The dust covered my plain face, emotions hidden, voices unheard, shadowed under the stereotypical judgements, there lies the face of the intruder whom everybody cringes away from. This is the life that I lead. The traffic signal near the showroom is my place of work. Kamala also made a treaty that she would accompany me. She is new to her chosen life with guilt still shafted between her ribs.
The whole day is of continuous honks, lust-filled eyes and many more scowls filled with unruly alienation. I drift from one rider to another, clapping my hands in a peculiar way, signifying that I’m the other kind. Some people ignore me; some others roll down their glasses to give a stare and sceptical smiles, some even mutter a harsh expletive at us. The women doesn’t give an eye contact, they fear my kind. There are good men too, who favour us, giving a share of the change in their pockets to stay away from our persistence.
The time limit we have is of a minute and half, to collect our daily earning and to win our daily bread in one signal and not every rider would sympathise and help us. In this world wreathed with racism, exploitation, bureaucracy, terrorism and discrimination. We fall into the category of the filthy beings whose creation has always been in question over generations. The community of transgenders.
The mid-summer sun is seething over my head. The plait that I have braided seems to reach my waists. My red sari shines in the sun, showcasing a bit of my waxed navel and dab of pink lipstick that makes me appreciate my own beauty.
There is a whiff of polluted air that reaches my nose as the signal turns green. Our kind is forgotten like an unwanted tissue. I smile at Kamala who comes clutching her earning from the signal, it is not a decent amount, but we could buy something. Money speaks- it says “Good-Bye” and “Equality” but it never hurts or denies our existence.
From across the dusty hot street, I recognise a car, an effluent one. It is from Mysore, my hometown. I recognise them. The people who were once my family. I am shattered at their presence in this swarming city of Bangalore. It has been two years since I left them. My father, with his strained eyes and tensed forehead is in an exhausted state of driving, he hasn’t changed much. My lovely mother sat beside him adorned with a few jewels she had, looking like a goddess in a white sari, on the rear seat was my younger sister, Amrutha. A shy girl of nineteen when I left her, she is the only person who knows my secret. She carries a bundle on her lap, I squint my eyes only to be shocked that she is a married woman now, and the bundle was her newborn child.
While comforting her crying child, her anxious eyes meets mine as the car halts in front of me. The signal is red. Her surprised confused eyes look for the familiar traits and features in me. Shock had robbed her off her speech. I gave her a smile of acknowledgement, her eyes turned wet, glazed with the shiny brim of tears. She tried to smile but constrained herself, prudent of my old father’s scrutinizing eyes. She searched for the signs of the place confirming my thoughts of her return.
As the signal gave way to move, my thoughts raced through the time, to a time of my childhood. I was five years old. My parents were happy to have a baby boy and because our financial constraints hadn’t got them a chance to celebrate my first birthday in a pompous way, my fifth year was a huge deal. All the kids from my neighbourhood were invited along with their peers and parents, even a few of my relatives joined in for the occasion. There were sumptuous cakes, candles, celebration and happiness in the air. But I waited for the party to end; little boys were mean and considered me a weakling. I just wanted to hide from them and showed great interest to open my presents that were packed in super attractive wrappers.
After much persuasion of the late night wrap up of the party, my mother made me sit on her laps and opened the gifts, with each gift, I whined with disgust and disappointment painted in my vulnerable tears. All of them were the cars, robots, different kinds of arrows and guns. What was I supposed to do with any of them, I loathed them. I hugged my mother and cried for a Barbie doll that the girl next door had.
Maybe it was such an age to look cute that anything I did or asked for was taken to be cute. My mother even abided to my pleas of getting myself groomed with eyeliners, colourful bindis and frocks that my mom stitched especially for me. Everything was considered to be cute, as my parents didn’t have a girl child, like every other mother, she took her time to dress me like one and I swear I enjoyed every bit of my transformation.
But soon, my habits brought a sense of displeasure in the family and by the time I was ten, my younger sister was four and thus she was the pampered baby girl while I was the older brother who would protect her all her life.
But what they never knew was that, I was never a perfect brother or a perfect son they expected me to be, by the age of thirteen, I knew that I was girl trapped in a male body. I was always hygienic and soft-spoken unlike the rest of the boys who parodied the lanes with their super gear cycles and often teased me as a girl. My family unaware of my inner turmoil took me as way too conservative child, my mother always told that I would end up as a gentle man, she never saw the lady in me.
