My darling babies,
A while ago we were sitting on the carpet, sorting out laundry, pairing socks, folding t-shirts. The warm winter sun shone through the house, casting a golden glow on everything it touched. It is in mundane moments like these, that the big questions are asked by little voices.
And you, my little girl, asked, "Mama, why does your profile picture on Facebook have an image of 377 with a big red cross over it?" I told you that the government didn't like the way some people wanted to love and I was supporting those people and their right to love who they wanted.
You nodded seriously.
You know Mama is an activist, even if you wouldn't know how to use the very word to describe her. You started young, joining me on solidarity walks and silent marches. In the recent past you've even helped me draw and illustrate posters for a traffic safety campaign after a little child was hit by a speeding car. You've fearlessly stopped cars, walked up to adults and asked them not to talk on the mobile phone while driving. So you know what it is to fight for what is right.
My son, you're older and you dug deeper. "What exactly is the government stopping these people from doing?" I take a deep breath. This is the hour of reckoning. I can either explain this to you so that you internalise the principle of freedom to love or I can make a muddle of it and leave the outside world to influence and pass on its prejudices.
"You know how Mama and Dada loved each other and wanted to get married and your grandparents didn't want them to get married?" Yes, you both nod seriously. You have a right to your history and you've taken this part of it in your stride.
You also know, that there was a time when black people couldn't marry white people. There are still people who don't allow others to marry people from different religions.
You both roll your eyes at this. Even at 6 and 8 you think this is a ridiculous notion. Might stem from having parents from different religions. Well, there are people in the government who believe that if a boy wants to love a boy or a girl and a girl want to get married, it's wrong.
"Boys and girls have to marry the opposite gender, otherwise how will they have babies?" The two of you giggle. Clearly you think your old lady is off her rocker, after having explained the birds and the bees in all honesty to you.
"Not all married people have to have babies," I point out. So many of our friends-aunties and uncles-don't have babies. You don't get married only to have babies. You get married because you love each other and want to be together forever. Besides, the earth is being overrun by human beings and so many species of plants and animals are going extinct. Do we really need to get married just to add to the number of people on earth?
This you understand.
"So why is the government saying no to these people?" You, my son, persist.
"Because the government thinks it is unnatural. It is against the laws of nature. That it is a sin, against God."
And then you, my girl, pipe up, "Is the government, god?"
"No. It's just a bunch of regular people like us," I hasten to correct.
"Oh. So if they're not god, how do they know what God thinks?"
To this, my budding scientist and atheist son, you add, "Anyway, there is no real proof of the existence of god, right, Mama? So they can't use the god argument."
"No, they can't and shouldn't," I agree.
"So then if they're not hurting anyone, if they only want to love each other, not make guns and war, then the government shouldn't interfere, should it?"
I nod, speechless. A child can wrap his mind around the right to love freely, but adults find this hard to accept?
"I'll marry whomever I want to," says my son, rebel without a cause.
"You must," I say. Who you marry and what job you choose, are two decisions Mama and Dada will never make for you. We don't want to.
And truly, we don't. It is too big a responsibility and a burden to bear.
Years from now, this letter will be put to test. You will make decisions that I may not agree with. And maybe one or both of you will end up choosing a partner of the same sex. I hope that day I remember the conversation I had with two pairs of earnest bright eyes. And I hope I will be able to accept your decisions with the grace and dignity they deserve.