“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
~ Dalai Lama
1998 was the year when me and entire family left Abu Dhabi for good & shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai) to start our new chapter all over again. I was only 7-years-old when this transition had taken place and hell yeah, it was a change that took time to settle down. I’d lived a different lifestyle which was starkly different to Mumbai and though I’d been to this city before for short trips, I was still unfamiliar with the sudden change of air, it was indeed a culture shock for me. I lived in a suburban called Mira Road (infamous for crucial water crisis) for nine years until 2007 when we again shifted to far more organized Navi Mumbai.
I recall a day that remains the most astonishing yet heartwarming experience of my life. Me and elder brother (He was around 11 back then) were at home alone in the afternoon and mom went out to purchase some grocery with our friendly neighbor (we were steadily getting used to mechanical life of Mumbai). My school life was irksome to say the least and since it was a holiday, we both were having fun watching old Cartoon Network channel that used to air some amazing cartoon series and “TING”, door bell rang. My brother opened the door only to find two transgenders (Hijra, in Indian dialect) on the other side of our safety door.
Now, we did had some idea about who they were but unfortunately, their stories of stealing children from parents, upon arriving to the city, used to be the talk of the town, as a result they were the most dreaded. Like any normal child, who are usually advised by elders not to open doors to strangers when responsible adults are absent, we too made sure to communicate without opening the door. One of the maushis (I referred them as maushi out of respect) asked about our parents to which my brother candidly responded that no one is at home, so for time being they can leave and come back later.
Don’t know what striked us that moment but we actually felt bad. Me and brother sensed they were exhausted. We all know they are vagabond who keep traveling across the city from buildings to building, flat to flat to fetch some decent money to afford two basic square meals since they are not employed due to severe discrimination. That day, we didn’t let any sort of prejudices or fear story control our mind and my brother suggested whether should we let them in? I, without any hesitation, said YES and we took the risk. We opened the door and let them in much to their surprise. We urged them to sit on the sofa and feel comfortable meanwhile I run to kitchen to get two glasses of water and munching to eat so that they could fill their stomach and quench their thirst. Initially they refuse (I guess they were never invited like this by strangers or must’ve smelled foul play) but with our constant persistence, they agreed and gave in.
Frankly speaking, we did find their appearance a bit odd, however what mattered was they were nicely having their snacks & this sight calmed us and brought a peace within. Everything was going hunky dory until mom reached home and all hell broke lose. NO, she didn’t turn into Nirupa Roy or got hysterical like a typical Balaji Soap Bahu. She became Revathi of “Nishabd”, completely shocked yet understated. How can she be blamed? ever since we had shifted there, she was only told about maushi’s child-kidnapping stories without verification, so for her to see them at home with us was scary. Our neighbor rushed to our home, gave them some money and requested to leave the place as soon as possible.
They didn’t feel bad because, I hate to say this, they were used to such rebukes. While leaving, I saw tears in their eyes, happy tears, Maushis placed their hands on our head and blessed us saying that we both will grow up to be a good human being and will make our parents proud with our achievement and they left to never come back again.
Many of you reading this will say me and my brother were really brave. I beg to differ with respect, I don’t think it was any act of bravery. For us, we saw a human being in them. We felt they needed help so we offered our assistance, they accepted it. That’s all. I agree, situation could’ve turned dangerous had they not been the good ones and actually might’ve attacked us or even killed us but who think about safety measures in such helping time?
I am less familiar with transgender history and pretty sure you all are (We must be educated to understand them better). We all have a long way to go in completely accepting them and including them in the mainstream. But all I want to convey is, discrimination will only push marginalized to get more marginalized. There are people who’d a hard time dealing with Maushis, many of whom, have been abusive on not getting their demands meet & I empathize with their transphobia but compartmentalization will not work at all, it will only reinforce stereotyping which is not a good sign of a healthy society. Time we keep aside our classiness, high standards aside, and see them through a humanistic perspective and compassionate lens. Is it that tough?
“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness.”
― Drew Barrymore