Society- Country- World

The Third Kind

5..4..3..2..1.

Green!

The signal was green. The traffic started again. Everyone was in a hurry. The loud honks and the sudden hustling were creating a cacophony piercing through the city’s tone. It was one of the busy days. The people were queued up one behind the other in the signal mocking the way they exist in the society.

The more fortunate ones who were sitting in their fat cars showing off the society their economic status were not happy waiting for their turn. They were the most impatient of the lot. The somewhat less fortunate, decked up as death riders, on their fancy bikes were gazing at the closed windows of the cars beside them, trying to get a reflection of their self. Fixing their posture or sunglass, they would eye at the driver, envying him inside and cursing the sun and the heat. They all want to be in that car beside him someday.

The even less fortunate were the ones on public transport .The sweat, the foul odor of the man standing with his armpits exposed, the man who had been drooling in his sleep and the unbearable heat inside the bus, would make them petulant. The bikers would swiftly overtake the bus from one side and go ahead in the race. They would envy him, cursing him inside. They all wanted to be in that bike riding faster than him someday.

The entire city was in a hurry. Living itself was a competition. There was time for no one. Even the 120 seconds red signal would make them peevish, honking, gearing the accelerators like wild bulls in captivity standing at the brink of getting free.

Among all of them, she stood. She was not one of them. She was no competition and she was in no hurry. As the signal turned green, all the vehicles started to honk at her trying to make their way. She slowly walked to the other side of the divider towards the footpath.  The vehicles rushed passed her as she crossed the road. Some even hurled abuses at her for being so slow. She didn’t mind anymore. 30 years she had been doing this.

She came to the other side of the road and stood near the big tree. She had to wait for the signal to turn red. It would be just a few minutes of wait. She looked at the sun. It was right above the head. The tree provided a shady shelter.

She was Lakshmi, a middle aged 50 years old human being. She was a woman trapped in a man’s body. She was the third kind. She was a transgender.

Laxmi was not keeping well these days. She was having this constant fever for the past 10 days. Devi had been asking her to see a doctor for some time now.

“You should not neglect didi”, Devi would say.

But even Devi knew visiting a doctor was not easy. They are not welcome anywhere. Doctors, although treated them sometimes but always with disgust, a treatment they are very familiar to.

Lakshmi was feeling weak today. The fever, the hunger and the heat was making her nauseous. But she had no choice. The little that she earns from this traffic signal was all she had.

Life had been so different she thought. As a child, she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to earn money, be a cardiologist.

“Stupid dreams”, she murmured.

Lakshmi was born to a middle class Tamil family as Laxman Iyer. Her father worked at the RTO office as a clerk in the city. Her mother was a housewife.

Right from his childhood, Laxman had different choices. He didn’t like playing outside with the boys. He liked dancing, a trait he got from his mother’s genes who was a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. He would imitate her ‘mudras’ in front of the mirror. When his parents would be out, he would cautiously sneak into their room, take out a ‘dupatta’ or a scarf and drape it around his tender body. He wanted to look pretty, trying out the cohl or the new shade of lipstick his mother would possess.

His feminine approaches and behavior made him the easiest target for the bullies. School was a nightmare for him. Every day, during the lunch time, the other kids would tease him, calling him with dirty nicknames, sometimes touching him inappropriately. He would run to the washroom and lock himself in the toilet. Sometimes he even had his lunch there. Each time he complained about this to his mother, she would say,

” Don’t cry son. Be a man. Tell them to back off next time”.

He never wanted to be a man. And never could he express this to his mother. He wanted his mother to understand him. And somewhere he felt, she did understand but pretended as if it was nothing.

“You are a disgrace “, shouted his father once when he found him in one of his private moments dressed up like a girl in his room. He never spoke to him after that.

When he was 15, his mother gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Shruti.

“How adorable she was”, Lakshmi thought.

By then, he was pretty sure that he wanted to be a woman. His baby sister was the love of his life. He would cradle her in his arms, feed her, and sometimes sing to her. Shruti was like someone Laxman was never going to be.

