For all the Indians traveling in sleeper class on Indian railway, waiting on the traffic signal or owning a shop in a crowded market place… a eunuch begging or rather troubling you for money is a common site. And for most of the guys who have come across such situations, eunuchs are considered as a big menace. I have however always maintained a soft corner for these Hijras despite being troubled many a times. After all they are humans too, and they have every right to live a normal healthy life.
Me and my wife went to watch the movie “welcome to Sajjanpur” yesterday and the character of Munnibai really left a lasting impression on me. First her one liners on men and later her deplorable bespeak for a police protection to ward off the threat by a rowdy opposition leader in a panchayat really brings tears. It reminded me of a heart rendering interview of a eunuch, Salma living in Vikhroli, a suburb of Mumbai India few years back. There was a big community living in abandoned buildings and extremely guarded environment. They never spoke in public or gave an interview any where. In fact, it was the first time I read an interview of a eunuch.
She said there were normally 3 types of eunuchs, who worked rather served in various capacities in their community. The good looking ones were forcibly put in prostitution. The average ones would work in various dance bars either as waitresses or simply to entertain men. The ugly ones were treated like servants and forced to beg on the streets or on the railway stations. Such communities are spread across India and normally there is one head Hijra who controls them. They do not have any formal education, medical facilities nor they get to enjoy normal life. They are confined to their ‘adda’ or ‘moholla’ and tread a life we would even fear to imagine. “Then why don’t you break the shackles and lead a good life?” asked the journalist to Salma. She was quick to retort that they are better off inside their own world. They are tormented, hated and shoved off at times with vengeance. Hear they are protected from the world and well taken care off. At least they manage to earn their daily bread through fair means. “Forget other things, how many of you would even like to share a table with a hijra in a restaurant?” she asked. The answer would probably be none. It is indeed a bitter fact fort all of us who keep voting for uplifting the smallest bug in the world and yet ignore the eunuchs who are so much humans. Sad but its true.
I remember my early days in Mumbai when I was traveling in a bus. There was a seat vacant and still I found few men were standing in the bay. I went and occupied the seat. To my amusement, my co passenger was a Hijra. Almost all men started staring at me. She looked at me with a surprised look, I gave a smile. She gave a grateful smile and probably struggled to hold her tears.
Humiliation against any race is humiliation against yourself. I wish we will understand this one day.