This is a guest post by Sruthi Kitcha. Read her here. Thank you Sruthi.
It was a gloomy Sunday afternoon. I was on the way to the weekly meeting at Sangama Office. I saw a bird flying from tree to tree looking for an apt place to set its nest. It somehow seemed like my life. I’m a homeless wanderer right now seeking a nest. With so many thoughts flooding the mind, I reached the office. It was warm to see known faces and lovely smiles spread across those faces.
My eyes fell on the two strangers talking to my peers and typing the conversations in a laptop. Our head Karunakaran introduced me to those strangers. He said, “They want to understand about us and help us in some way. They will ask you a few questions. Please answer them”. With these words, he left me with these two people in a separate cabin.
Sitting across with two strangers and chatting brings me back all those horror stories alive once again. How much ever tears I shed, they fail to wash away the pain throbbing in my heart. I’m Rosy and here I’m talking with Sruthi and Prem who had come down to understand better about us and to help us in some way. Wondering what is there to help me? Well, I’m transgender. Their questions bring me back all those memories vivid and fresh. My eyes fail me and pour out attempting to ease the heart’s pain. Five questions and that’s all it needed to know my past and present. Future?? Yeah. That too. The questions are rhetorical and not worth mentioning. However, the answers are.
I was born like any other human being without any guiding star or Magi’s gift, though none could have predicted then that I’m going to be different. I was born in Nilgiris but was brought up in Bangalore. Right from the early days, life tossed me here and there. During the Cauvery river problem, my family fled to Tamil Nadu and I was lost in Bangalore. I somehow found a family where I stayed and worked. I had to discontinue my studies to feed myself. Then after a few years, my family came back to Bangalore and I settled with them. By then, our family was in a bad shape and an elder sister of mine was affected by brain fever. Even from those days, I was very feminine and was a victim of mockery and humility. I was doing all errands I could do to win bread for my family. Sounds like any Bollywood movie? Sometimes movies and real lives are one and the same.
One fine day- it was my cousin’s marriage. I was asked to fetch water. It wasn’t comfortable for me to just lift them with hands and walk. So, I innocently lifted the pot and kept it around my waist: the typical way how an Indian woman would carry a pot. My uncle saw me coming like that and in front of everyone, he said, “Are you a woman to lift a pot like this? Shame on you.” I was hurt. But, I just overlooked it and carried with my routine.
You can stand any mocking or humiliation from anyone but never from the man and woman who brought you to this earth with their blood. Did I tell that my father is a drunkard? If not know now. That night, he was all drunk and beat my mom. I couldn’t tolerate that and stand up to my dad told him to not to beat mom. Argument reached its peak and he looked at me yelling, “You are not a man at all! Pottai! If you are truly a man, sire a child and come in front of me. Then speak as you wish.” Pottai is a cheap word to refer men who are feminine.
So long, I took all the humiliations on a lighter note and walked away. However, I couldn’t take this one. My heart was bleeding. I decided to end my life and poured an entire can of kerosene and was about to light myself when my mom saw and ran to me. Between her heartbreaking sobs, she said, “You are the only reason, why this family is surviving today and more than everything I need you, Thomas. Don’t leave me and go. I can never face that.” She poured a bucket of water on my head and burnt those clothes alone. I felt that I should live at least for her sake. I was christened Thomas. Rosy is the name after I changed to this avatar.
I was so deeply hurt that I ran away from home. Then we were living in Chennai. I came to Bangalore and was roaming here and there. With no money in hands and no food to eat, I had no idea where to go. But my sister and her husband found me after a week I ran away from home. They took me to their place and said, “Thomas, you don’t stay in India. We will get you a passport. Go abroad and start a new life.” I’m still grateful to them for all those they did to me. They gave me money and sent me to Chennai to apply for a passport. Medical fitness test day. I was rejected for the reason that I was affected by a disease which was the initial step for AIDS. I was so dejected. My own dad spoke ill of me, everyone around me tells the same, and now when I thought that I saw a new ray of hope it is shattered with this disease now. I knew about the disease for I was connected with Sangama organization then as I was a homosexual. Even my mom’s love wasn’t a reason enough to stop me from taking my life away.
