Nikita, 28, works at an advertising agency. Three years ago, she had her first sexual encounter with a woman. She had slept with men before but had always felt as though "something wasn't right."
"It took me a while to realise what it was that I wanted and it has been a tough journey," she says adding that a woman with an 'abnormal' sexual desire is seen as a deviant. "I have not told my parents as I know they will be devastated. My elder sister is aware of my sexual preference but well, she too, is reluctant to accept it wholeheartedly," Nikita says.
Her lesbianism is like a dirty secret between the two sisters, one that is discussed in hushed tones. "She wants me to get married to a man and have children so that I can 'cure' myself of my 'condition'," says Nikita, who also yearns for a family life, but with a woman. Her search for a steady partner has, so far, come to nought. "Often, it's the gay men who want to have a fling with me," she says. "There are times when I crave for sexual and emotional attention but often I have to suppress my needs."
Pooja, 38, a graphic designer, has a more fulfilling sexual life even though it all began badly. Her boyfriend not only physically abused her but was also sexually self-centred. "It was after two years of a soulless sex life that I first had sex with Mita," she says. Mita, Pooja's colleague, showed her a new world, she says. A world she had ignored because of the social stigma.
"Today, I have sexual partners from both genders, not because I am confused about my sexuality but because I think sex is an expression of passion between two people, and it's not necessary that they have to be of different genders," she says. "I do not talk about it to my friends and family, but yes, my sexual partners are aware of my orientation."
And then there is Jaya,* a professional escort, who helps others play out their sexual fantasies. She says she specialises in kinky sex, in which she is the dominatrix with men behaving as her slaves.
"I find it liberating to overpower men in bed," says Jaya. "Most men who come to me, want to be seduced as they lament that sex with their wives is routine. I sometimes handcuff my sexual partner and the thrill he feels when he wants to touch me but cannot, heightens pleasure. Some men behave like kittens and lie on the bed and want a torrid session. I have begun to enjoy this power game so much that each client is a new experience for me." (*name changed)