Today I saw a Hijra crying!
I’ve always seen them strong, bold, I’ ve seen them bargaining like hell. I’ve seen them at my shop during Diwali, “Diwali ki bakshish” they call it. When they were gone, Dad said, “This one was the son of a small business-man. His name was Kajal. He ran away from home one day and became a hijra.” But I could hardly guess what could have been the actual story.
I know how they feel… or perhaps not completely. I once watched a documentary on National Geographic about Indian eunuchs and their festivals and lives and the hierarchy among them. I’ve seen them celebrating Navratri. They love culture.
They love. Yeah! Once upon a time, it was a tired evening, I was returning from college in a local bus. Two transgenders boarded the bus too, I saw them waving and sending flying kisses out of the window to two young guys (who were waving back). I don’t know what relation they had, surely something simple and sweet. Something beyond my understanding, but it made me smile.
I had these kothi friends I visited. We used to chat and argue and laugh – all open heartedly. I objected to his lifestyle and he said- “Teri g***d mein kyu khoon araa??” And I laughed with him. I loved that group and also learned from them. I learned tits-bits of the secret lingo used by hijras.
And I started respecting transgenders. They’ve been at the forefront of all queer marches. I saw hijras in the Pune Pride Parade pictures, determined looks on faces. I always believed them to be open hearted. I assumed them to be happy-go-lucky.
But today I saw a hijra crying. Untidy hair, sparkling black saree, standing in the middle of a chowk, firing bad words at some street vendor. Had the vendor cheated her for money? No. Because she started to talk to herself and then she started crying.
I was managing my shop (Papa had gone to some funeral). Like everybody else, I was just staring at the scene. Watching.
Had someone hurt her physically? Had someone cheated her? I didn’t know why she was sitting on the ground between two vehicles on the road side parking, wailing her lungs out. I could feel the throaty cry wrap me and wanted to do something. I didn’t have the guts, or the will.
People on the street looked at her, and went away. A foreign tourist waited beside her for a minute, but lost interest, as she continued to voice her sorrow through a desperate cry. I could feel a pull – a voice inside that said, “She belongs to your community, help her!”
But what if my father returned? I was too chicken. I continued watching.
And she was alone. Alone in the crowd. It didn’t seem she had any company around. Generally they are in groups of their own, aren’t they? Why was she alone? Had her group thrown her out of home? Was that her sorrow? Total isolation?
Two ladies in burqaa stopped by her side, perhaps asking about what had happened. I couldn’t hear anything and they left. What if she was sick? I felt I was being careless about a family member. But I had neither guts nor brains to do anything. What could/should have I done?
Before I could feel any more for her, she was silent and chewing on her tobacco. If she is sick, whose fault is it? Is it the society’s fault again?
When will I see a well employed, happy hijra, respected by society, walking into my shop, not for bakshish, but for some clothing for her actual family members? How long until the utopia??
Again, what am I doing to help achieve it? When she was crying, what could/should have I done? Or am I just bol-bachan? Just watching?