Dear D,

Guess what? You are an independent, 19-year-old woman who has made her own path in life. You’ve recently finished your final law exams. I wanted to write to you and share our journey – maybe it will give you some hope when it’s hard to come by.

I know it’s taking some time to figure out who you really are, but you will. And soon, you’ll be able to share that you are a lesbian with your friends. Painfully, the story with your family will be a little different. Right now, they seem more concerned about what other people in the local community will say. They listen when neighbours accuse you of having “unnatural relationships” and say that your family “needs to do more to control you.” But you will not be controlled. The life we have now proves that.

You will fall in love with your brother’s sister-in-law, and you will remain together, overcoming many hardships on your journey. The first of which involved fighting for your love and against your family’s attempts to keep you both apart. Let me tell you: we win.

One evening, you and your partner arrive late at the bus station, where you call your brother for a lift home. You will introduce your partner to your brother in the hope that he will not cause any difficulty at home. You’ll trust him, but you shouldn’t have. As you reach home, he tells our family about your relationship with his sister-in-law. You are forced to share your identity and reveal who your partner really is. You will be courageous. But your family will not accept your decision, leaving you to make the difficult decision to move away. To do this, you need your citizenship certificate; however, your family has this. Your requests to obtain your ID will be denied, and with that, your request to start a new life is also denied. You are left with no other option but to call the police. The police support you. Until your uncle bribes them. Fearing for your life, as well as your partner’s life, you spend a night in jail just to avoid any violence from your family. You stay up together all night. Despite her objections, you sent your partner away for her own safety. This is difficult to hear, but better days will come.

When you get home, you will hear your family discussing your marriage to someone else. You are angered. You are beaten down by your family for expressing yourself. Your brother confiscates your phone and sends verbally abusive messages to your partner. When you finally retrieve your phone, you message her. Your partner reassures you that she will never leave. You talk to her every night thereafter, and you learn more about her. She was forced to hide her identity. She is forced into a relationship with a man to help conceal her truth. But this does not change how you will feel about her.

In time, you find out that your family is planning to kill you. They are planning to blame your partner. What can you do? You are forced to run away and stay with a trans friend, but they are unable to help.

When one door shuts, another opens. Your friend connects you to an LGBTIQ+ organization in Kathmandu that provides you with shelter. We are safe.

Later, you will reunite with your partner after she leaves her abusive boyfriend. You will move in together and start a new life – together. You work hard and fund your own education. Your family call you, and you pick up. But kind words turn to abusive taunts. They will claim to be there for you, but after past experiences, we do not trust our family. But now, through all the hardships and navigating life, we are free and safe.