Every Sunday, when the family planned for an outing, I would stay back home to groom myself. I was nineteen back then, the house was abandoned and like every other lonely days. I decided to wear the comfortable clothes that I was attracted to. I took out a sari from my secret box, draped it around me in a perfect manner, hiding the hairy cleaves of my chest, I tried to look feminine. I had scaled off my skin of fake man and adored the dolled up version of me in the mirror. I played the music that a nineteen year old girl in me wanted to hear to and danced gracefully with all the gestures and expressions. All along, I thought of a handsome boy in my class.
“What are doing? Kidding me?” My younger sister gaped at me with grimace and astonishment written all over her face.
I was caught, red handed. Before I could explain, she knew of my sexual preference and probably this incident led her to join the dots of the various years and various incidents that had caught her in a dilemma of my true form.
At first, she hyperventilated, and shook me to get out of my illusion; she took various sessions to make me understand that it was all in my mind and that I was a boy, her brother. She even blackmailed into telling this to our parents if I don’t change my weird ways. I even promised her to get a counselling. But I never did.
Since then, my sister had a close eye on me, whenever I stared at guys or ignored a girl’s company. She would get me back to the real world and the society norms we live in. She never wanted our parents to know of my real fantasies, she made sure to look after me in the instances where I almost got caught. But as the years passed by, I never could lie to myself. I wasn’t a boy and I didn’t belong to the place where I lived. And I very well knew that my parents would only be ashamed and deeply hurt if they ever knew of me.
Hence that fateful morning, I left home with a letter to my family saying that the worldly pleasures didn’t allure me and hence I would be travelling north to attain salvation and take up saintly ways to lead my life.
After more than two years, I saw them again. Amrutha kept staring at me till the red fiat disappeared in the swarm of tiny cars from my peripheral view.
“Girija…What are you staring at?” Kamala, put her hands in the crook of my elbows.
“That was my family in that car” I broke down in the middle of the road, on the median that separated lanes, dust swarming around me, sticking itself to my teary face.
“Girija, sister, please don’t cry, it is our fate. Our choices force us away from our loved ones” She enveloped me into her warm embrace.
“My name is Gaurav, if anybody, most probably if my sister comes in search for me, send her to the old ruins of the temple behind the street” I whimpered and succumbed to the immeasurable agony brewing in me.
The next morning, I kept waiting dressed beautifully in a blue saree, anxiously waiting for my sister.
“Gaurav? Is that you?” A meek, shivering voice crept behind me
I turned and hugged her, almost suffocating her in my death hug.
“Girija, my name is Girija” I corrected her; she smiled at me and hugged me back.
“Of-course, you are my sister that I never acknowledged” she whispered into my ears.
I was left dumbfounded; my sister had finally accepted me.
“I’m sorry, I never believed you sister. How have you been? Why do you beg ?” Her voice quivered as the bundle in her hands whiffed
“I’m doing well and honey, nobody gives us a job because we are different. By the way, you got married and a child?”
“I want you to bless him with your entire heart sister, this is my son. I named him Gaurav” She smiled adoringly at her son
“Amrutha, what are you doing here?” My father who was waiting for her return, stormed in. I thought you got down to meet a friend.
I faced him, standing tall, not ashamed of my identity. Gaurav and Girija, the two faces of the same coin. But I had decided on who I shall remain. My father stared at me, for a very long time. Emotions breaking out in the form of anger, tears, helplessness and finally betrayal. He cursed me to be a shameless scoundrel and that my birth was a curse. He even snatched away the new born kid from my hands.
“Not even your shadow should grace my family” He seethes of anger and dragged Amrutha away from my vision. It was all too surreal. Although I never expected him to accept me, I never uttered a word in my defence. I was Girija now. I had immense patience and a baggage of tears in me.
Kamala smiled as she hugged me and wiped my tears away, this was my story, and every one of us has a story to tell. Ever transgender would have gone through a series of emotional turmoil and out-casted from our own families. We are orphans with families, but more than that we are humans, we have hunger, sleep, emotions and kindness. We need acceptance and jobs to survive in a dignified manner. Next time, you meet one of us, be generous to talk, maybe we don’t want your help but stay by our side while we fight and pick ourselves up.