The sudden dissonance of the traffic brought back Lakshmi from her train of thoughts. The signal had turned red again. The crowd was getting impatient. She went in the traffic clapping her hands at the people making faces in disgust, standing in the signal. She went and knocked at the window of a car. The people inside the car chose to ignore. She left the car and went to a biker. Bikers were an easy target.

“God will bless you son, give me something!” she clapped her hands as she demanded.

The rider took out a ten rupees note and handed over to her.

She took the money and blessed him with her hands. The people behind her started honking again.

The signal had turned green.

Lakshmi crossed the road again. She checked her day’s collection. It was ninety rupees in her pouch. She was not feeling well. She thought of going home for the day. Ninety rupees was less; “Guru Ma “would be angry.

Parvati was the head of their colony. She was the eldest of them all. She was the “Guru Ma” or the “mother” of their group.  She had seen it all. From begging to prostitution she had gone through all of that hell in the sixty five years of her lifetime.

Everyone would bring their daily collection to “Guru Ma” and she would keep some amount for the daily grocery, food and shelter and return the rest. The colony was about 2 kilometers  from the signal.

It was already a hot day. Lakshmi started walking towards the colony. The colony had three rooms, two common bathrooms. It was on the other end of the slum near the dump yard where the city would dump their waste.

“How ironic was it! The society’s waste residing near the city’s dump yard”, Lakshmi thought.

While walking her way back, Lakshmi got indulged in her wave of thoughts. She remembered the day she left the house.

Laxman was 20 and he had just dropped college. His father wanted him to get married to a girl and take up a job.

“I don’t want to marry a girl father”, he told.

His father slapped him and for one last time uttered the same words he used five years ago

“You are a disgrace!”

That night Laxman had decided to leave the house and look out for his fate. After three weeks of staying hungry and living in the railway station, he met Parvati. Parvati introduced him to the group and to Banno , the then Guru-ma or “Mother” of the clan.

For two years he served them as one of them. It was their law. New members had to worship and serve their fraternity for two years before they were accepted as one of them.

“It was a cold December night”, she recalled.

It was the big hall room. A 100 watt bulb lit around the room. The place was smelling of chlorine and was unbearably cold. Laxman lay down in the cold table, naked and shivering. A picture of the goddess ‘Ardh-nariswar’ hung just in front of him. Guru Ma and a local doctor came in.

There was no anesthesia, no painkillers but direct pain. The surgery went for 2 hours. All she remembers now was that picture that hung in front of her. She screamed, she shouted and finally lost her consciousness as she slowly transformed from Laxman to Lakshmi.
The castration left her weak for days. There would be occasional pain and bleeding. For days she would prefer less liquid intake since urinating would be the most difficult job.

But amidst all the pain, one of her dreams came true; the dream to live in a woman’s body. She was one of them. Her past was like a bitter hangover. She had a new life from now.

This life was over for her to desire anything else, she knew. All she dreamed now was to be reborn as a girl.

thirdkind

 

 

When Lakshmi reached the colony, she could see five of the sisters standing near the courtyard, dressed up like princesses.

“Are you getting married pretty ladies”, she asked teasing the young ones.

Some of them chuckled, some of them blushed.

Only if I could didi, Randeep Kapoor wouldn’t be single still”, one of them chortled.

Lakshmi laughed along with them.

They were the new members of the group, young and immature. The spring of youth had just touched them. They were still trying to grasp their sexuality, exploring new feelings, falling in love and utterly unfortunate.

“There is a baby born in the big house near the signal. We are going there. Come join us. “One of them said.

Invading a house blessed with a baby and demanding money for the celebration and the blessings fetched them quite a lot of money. Although Lakshmi didn’t feel good at all, she realized this was a good way to earn some more money. So, she joined them.

The house was just on the corner of the traffic signal. It was a two storied independent house with a small courtyard after the main gate. The courtyard had a way to the main house beside a well maintained garden.

Lakshmi was the eldest of the five accompanying her. When they reached, the younger ones started to sing and dance in the courtyard. Lakshmi rang the bell.

After a while, a fair and good looking young lady came outside.

