City Home – Kavita & Ankita’s, Gurgaon
Home sweet home.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Kavita Arora, 47, is a psychiatrist. Ankita Khanna, 36, is a psychologist. They occasionally share their eight-floor apartment, in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region, with residential complex pigeons or with Zuzu, the neighbour’s dog. Ms Arora’s elderly father, who resides in south Delhi’s Alaknanda, stayed with them during the early uncertain days of the coronavirus pandemic. Ms Khanna’s parents, who live in Dehradun, visit them annually.
Ms Arora and Ms Khanna have been living together for eight years. They first met at work, in the child and adolescent mental health clinic that Ms Arora co-founded with two other mental health professionals. Chatting to this reporter on WhatsApp video from their drawing room, both women vividly recall the fateful morning in January, 2012, when “Ankita, holding on to a cup of tea in her hands, was too jittery to take a single sip from it.”
Though Ms Arora and Ms Khanna share a common passion for Harry Potter novels, there are things that set them apart. The former is fond of Gulzar poems; the latter likes Mary Oliver’s poetry. The former loves salads and sandwiches; the latter has a preference for home-made desi khana. The former is always happy to connect with people; the latter prefers books over people.
“Despite how different we are, the space we have created together feels complete,” declares Ms Arora. While Ms Khanna reveals that “no matter how frazzled I am, Kavita is always steady and calm, and able to see humour and optimism in every situation.”
Then, there are aspects about each other that they have learned to tolerate. Ms Arora has grown resigned to Ms Khanna’s penchant for “phenko, phenko,” or “decluttering” the house. One morning, Ms Arora found her beloved CD player, the one she had bought from her life’s first pay, lying outside, in the trash area, waiting to be picked up by whoever wanted. As for Ms Khanna, she gets exasperated by Ms Arora’s tendency to “never say no to anyone who wants to talk, ask for help, chew her brains, teach a class, etc etc.”
And now, the most delicate question that can be put to any couple—who among them spends more time on mobile phone and social media?
Ms Arora says: “She does!”
Ms Khanna says: “She does!”
Early this month, they, along with another same-sex couple, filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act, stating that the lack of formal acceptance of their union under Indian laws is a violation of their constitutional rights. The next hearing is in January.