The once droopy eyes now beam with pride. Their heart-rending pleas have given way to hearty laughter. They are no longer apart, but holding hands.
This is about the memorable get-together of Kerala's lesbian couple, not one, but a pair of them: Adhila-Noora and Afeefa-Sumayya.
Adhila and Noora, who were reunited last year following the intervention of the High Court of Kerala, have shared a series of heart-warming photographs of their meeting with Afeefa and Sumayya, another young Malayali pair that suffered a similar plight before eventually finding success.
The photographs, shared by Adhila and Noora on their Instagram handles, show the women, sitting next to their partners, forming a huddle of comradeship and oozing confidence.
But there is still some residue of trauma, especially in the eyes of Afeefa, who was forced to undergo conversion therapy by her relatives.
“Despite the hardships, they fought relentlessly for each other and now stand united. They have found happiness in their love, yet traces of fear still linger in their eyes, a reminder of the traumatic experiences inflicted upon them by their parents, siblings, and relatives,” Adhila-Noora posted.
'A revolution indeed'
For Vanaja Collective, an NGO that works for LGBTQ members and the marginalised, the get-together was a triumph of perseverance. The Collective had supported both pairs through their most difficult period, by offering shelter, support and legal assistance.
“A revolution indeed,” Vanaja Collective wrote on Instagram. Its Secretary Gargi Harithakam said they couldn't be more proud. “We hope this inspires more couples and individuals to come out with pride,” Gargi said.
The NGO founded one-and-a-half years ago has eight active members, including two men, one of whom is a gay man.
'Love is not a sin'
“In the face of adversity, these brave women have discovered that love knows no bounds and that authenticity should never be compromised. They have chosen to embrace their love and stand proudly against a society that would seek to dictate their lives,” Adhila-Noora posted.
The women have declared that 'love is not a sin, but a beautiful and natural expression of the human heart'.
The trailblazers, Adhila and Noora, have wished well for their sisters: “Their happiness should never be overshadowed by the expectations of parents, relatives, or societal norms. Instead, let them build a future together, free from the haunting echoes of the past."