She was in her 30s. She looked pale and tired. Lakshmi realized she was the mother of the baby.

The lady however looked very familiar to Lakshmi.

“I have seen her somewhere”, Lakshmi thought “Where could it be? Was it at the signal?”

But she could not recollect.

 

“There is a new-born in the house. We have come for the celebration”, Lakshmi said.

The lady looked at Lakshmi with abhorrence and asked how much they demanded.

Lakshmi demanded four thousand.

The lady was not ready to budge on that amount of money. After a lot of negotiations and bargaining, they settled on three thousand.

“Let us bless the baby”, Lakshmi said.

Lakshmi was the eldest. She had to bless the new born.

The lady handed the new born to Lakshmi. It was a baby girl.

The baby had the eyes of the mother. It giggled as Lakshmi took her in her arms.

“How adorable she is”, Lakshmi thought.

A sudden chill of emotion ran down Lakshmi’s body. Her heart started to beat fast, her vision blurry from the water in her eyes. A realization had dawned on her.

The mother of the baby was none other than her own sister Shruti.

The baby was Shruti’s replica. Lakshmi realized why she found the lady so familiar.

There was a rush of varied emotions inside her. She just blessed her niece. She felt so happy for her sister.

“Shruti was a mother now”, Lakshmi beamed.

Not even in her wildest dream, Lakshmi had thought of seeing her sister again, let alone holding her child.

In a transgender’s life, there are seldom such occasions when the heart is over flooded with joy. It was one such day for Lakshmi. The long lost hope of meeting her abandoned family just came back bringing a bag full of dreams and desires that she knew was not possible.

Shruti saw the oldest of the transgender in the group wiping her tears. She felt a little bad for being rude to her earlier.

“Do you need some water”, she asked Lakshmi as she handed the money.

Lakshmi smiled as the tears rolled down her cheek and declined the offer.

 

When she reached her colony back it was already evening. Lakshmi had lost her appetite. It was as if the joy and happiness she experienced today had satisfied all her basic needs like hunger. She had never been so happy in her entire life.

Her body was burning with high temperature. She decided to lie down.

In a life without expectations, such surprises make you desire more. Lakshmi could not forget the baby’s face. That surreal innocence and the broad smile reminded her of Shruti’s infant days.

With the high temperature and a roller coaster of emotions, Lakshmi hallucinated. She was in a state of trance, far away from reality. She dreamed to have a family; to live a life that was respected. In her dream, she stood beside Shruti in that courtyard, caressing the new born. She was a woman in the dream.

Lakshmi could not pass the night. Her body succumbed to the immense happiness and the fever. She died of a heart attack. Happiness was a not only a myth for people like them, it was lethal as well. The train of thoughts slowly transported her to the other world, a world where she was equal and not discriminated.

The early morning rays carefully kissed Lakshmi’s body. Her lifeless body lay there in the room. Her torpid face was calm and peaceful. Streaks of dried tears made a mark on her cheeks.  Her life had no ambition, no expectation but always struggle. Though her life could not be happy, Lakshmi had a happy death. She had left this society where she had no place. Her only dream was to be born as a girl again. Death was indeed necessary.

She was not a man, neither a woman. She was the one who lives to be reincarnated as someone accepted, someone loved, someone respected. She was a person who had always experienced the worst of all. Her fate had molded her in to a mettlesome human being. She was not normal but she was way stronger than those who were considered normal by this society.

She was Lakshmi, she was the third kind.

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Is INDIA really Democratic?

It has been 65 years since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the tricolour for the first time in free India. It was 15th August 1947. 3 years later, the Constitution of India came into existence. The Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them. And it is written that there are six fundamental rights:

1. Right to equality

2. Right to freedom

3. Right against Exploitation

4. Right to Freedom of Religion

5. Cultural and Educational Rights

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies

Well, that is what is “written” in the Constitution. But following certain incidents happening around the country, a question has started haunting my mind, “Is India really democratic?”

What is Democracy?

