Initially, he was terrified to gain parental acceptance for his condition. Questions haunted him all the time- Was something wrong with him? His brothers, would they still accept him as one of them?
He wanted to open up to someone and let it all out. There was no one more apt than his closest friend & confidante Arjun. He understood him, at times even more than himself! Usually they had their long conversations at the small smoking nook where elders and teenagers were oft seen having gold flakes and cold-drinks. Arjun searched newspaper clips and the internet so as to explain Ankur his biological changes. It was one fine day he finally announced him to be a “Transgender” or as more crudely put a “Hijra”.
Ankur was stunned, he didn’t know what to do next? Did he need some kind of a doctor? Finally he thought he could consult his uncle who was a “supposed” Ayurvedic doctor. Uncle Sharma was good to him, but there was something terribly wrong with his treating procedure or so Ankur felt. His evening hours denoted for playing were now spent with him. He had promised a good, under the covers treatment. He often wondered why this doctor never asked for fees? His relation to him could have been the answer to this. However, little did Ankur realize that on the pretext of treatment, his cruel uncle was actually raping him. Young Ankur saw him deriving pleasure as he rubbed his genitals against his. Ankur didn’t know how to react, maybe this was the treatment. Often he returned home in pain, and rushed to wash himself in the washroom.
It was Arjun who had always warned him about uncle Sharma. He helped him muster courage and say a loud NO to the ensuing torture. His uncle’s face was a mask betrayal and anguish when he did this. And all this happened when he was now only about to turn 17.
His brothers finally noticed his “weird” features. He was removed from the school cricket team, since the rest of the boys simply didn’t approve of his company. His own mother gave him a harsh thrashing one day when curious Ankur, under his confused state, wanted to experiment with her make-up and mascara one day finding himself alone in the house. Ankur never understood any of this. Why the hell did he feel a certain kind of attraction towards boys- he could never gauge and found himself embarrassed to feel this way? He didn’t remember a single night when he didn’t cry himself to sleep, wondering why he of all people should be conferred such a fate. The taste of the tears streaming down his face, where not just salty but bitter too.
On his 18 th birthday he decided that this could no longer continue. He had heard flying news that a high court in Bombay, had passed a historic decision regarding the rights of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Tansgender or the LGBT community. That night as he once again sat uncomfortably on the dinner table facing his family, he realized that his former home had become a house with sulking strangers who looked at him with disgust and embarrassment. He then decided to run away from all this, and bid adieu to save his selfish and unsympathetic family from having to face him again. He thought only then he would be free from their cold behavior and would be able to build up the world that was crumbling around him. Suddenly there was a ray of hope. Suddenly there was a reason to be happy.
He left his house and met some people of his own kind. They were all very sympathetic but had weird ways to earn money. He was taught the art to clap dramatically and ask for money, he tried once, tried twice and the third time he knew that this wasn’t his cup of tea. Next, he found himself being dragged into prostitution with promises of high monetary returns. He told the concerned pimp Premlata didi, who had grown to care for him, that he couldn’t do it and bid adieu to all the didis. These people, ostracized and outcast from society and forced into a life of shame, taught Ankur the importance of a safe shelter early in life and the importance of strength of character and will power. Each one had a sorrier story than the other. He tried applying for meager looking and less qualified jobs such as being a watchman or as an assistant in a local ration shop, but everywhere he met cold often dissolute eyes.
Arjun never left his side. Ankur had shifted in with him. Once they visited the nearby mall in an attempt to feel happy and live the little joys of daily life. As they reached the mall’s entrance the guard there stopped them with a stiff stick blocking their entrance. Arjun tried to reason out, said they were just going to roam around and buy few things. The guard said: “You can go but these people can’t (pointing to Ankur)”. But by now Ankur had learnt the art to speak up, so he said: “I am not going to ask for anything inside. Can’t I go?” After minutes of worthless tussle, they were both seated back in an auto heading to Ankur’s PG(flat). Arjun felt guilty for it was his idea. That night Ankur wrote a poem again, poetry was his refuge from the maddening outside world.
You ask me to leave my robe at the gate
the robe of “gayness” which is tied to my fate
you call me queer and put restriction
and all this just because of my different attraction?
That night it rained heavily and Ankur decided to have his favourite ice-cream in the rain outside. Licking his ice-cream happily he looked towards Arjun’s window and saw him looking tenderly at him through the transparent window. Arjun saw a figure on the street he had always wanted to see in his friend, free and careless despite being soaked with water and his pain alike. He went outside and held his friend’s quivering hand. The touch had something to it, and both of them equally felt it.
And so they became one
restrictions, they were none
A night of love, an era of bliss
like art on a tapestry, or a reliving kiss
Conjoined together like body to soul
parting in two and still seaming whole.
Look at the way love manifests itself
love condescending boundaries of the self
That night was the best Ankur had ever had. He felt complete as the moonlight made its way onto them through the window and they lay lost in each other’s gaze made more bright by the starlit sky. He felt positive about himself, maybe love was the solution to his problems. In this very moment he thanked God for his existence, his problems that made him and his solution that lie before him. He slept like a baby that day and after many days he didn’t have to cry himself to sleep.
The next day when he woke up, Arjun was still sleeping by his side. He rose to make some tea and picked up the newspaper. The early morning edition of “The Hindu” lay there shamelessly facing downwards. He picked it up and turned it to see the headline:
“Section 377 to stay, SC illegalizes the Gay”
After a night that had been as starry and as surreal as the movies, he heard his alter ego mock and say: “Welcome to the real world now!”.
They say every beginning has an end
this end, he could hardly comprehend
Was love really a solution?
in a land that’s marred by corruption
corruption not just in offices
but in peoples’ souls and premises
corrupt values & morals reflected through their eyes
and in actions that are hypocritical and cold as ice.