I went to Marina beach and decided to end my life in that endless sea. With mobile in one hand and 1500 rupees in another hand, I was torn between the decision to die and live. I was stepping into the waves and backing away the next minute. That is when my sister called me and asked where I was. My family did not know the fact I was a homosexual then. So, I cannot tell them the true reason why I was rejected for the medical test too. I said, “Akka, They rejected me telling that something is wrong with my blood. I don’t like to live akka. I’m in Marina beach now to end my life. Can you hear the waves?” I held the phone near the sea for her to hear the waves. She was immediately in tears and said, “Come back, Thomas. I will take care of you lifelong. But I can’t afford to lose you. Just stay with us.” Once again I dropped the idea of kicking the bucket and headed back to Bangalore.
Fate never stopped playing with my life. I reached Bangalore by train and was looking for an auto to go home. I spotted an auto and asked if he can take me to my place naming it. Driver readily agreed and a few others too got in. I thought it was something like share-auto. God knows what they thought of me. We were nearing our place and I asked the driver to stop. My words fell on deaf ears. He never stopped and headed to someplace. I started screaming and the two people who were sitting next to me pinned me down muffling my screams. The driver stopped at a deserted place which seemed like some forest area. They were four men including the driver. They dragged me out and…. and…. They dragged me out and tore my dress away. One man inserted his penis into my anus while another stuffed my mouth with his’. Other two were also harassing. Harassing is the lighter way of describing it. I can’t even explain the pain. My anus was torn and I was bleeding. All I remember is the unbearable pain and then everything went blank. When the insatiable beasts felt that satiated, they abandoned me. I woke up to find myself in the middle of forest lying naked on the ground with a bleeding anus and terrible pain.
I couldn’t get up and there was no energy left in me even to make noise for help. I felt so disgusted and ashamed. I didn’t have the courage to go back to my sister’s place. I gathered all the energy left in my body and got up. With pain throbbing in every inch of the body and a torn anus, I went to a doctor for treatment. He saw my condition and said, “You trans-genders are like this and I can’t treat you, filthy creature!” Even the government hospital did not treat me. I had been working with a dentist as an assistant. So, I knew little about medication. With no doctor to treat me, I went to a pharmacy and asked for an ointment and painkiller tablet. I gulped the tablet and applied the ointment but I was in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea of going back to my sister’s place in this condition.
I slept on the roadside living on bore water. It was four days since the horror happened and I was literally starving. Then came a fellow, to help me like a God-sent angel. He came to me and asked if I’m willing to come with him. Of course for the obvious reason: sex. I said. “I will come anywhere you call me, but please get me some food first. Just get a bun and tea and then take me anywhere.” He got me food and took me to a place. Yes, I gave him my body for his pleasure. Those monsters frayed my body abusively but this fellow got me food when I was starving. After he was done, he gave me 100 rupees for the services I provided him. At that moment those 100 rupees felt like winning some bumper prize of 1000 rupees.
I decided to go back home. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. At home, I heard my sisters talking. They were talking about how remote are the chances for them to get married, with no money at home. I knew I should earn and do something. But….. how do I earn?
That day, for the first time, I went and looked at my reflection in the mirror. Don’t ask me if I have never looked a mirror before. You know what I mean. I looked at my reflection and imagined how I will look without beard and mustache; with long hair and clad in a sari. The idea suddenly dawned on me. First, I went and shaved clean. I stole a sari, an in-skirt, a blouse, and a bra. Stuffed these clothes into a bag and took 400 rupees to buy a wig. I told my family that I’ve got an opportunity to work on a construction site and will be back in a month or two with money. They bought my story without any further questions and I walked out of the home with a clear mind on what I’m going to do.
