Thump…thump. I could hear my heartbeats. I wiped the sweat from my forehead with my dupatta. Soon I was going to speak in front of 500 people. I looked at the paper in my hand, but did I really need to? I closed my eyes, and there the little Suresh was!
Four-year-old Suresh was all alone and weeping in the closed room! His aunt’s marriage ceremony was going on outside. He could hear the voices of children playing, but *Amma said that he could not because the guests would ask questions. Little Suresh was not able to understand, “Why they would ask questions? Why?”
I could feel the bewilderment of the little child. I opened my eyes, wiped my sweaty face, and adjusted the AC to 20°C. I looked at the paper and seven-year-old Suresh was here again!
Suresh was standing in front of the boys’ toilet. Amma had told him not to use the school toilet and to never remove his underwear in front of others, but Raju would remove his underwear and pee! Suresh wondered, “Why was he different than me? Why?”
It was Suresh’s tenth birthday. He overheard his *Baba telling his mother, “You have given birth to a burden. I am waiting for the day when we will be free of this burden.”
“What did I do? Why am I a burden? Why?” Suresh was confused.
A knock on the door brought me back to the present.
“Ma’am, do you want anything?”, a volunteer asked.
“Please give me some water”, I said.
Adolescent Suresh was bleeding and writhing in pain. His seniors always teased him for being soft and delicate but today two of them took his side and confronted others. Later, they invited him for a treat and gave him this unrecognized pain! Not only was his body hurt, but also his soul hurt by this betrayal.
“Why was that?” Suresh had no answer.
“Why are there blood stains on your pant?”, his Baba asked.
“Baba…it’s paining…” Suresh cried and narrated what had happened.
“Shut your mouth, never tell anyone about this, it’s all your fault!”, Baba said angrily.
“How is it my fault? Why?” Suresh had many answerless questions.
Again there was a knock on the door. The volunteer had brought water.
“Ma’am, you will be on stage in 15-20 minutes.”, she said politely.
I nodded. I finished half the water in a gulp and glanced at the paper. My eyes fixated on the word ‘realization’.
Seventeen-year-old Suresh was on the street – hungry and crying. He was thrown out of the house because his pant again had blood stains, he had again been bullied by his seniors and he was crying again. Baba said that he would keep bringing shame to the family if he stayed with them.
He was sleeping on a park bench when a man approached him.
“What happened? Where is your home?”
“I don’t have a home.”
“You can come to my home, the man offered.
The man took Suresh to his home.
“My name is Prasanna, what’s your name?”, he asked while offering Suresh some stale bread.
“I’m Suresh. My mother died a few years ago and my father doesn’t want me in the house.”, Suresh replied before stuffing his mouth with the bread.
The cold floor of the reeking room was better than the warmth of the man’s clammy body. Suresh cried silently again because of the familiar pain.
Next morning Prasanna said, “You know, we are different, people don’t like us. Parents don’t want us. Every day we have to fight to survive. Come with me, Guruji will guide you.”
Guruji examined Suresh’s naked body.
“Prasanna, see the swelling in the chest area, I can say this will develop further. If this button is removed, he can become the most desirable one.”, Guruji said while touching between his legs.
“My dear, you can stay here. I’m like your mother.”, Guruji tried to calm down the shivering Suresh.
That night, Suresh knew how he was different from others. He got answers to his questions. Guruji explained everything and how it would benefit him to get that button removed.
The button removal was performed at night. Suresh was on the bed, his hands were tied. Guruji’s assistants were holding his legs.
“It will only take a minute. Open your mouth, dear.”, Guruji ordered.
Suresh’s mouth was stuffed with a piece of cloth.
…sharp pain…hot blood…blurred vision…and the button was removed.
Guruji put some ointment and dressed the wound.
“Now take rest, we will be back in the morning.”
He heard Guruji tell his assistants, “Check in the morning, if he is alive then okay. Otherwise, make arrangements to dispose of the body.”
I shivered. I touched between my legs. I looked at my ample bosoms. Guruji was right.
“Sapana ma’am, you are next.”, the volunteer informed.
After some time, on the stage
‘…I was abused, I was raped, I was denied a job, I was denied entry in women’s toilets, I was hated for being who I was. There was no option but sex work for survival. The 35 year-long journey from Suresh to Sapana wasn’t easy. I am thankful to the organizers because of whom I can tell my story. If society calls me ‘transwoman’, ‘eunuch’ or ‘*hijra’, I don’t care as today I can proudly say that I have found my identity – I am a woman, a woman without a vagina, a woman without a uterus! The purpose of this story is to say that we are human too. We don’t need sympathy; we need social acceptance and inclusion. Thank you.’
The applause of the crowd was still echoing in my ears when I went back to the NGO where I worked.
*Baba – Father
*Amma – Mother
*Hijra – Hindi word for eunuch
This story is based on the real-life incident of a person, whom the author has met. The author has taken creative liberty to give a background to the story and has taken help from the following Google links.
This is an entry for UniK-4, a 1000-word writing event at ArtoonsInn.
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