While we celebrate love all around, it's integral not to look away from the love that's equally significant, life-altering and inspiring in more ways than one. A story for ages, we bring to you a Bengaluru-based couple Mayank Kalra and Sougata Basu, who surpass social norms and redefine notions of what a family entails. Mayank and Sougata often face sporadic cases of raised eyebrows here and there but the overall love and support they have received from not just their families and friends but also the public keep them going.
The duo met in 2012 and there was something about the comfort they shared on chat that made them want to keep in touch. After Mayank returned from his hometown, Sougata offered to stay with him as his office moved closer to his home. They grew closer with time and their connection got stronger. It wasn't long before they eventually fell in love and planned for a future together. The couple is now blessed with adorable babies and they're living life on their own terms with the love and support of their loved ones.
In conversation with SheThePeople, Mayank and Sougata discuss their relationship, the challenges they face, their decision to become parents, and what makes their family complete.
Mayank And Sougata - a family based on love
Coming out to families
While their parents took some time to come to terms with their reality, their coming around was all worth it in the end, recalls the couple. "It had been a few years since we were living together and both our families knew we were close. However, we officially came out to our respective sisters five years back and they were super accepting. We came out to our parents a year later and, while they took some time to understand everything, they came around because of their love for us."
Extending their family
Mayank and Sougata always wanted to be fathers but were unsure of when would be the right time. During the pandemic, one of their friends was contemplating a baby through surrogacy when they realised they must opt for surrogacy and bring home a baby of their own. "Our friends pushed us saying that if we really wanted to have babies then this was the time as surrogacy laws were looking to change. That's when we decided and our families thoroughly supported our decision."
">Parenthood for the couple has been both challenging and equally rewarding. From when they welcomed their children to now, what has impacted them most importantly as fathers is their growth as a couple. They add, "Life has changed a lot. We have become more patient, and more responsible. We think about our babies first before taking any decision. It has been a huge stability factor in our lives. Also, on personal fronts, it has brought the two of us even closer and cemented our bond more than before. We are in a sorted mind space today."
"We are living a life which we always wanted but never dreamt could have been possible. This has made us more full of gratitude, more giving and more loving. And, we are always trying to give these positivities to the universe."
Mayank And Sougata on their wedding day (left) | The couple with their babies (right).
Every family is complete, irrespective of who, or which gender, forms it
While we’re still far along as a country collectively into accepting these dynamics, the kind of love we’re seeing around us makes us hopeful. How has their experience been in dealing with social norms as a family?
We have been blessed so far in that sense. We have the strong support of our parents, immediate families and also our close bunch of friends (who are also like our chosen family today). While there are sporadic cases of raised eyebrows here and there but on an overall level we have received a lot of love and support. Through you, we continue to urge and request that society be accepting and loving to every family unit which is based on love and radiates love. With so much of problems the world over if we can acknowledge the love of all kinds and make small changes in us to accept that, the world will be so much more beautiful.
"Everyone's coming out journey is different, and whatever happens, no matter what, it’s love that wins in the end"
The duo is an impeccable example of how love shatters not just norms but also deep-rooted structures of society. When asked what they'd like to say to the readers, they said, "We will want to say a few things - everyone’s coming out and life journeys are different but when you are coming out to your parents and family be patient with them. Give them time and support. If it’s coming to our journey for us then it’s an acceptance journey for them. However, do not succumb to any mental or physical abuse in the process. At a time where the country's judicial structures are still not giving the queer community the rights they deserve, we urge society and request the government to allow same-sex couples equal rights of marriage, and acknowledge and respect our families."
Suggested reading: Madhuri Dixit, Anand Tiwari On Normalising Conversation Around LGBTQIA+