She looked into my eyes and questioned: “Is this what I deserve?!”
‘Welcome to the Pride month’- read the artistic poster of my college. At this point of time, the only thing that captured my attention was that colorful, self-explanatory rainbow. I ruffled through it, as I do with every poster or circular, with complete belief that I can’t contribute in anyway whatsoever, but wait!! There you see this beautiful word ‘essay’. It jerked my heart and my eyes dilated with hope. So, here I am with some of my encounters and tryst with the topic.
My essay may sound like a casual conversation but I think that way it would be successful in touching the readers’ hearts and make some difference.
Well, by now, we all must know what LGBTQIA+ stands for; however, I’ll mention it again for you: L-Lesbian, G-Gay, B-Bisexual, T-Transgender, Q-Queer, I-Intersex, A-Allies/Asexual.
So, my first encounter with this world transpired when I was approximately 8 years old with a news channel reporting something about it. Obviously, I had my questions and I neatly presented them before the elders only to see them burst with laughter disparagingly. One of them managed to look into my eyes and answered, “Darling, they are called Hijras”. I could see no reason in their laughter but was surprised to know that such people exist and are made to feel outcast for no fault of theirs. The matter ended there and I didn’t think about it again for quite a time.
As the time led me into my teen -‘the era of naughty hormones’-I discovered this concept of puberty which makes a boy a ‘REAL MAN’ and a girl a ‘REAL WOMAN’ as someone taught me. As I began to think that only two varieties are normal and perfect, it was soon washed away with the tears of my close friend who freaked, “My parents doubt if I’m a girl! I haven’t had my periods yet! Hey, do you think I’m a dude?!! What if my parents throw me out?! What a CURSE!!” In her tear droplets, I could see many such queer folks shedding tears and imploring to be treated as humans. I didn’t see why they had to hide their gender identities and why they were deprived of their right to express proudly, “YES! I’m a gay” or “Yup, I’m a lesbian and I’m proud of it”, just like any other man or woman.
With the passage of time, my knowledge about them grew especially in a classroom called ‘traffic signals’ where we get to see them all decked up and beg for money or even flirt to ease out few leafs of money out of men’s pockets. My mind asked my eyes ‘Hey is this how they are? All flirty?! , and a ‘mangalamukhi’ started sauntering towards me. I cringed and hid while she could sense it from far and even before she considered begging me she lowered her head down and walked away. I peeped at her as she continued her business with others and suddenly I could see a part of her looking at me questioning, “All flirty, is it?! No one would really want to objectify oneself like this! It’s indeed humiliating but we are left with no other option. We do have self-respect and we, as well, are humans. Do you get it?!” I shook off from my reverie as the signal cleared.
One evening in the class the lecturer couldn’t tolerate any more disturbances and so he walked furiously straight towards the lads grinning, chuckling and clapped and muttered, “You folks are ‘ade’ and the whole class guffawed. I was dumbstruck for in my mind’s eye I could see the entire class closing in on her and laughing at her for the way she was. I felt as if she looked into my eyes and asked, “Do you think this is what I deserve?!”
Unless and until the mindsets of the people change no law can make any real difference whatsoever. As I conclude, I can still see her smiling at me for sharing this piece. So, I believe that next time you-lovely readers-see her again on a road begging, you would treat her as any other human and possibly would even offer her a respectable job. Who knows? This might be the answer to her question, “Is this what I deserve?!
Mahalakshmi Karantha K R
BA, LL.B 2nd Semester