Hijra

“How much did you give?” My boyfriend asked with a frown.

“Ten”, I replied like it was the norm, putting my purse away. Everybody knows that eunuchs don’t take lesser than that! Pfft.

“What?!” He turned away angry. He is a very economic type of a person. Ahem.

“Nobody hires them”, I said with a smile, trying to cheer him up.

“What?”

“Eunuchs. Nobody hires them. So, it makes them angry enough with all of humanity to ask for ten bucks.”

“I am not humanity”, he replied, still pouting.

“Oh really?” I flashed my smile again.

Anyway, there are certain places in India where eunuchs ask for money. I won’t use the word ‘beg’ because beggars don’t expect more than a one-rupee-coin and they consider it a successful business if you pay up at all. Eunuchs on the other hand, WILL make you pay them! And not lesser than ten bucks mind you! They stay stuff like, “WTF is this?” and throw your coin back at you if you pay less. And they say stuff like, “Hey, hero”, if you are a guy and you turn your face away to avoid paying.  And they bless your date/family/fiancée and you after one of you pay. I’m referring to her as “she”, because she was dressed in a sari. I have only ever seen one eunuch dressed as a boy. Their attire reflects how they want to be addressed I guess. There should be a pronoun for eunuchs too, don’t you think?

My question is, am I the only one who is perfectly comfortable with people-in-between? We met her again when we went for a walk a few minutes later. I saw her coming towards us and I said, “We already paid you!”

“When, hon?”

“There!” I pointed to the place where we had been sitting. “You called him ‘hero’, remember?” I added with a giggle.

“Oh”, she said and continued on her way, probably not used to payers being friendly to her.

Then after a while, when we were making our way back, she came towards us again and recognizing us, she said, “Uff! I keep coming across you guys”, and walked away again while I laughed.

Eunuchs are extremely friendly people. I guess because they already know that people dislike them, they have no problem in being themselves with strangers. Or maybe, they see how their presence makes people uncomfortable and they enjoy making them more so. But that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the issue of employment. Sure, when it comes to beggars, whether they have a choice or not is open to discussion. But eunuchs DON’T HAVE A CHOICE! We all grumble when they come around in the train and we have to part with a ten-rupee-note, but say a eunuch wanted to work at our home as a maid, would we EVER hire her?! Would we be friends with a eunuch if one studied with us at our high school? Would they not be sexually harassed if they studied, grew up and lived among us? Why would we shun away a part of mankind simply because we are not like them? We say that they are not “natural”. Darling, anything that nature accommodates is natural. So, next time don’t turn your face away when they come along clapping for your money – if you wouldn’t hire them, or wouldn’t be comfortable working with them if your boss hired them. Think of it as tax, tax that you pay to humanity for being a closed-minded jackass. And remember all those times that you sat alone at lunch-break because it was your first day at school/college/work-place and imagine how it would be if you had to sit alone for a life-time. Imagine how it would be to be a walking embarrassment; to be disgust personified. Imagine how it would be to be born with ‘freak’ branded across your forehead with invisible, indelible ink.

PS- I had heard that every time a ‘hijra’ is born, the hospital pronounces it as a miscarriage and secretly has the baby transported to a ‘hijra’ community. It had given me a nightmare and I hope to God it isn’t true.

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