Democracy is not just the power to exercise your vote. Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Now the question is, do we have an equal say? Or do the decisions our Government take affect our lives in a positive way? The answer is very hard. Because even though we know the answer is a big “No” still we do not have the courage or guts to say it on the face. And that cannot be blamed. No one can risk a sudden arrest on charges unknown by some political party because of such comments! The constitution which boasts of the “Freedom of Speech” as one of the 6 fundamental rights is defamed! The people of the country have been shut down by the monsters with great powers.

How Is India different from USA (Root Cause)?

Being an Indian, we must be proud to know that India’s GDP is among the top ten and India’s PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) is among the top three in the World.  Then why is that Indians still have to look up to America which has a “not so good” economy to take any major decisions?  America’s “boss” attitude was not known or acknowledged by the world till World War II (Remember the surprise attack on Hiroshima & Nagasaki?). Few days back, the entire media, the entire country was busy speculating the presidential elections in America. Have you ever thought that how many Americans would care for elections in India or how many Americans at all know our country’s Prime Minister?

Why is India still not up to the level to be at par with America?

I thought and could think of two main reasons. There might be “n” number of such reasons though.

  1. There are just two parties in America, Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, in India, you fill find a party in every nook and corner. Almost every symbols are used it seems. And if this continues, we might have a “Chacha Chaudhari” or “Shaktiman” as party symbols soon. With so many number of parties, the competition to the throne increases. And these parties start searching for new propagandas to fool the mass because ultimately, whoever comes to power, personal profit becomes the foremost priority than the country.
  2. There is a minimum educational qualification required to stand for a President’s post in America. In India, there seems to be no educational qualification for politicians. No matter how educated you are, you still have the authority to rule the country. So damn strange!

What may be the Solution?

Firstly, before we jump into the solution let us understand where actually the problem is. The problem is, though India has allowed its people the right to vote, thus declaring it democratic, the citizens can only choose among the selected candidates from the party. In other words, the citizens do not have a choice of the candidate. So, in India maximum percentage of votes are based on party and not individuals. There might be a completely uneducated guy with few criminal records, who has been chosen by a party for a particular location. Citizens who support that party would go and blindly vote resulting that criminal to win and allowing him to enter the system. So, we actually are choosing a ruling party and not the rulers!

But then how can we prevent such a thing? How can we choose good and ethical rulers when we are already biased with a particular party?

The solution though might require a revolution for a century, but I think, the solution can ease out the problem India is facing now.

1. First, the number of parties should be reduced to a max of 5 for the entire country.

2. Just like ICS (Indian Civil Service) and other competitive exams, there must be an exam called Indian Political System (IPS) of the same standard.

3. The minimum educational qualification for candidates appearing for the exam must be post graduation.

4. Candidates while filling the form can fill a maximum of 3 preferences for joining a party starting from first to third priority. A candidate will get his top priority party only if he scores above a pre-determined cut-off.

5. Once the candidates clear the exam, there would be a GD (group Discussion) & PI (Personal Interview) to judge the candidates personality. And the marks obtained in these rounds along with the written round will make the final score.

6. There should be no criminal background of the candidate.

7. Once the candidate clears the exam, he becomes a part of the party depending on his score and preferences.  He is eligible to contest an election only after serving the party for 5 years. Because otherwise, young people greedy for power will keep shuffling the parties to get into elections.

8. Once, a candidate is chosen by the party to contest his elections, his background verification is mandatory and would be looked after by a separate committee who would report to President.(Thus giving the president some more role in the democracy!)

9. Every listed MLAs or cabinet ministers or party members would retire at the age of 60. Thus by this, we give chance to more youth to take part in the system and end the system of “too old” ministers.

If such a system is possible, then it will not compromise with the voter’s choice for party or individual as the voters can be assured of the candidate’s quality.

I am not a political guru or someone who knows everything. I am just a youth of the country tired of the wrong done continuously. The idea of IPS might be very impractical to some as it may take years to implement such a system. But instead of waving it out, we can at least think of improvising it. It is very easy to say, “Politics is dirty” but it is hard to clean it up! The corruption, scams and forced respect that the country rulers are busy with is just because, the rulers of the country aren’t enough educated to rule a country like ours. When our forefathers got us Independence, they thought, “Let our country prosper, who cares for a life!” And now, our politicians think, “Forget country, let our life prosper!” If only we could raise our voices through all possible means without fearing “the men in power”, perhaps we can bring the change; the change that seriously is needed right now. Let the youth stand up now. Let us bring a change, let us redefine our Country! I Hope to see a new INDIA, a better INDIA.

