey, didn’t know you were one of these”.
Curious, Sr. Rose turned to the lady next to her who was yelling out something at the top of her voice.
“What’s this demonstration about?” she asked.
“Oh, you don’t know”, she asked looking surprised.”This is a demonstration for the rights of the lesbians, organised by the local Lesbian Club”.