One of the suicide notes which was scribbled on a plastic plate.
However, he added, "Men cannot tolerate either in rural or urban areas that women can do without them. There is some sort of bitterness when they see that women can do without them..."
One of the few groups that work closely with the LGBTQ community in rural Gujarat is Vikalp Women's Group. Maya Sharma from the organization pointed out how little has been done, especially for lesbians in rural areas.
Another suicide note which was written under the railing of the riverfront with red lipstick.
However, Maya, who has worked with several queer and transgender couples over the last decade was full of heartening stories from the same rural Gujarat that forced the two women to commit suicide.
Sharma said that she’s aware of couples, even in rural areas, who have been accepted by their family. “There’s a farmer couple, and they live together and has been accepted into their families," she said.
Although rural communities are generally perceived as anti-homosexuality, it is not always the case, noted LGBTQ activist, Harish Iyer. "When I came out to my house help and told her that I was gay, she just said that 'hamare gaon mein bahaut sare hai aise.' It didn't seem to be an issue at all..." he said.
Unfortunately, though there are these exceptions, they are not the norm. While lesbian suicides in urban cities make headlines every year, the main reason for them being familial opposition and reactions of parents, the reports that sometimes come out of the hinterland of India are horrifying tales of attempted honor killings and/or corrective rapes.
Most LGBTQ activists believe that even among homosexuals, lesbians are marginalized. "I personally believe that women even within the LGBT community face discrimination, one because of their gender and second because of their sexuality,” said Harish Iyer.
"Even when we speak about the LGBT community, it is not a monolith. It is not that all of us are all loving and all kind. If there is patriarchy, if there is misogyny in the general world, there is misogyny in the LGBT world as well," he added.
There are very few people who are reaching out to the rural areas and working on queer issues - Maya Sharma
The reports that media do pick up, for example, is the recent suicide of the two women in Gujarat. With sensational headlines like "Lesbian couple commits suicide, throwing baby in the water" which are clickbait at best, they pay no heed to the impact that these headlines might have on popular perception about homosexuality.
Vidya, a member of LGBTQ community from Ahmedabad says, "The moment you say that 'lesbian mother' throws the baby in water, it implies that a lesbian mother is capable of killing her child, a lesbian mother is a bad mother. You cannot put it out there without contextualizing how she must have been forced by the society to take such an extreme step." But, what is more problematic is, she pointed out, despite good intentions, media doesn't know how to report queer news with the sensitivity it requires.
While reporting this particular suicide case, some channels resorted to a re-enactment of lesbian relationship by showing two models canoodling, others took sensual representative images of two women. However, no one bothered to ask the most obvious and simple question: What drove these two women to take such an extreme step?
Police inspector of River Front West, MA Singh told this reporter that she suspected that the families knew about their relationship, which may have been a big reason for several clashes and showdowns in their respective households.
The relatives of both the women did not take back their corpses to their respective hometowns and completed the last rites in Ahmedabad itself, she informed.
Both the families considered this incident to be a public embarrassment and wanted to be done with it as soon as possible. When I called one of the family members in Jalalpur, asking when I should visit him, I was told, "mat aayiye madam, aap ayenge toh gaon wale sab jama ho jayenge, hamari badnami hogi" (Please don't come madam. If you come, the villagers will all gather here, and we will be shamed publically)