I dressed in those stolen clothes and went to a bus stop hoping that I will be convincing enough to get a customer. Already, there were few other people like me trying to hook customers. Like any community, newcomers are ragged and probed with questions among us too. They approached me and asked who I am and why I was new there. I knew a few trans-genders through the Organization I was associated with and I immediately referred a trans-gender who had a voice in that area. They further asked if I had attained Nirvana and when I told no, they warned me about the police and rowdy issues and asked me to be safe. With that, they left to drench themselves in alcohol before satisfying some testosterone charged stranger. (A trans-gender attains Nirvana by undergoing castration operation.)
A man came and called me. He asked me how much the pay is. Honestly, I had no clue. However, I can’t lose my client. I asked, “How much are you willing to pay?” he offered 300 rupees. I got the amount and he took me to his house. In the middle of intercourse, somebody came and I had to flee away. I jumped a wall and landed on thorns. Without minding the thorns and bushes I ran back to the bus stop for earning more for the night. Luckily, I got the money from him before the act. By the time I reached the stop, others were waiting for me to loot half of my collection. It’s mandatory for us to give half of the earned amount to elder trans-genders. But right now I need money for my sister’s marriage. I tucked one hundred rupee note inside the bra and lied to them that I received 200 rupees. They took away a hundred rupees from me leaving me with 200 for my current mission: get my sister married.
I saved 30,000 in a span of three months and with that money I got my sister married. She now leads a happy life in Bangalore. After that, I decided to undergo the operation and attain Nirvana. Bad times never knock the door before it comes. My surgery was over, and I had to be on bed rest for a few days. Is it at this time my mom should smell something fishy and come in search of me? But that’s how life works. I had told at home that I was working with a contractor and I seldom went home. One night, my mom started searching for me in every possible place. A kind-hearted trans-gender akka called me up and told that my mom is in pursuit of me and asked me to go and meet her. She asked me to wear a shirt and trouser for my mom had no clue what I was up to. I decided it was high time I told my mom. I took an auto and went to the place where my mom was searching for me. I was wearing a female night dress. She was puzzled but got into the auto. I brought her home and told her the whole truth. I lifted my dress and showed her my operated genitals. She cried the way she would have had her son died. She said, “I gave birth to a son! What have you done to yourself? In what way, did I spare you my love and affection? Why did you have to do this?” I consoled her telling, “Amma. This is what I’m. It’s okay. You gave birth to a son but now you have a daughter. Only that has changed. Never will my love change for you.” With that, I couldn’t control my sobs. I lied on my mom’s lap and cried my heart out. After convincing her, I gave her some money and bid her farewell.
From then on, my routine was: go to shops and collect money; do sex-work; give half as per the untold rule; send home as much money as possible. Sounds like where we can put “the end” and say life went on like that ever after. Those things happen only in tales and movies. Real life is pretty nasty and doesn’t seem fair at all the time. Or to put it this way, I think God thought my life is getting settled and I’ve little peace. When I thought, I had nothing more to lose in my life and accepted the way it is, came a blow which made me realize the value of the precious thing I was in possession of. I had nothing valuable other than my mom. I lost her to the fate of death.
It was my birthday. I never realized. I was in bed with a customer when my mom called me on my mobile. I picked up and she asked if I remember what day it was. I had no idea and asked her what. She said, “It is your birthday honey! Happy birthday! Go to church and offer your token to God.” I thanked her for the wish, with blinking away those swelling tear beads. And that was the last time I heard my mom’s voice.
