• Mathura Hawley


Updated: Aug 2, 2021

“Look at these faggots! Why don’t you go home and f$&@ each other up the a&$, you perverts!” It was so crude that we laughed, involuntarily. "

Om and I boarded the F train at 23rd street after a late birthday party for our friend, Acyuta. It had been a long day and I was exhausted but we had gone anyway. I had felt drawn to a kindred spirit in Acyuta, and I wanted to get to know her better and to honor our new vow to say “Yes” to all good things offered to us. Hot and tired as Bryn sweetly welcomed us to her yoga studio where the party was about to begin, we soon relaxed, chanted Kirtan, ate great food and talked with this loving group of devotees, including Acyuta, with whom I shared my first real conversation. After midnight, there were only a handful of people scattered throughout the car of the F Train. A shy, young Asian boy with a homemade haircut sat directly across from us, sketching in his notebook, his eyes moving nervously, seldom looking up from the page. At the other end, New Yorkers of different colors and ages rode alone or in pairs, on their way home from second shift or their own partying. A caucasian woman in her mid-30s stepped on at 14th street, dressed in a loose fitting blouse and ordinary pants. She was very drunk. The boy moved his coat from where it sat, folded next to him, although he was the only person in his row and it wasn’t necessary. She cast her drunken gaze on him. “Oh, you think because I’m a woman that I need a man to give me a seat? Is that how you treat women in your country, Asia man?” she barked. He flinched. “You hate women!” she seethed. He blushed. ”I am gay…” he said meekly, but she didn’t hear. She walked closer toward the kid, but looked our way. I locked eyes with her to take her attention off the poor boy, then she saw Om’s hand in mine. “Look at these faggots! Why don’t you go home and f$&@ each other up the a&$, you perverts!” It was so crude that we laughed, involuntarily. ”You perverts are not welcome in my society!” she screamed at us. “You think you can be in my society, but we don’t want you.” Then she described, in graphic detail, what she imagined was our offensive sex life to everyone on the train, finally exiting at Gowanus, on to bed to sleep off her booze and rage. We looked over at the Asian boy, who smiled at us, then looked down at his open book. ”Can we see that?” Om asked him, leaning across the aisle. The boy handed over his book. He had sketched the two of us, looking masculine and calm, me with my beard and narrow eyes, Om with his strong cheekbones and dark hair. My heart almost burst for this scared boy who, in the midst of such a hateful attack, had created an image of strength and beauty based on our silent bond. We came to our stop and stood up, and I reached out and held the kid’s hand for a second. He grinned. As we walked our path down the hill, I looked out into the black night above Park Slope. I hoped that the intoxicated, angry woman was home safely and would find some way to fill the empty spaces of her heart. Her words still stung, but I knew her soul was in pain, and so, from that odd, warm spring night, here is the truth of what I choose to remember… The feeling of being kindly welcomed to come into Bryn’s world. The love in the room that was so freely shared by this circle of friends singing their hearts out to God. The moment I finally hugged Acyuta, becoming her friend. And the drawing of us, proud and strong, by that boy with the slight, crooked smile. What a beautiful night.

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