After a break, I eventually got done with reading the book. It was just too strong and too harsh a portrayal for me to read it in one go. Great thing – There was a surge of Hope after I was done reading.
The book is an autobiography by Revathi, a transwoman from a small village near Namakkal, TamilNadu who talks about her upbringing, despair, struggle in the sex community and eventually as a social activist working for Sangama in this fascinating book. She weaves through a story that I can only believe is and should be untrue to every individual. At times, I cried for her – reading about the things that she had to put up with in her life, and selfishly for myself because of the struggle I did not have to go through.
Yet there were few things that really put me off. I was not quite able to understand the strict adherence to hierarchy and tradition in the Hijra community. I am still baffled by the necessity to pay off one’s guru. Life is already so hard being on the streets and to shave a cut off your already meagre income is quite unacceptable for me. May be its just a way for people to live as they get old.
The other thing that irked me quite a bit was the way she referred to herself as a man in a self-piteous tone. From her travails, it clearly looks at how she sees herself as a woman -in and out. Yet, on moments of confrontation, particularly, in the drama with her family, that goes on and off, she often lets others and also let that affect here while referring to herself as a man. I just hope something was lost in the semantics or possibly lost in translation.
I think this is a great book – it made me realise and learn a lot of things. It definitely puts a provocative stand for every thinking person out there who would ever come across a Hijra. A community so much at odds and so much shunned.
This book was originally published in Tamil as Unarvum Uruvamum and has been translated into English by V.Geetha . I saw the English version in the “most popular” shelf at Landmark. Definitely not meant for Queers alone but for everyone out there who feels a sense of community as “Us” and not as “Us and Them”.