Exactly 30 days after she wishes, my sister called me up telling, “Our mom is in serious condition! Our dad has beaten her to death. Hurry up to Pondicherry general hospital.” I felt: my world is doomed. I later came to know what had happened. My mom had found 1000 rupees missing in the routine monthly amount I send home. She had inquired with my sisters and found the mystery of missing money wasn’t solved. However, it was solved shortly after the arrival of my dad. He was completely intoxicated. The capital for that intoxication was those 1000 bucks. My mom had started crying and between her sobs, she has asked, “Rosy is earning money by selling her body just to feed us and how shamelessly you flick that amount and drink! Don’t you have a heart?” That was all needed to agitate my dad. One slap! And there she was profusely bleeding hitting a stone in the head. The monster from whose loins I came didn’t stop there. He wasn’t drunk till his throat but was completely drowned that he couldn’t even realize that my mom was semi-conscious and was bleeding. He has said, “If you don’t get up now I’m going to kill you.” When she didn’t get up- of course, she was semi-conscious by then unable to move- he took a rock and smashed my mom’s head.
Sisters had rushed her to the hospital and there she was lying critically ill. I hurried to the hospital.
On the way, I had to cross a beach. There, a man signaled me and asked for my rate. I said, “Already am in agony, don’t trespass me now. Let me go in peace.” But he was so determined that he stalked me and abducted me to a lonely place. Needless to say, my anus was torn once again. When he was done with me, I couldn’t afford to take time to rest for it was my MOM who was there in the hospital. I again called my sister to ask for the exact details and she told that it was another hospital. I caught an auto and rushed up there to find my mom tied to the cot handles. Doctors told that she was getting fits and to prevent that they had tied her hands and legs to the cot. So long she hadn’t responded to anyone’s voice. But at the instance of my voice mom opened her eyes and tears were flowing down cheeks. Not just in her cheeks in mine too. Generally, I call my mom old’ granny. I started calling out to her, “Hey granny get up! I have come and how dare you sleep! Are you getting up or shall I leave?” No reaction. A nurse came with a glass of milk. I got it from her and fed a few spoons to my mom. And lo! She was gone.
I started drinking every day from then on. My only precious thing was gone and what else do I have in life to lose anymore? But bad times never come alone. The guru, with whom I was staying, chased me out of home looting till the last penny I had. They didn’t stop there. Before turning me out, she along with a few others tortured me physically by burning my skin, slitting open my back skin and lots more which can’t be said in words. Now I’m in no place to shelter my head and no penny in the pocket. Remember the sister whom I got married by saving money? I went to her place seeking asylum but all I got was a cold return. My sister’s husband chased me out like a stray dog. Dejected than ever and also with no roof over my head I started traveling on a train from Mysore to Bangalore every day. Sometimes I go to Marina beach to spend some time and come back. Now, I’m saving money little by little for rent advance and a house owner has given me a word that he will rent his place for me.
This is for my past and present. Now for the future: I adopted a baby girl. She is five months old now. I got her from a prostitute. She gave birth to this girl and was not in a condition to look after her. There is no law for people like us to adopt children. They say it’s unsafe and we cannot take care of them. But what do they know about our motherhood?. We can take care of kids better than many women. As I cannot adopt the baby legally, I bought her for five thousand rupees. I’m homeless right now and I know that she won’t be fine in my hands for now. I have left her with a sister in Pondicherry church. Every month I send 1000 rupees to sister to take care of my girl. Also, remember about a sister of mine who is affected with brain fever. All I want to do is take care of these two souls as much as I can. When my baby turns a year old, I will bring her here and keep her with myself and will bring her up.
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I would like to become a dentist. I’m ready to do any business other than sex-work to earn a livelihood. I know 5 languages. If not a dentist then I would like to work in BPO. I love that job. I’m not literate or anything to speak big and polished. But I can tell what my heart yearns for. I want to be treated as an equal human being in society. I don’t want sympathy or generosity from anyone. Please, do not give us a dirty look as if looking at the filth and move away in disgust. We are nature’s choice just like a man and woman. Just give us an equal opportunity and we will take care of ourselves. We are humans and are entitled every human right like anyone else. Please do not change your seat on the bus if you find a trans-gender sitting next to you. Do not mock at us or call names in public for even we have a heart which beats in the name of love and dies at every hostile look.
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