Is North-East in INDIA?

 

Before I choose to explain the reason for such weird and controversial title, I have just one question. How many of you readers can actually name all the states along with their capitals in the North East? Try it. You’ll understand what I am talking about.
The reason for this blog post is because of the utter disgust due to the ignorance of people about the place. I am from Agartala, Tripura. (Wonder where?) It is the last tip of the North-eastern stretch surrounded by Bangladesh on 3 sides.
It has been 5 years now I am staying outside of my hometown. And believe me, in the entire 5 years the only thing I hated the most was when I was asked, “Hey, Shamik where are you from”?
The reason is because I am tired of the blank look I get on the faces when I tell them about my place.
Some say, “Oh! It must be in Assam.”
Some drag it to Burma. And some thinks it to be a different country.
My question is “Why?” Why would my fellow Indians be so negligent about this part?
Please for God’s sake, Tripura is not in Assam and Mizoram is not Manipur.
It’s like, “oh! Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is the same thing!” or may be, “Haryana is the capital of Punjab!”
Does it make sense?
I have grown up reading murders and useless killings everyday in the newspaper. When the entire country was busy with Pakistan and Osama Bin Laden, people in North East were killed, their houses were burnt down. We talk about insurgency. I bet, the government doesn’t have the count of the population expansion because of the easy access from Bangladesh. I have seen India-Bangladesh border in Tripura where there are pillars for about 1 km but no barb wires. How do you expect some 3-4 BSF jawans to guard the entire area properly?
People might know about PoK(Pak occupied Kashmir). But do you know about the part of Arunachal Pradesh illegally captured by China since the 1962 war? In a recent display in China, Arunachal Pradesh was included in the Chinese map and was named “South Tibet”. People living in the border get all their daily requirements from China but are called Indians. Think of their confusion!
When I talk about terrorism, Kashmir comes in our mind. Quite natural. It is because that is where media is more interested about. But for Assam, the problem is from 1970. ULFA did it all. Now bomb blasts and killings are like viral fever there. Every one or the other day someone is the victim. But still rest of the India has no clue.
NLFT was the terrorist group that led to many innocent killings in Tripura, including the health minister of Tripura Bimal Sinha. Though these days they are not much efficient, but still there was a time when the entire state fought a mini-war, a war for survival.
I cannot blame the citizens completely. The government and the media are equally involved. When big cities kept getting promoters to build KFCs, Mc Donalds and beautiful malls, Agartala got its first railway station in 2008,61 years after Independence(though meter gauge).
Well, I am not asking the rest of the country to feel pity for us. I am just asking them to stop turning their back towards us.
India is a land of diversity. Very true. And in north east you can find them so beautifully proved. Tripura has 19 different tribes, each having different custom and different language. Yet we stay together.
Then why is that North East not known to the country. Each state has its own beauty, own dish, own culture different from the rest of the country. Yet the tourism department of the North-eastern states doesn’t earn much. It’s because, though tourists know about its beauty, they do not find it friendly enough for a vacation. But that is completely a myth. People are friendly in Northeast and happy to help. But can friendship be one sided?
I am not requesting the people to love us. I want people to know us; because once you know us you will love us automatically!
Finally to help all the readers who struggled in the first question, here is the answer:

  1. Arunachal Pradesh –       Itanagar
  2. Assam                          –        Dispur
  3. Manipur                     –        Imphal
  4. Meghalaya                 –       Shillong
  5. Mizoram                      –       Aizawl
  6. Nagaland                    –       Kohima
  7. Sikkim                         –       Gangtok
  8. Tripura                       –       Agartala

 

 

Obama and America’s future can be learnt later. Let us KNOW about our OWN country first. Let our culture flow. Let us be friends. Northeast isn’t different. Northeast is INDIA!