[Guest Author : Saakshi O. Juneja]
Sometimes mere conversations can lead to such profound insights that the after effect continues to linger on, even after months. And one such talk I had once with a dear friend.
It all started with my telling her about the family dinner I had the previous night at a fancy joint in the city – among the who’s and who of the town there was another very familiar face among the crowd. Familiar, not in sense I knew the concerned individual personally but someone I had read a lot about in our daily tabloids.
Besides belonging to a once upon a time influential business family, add to this on and off family feuds – Ajay Mafatlal managed to grab greater news space for something rarely heard of in our society, a sex change operation.
For those who aren’t familiar; Ajay was born as Aparna Mafatlal and in November 2003 underwent a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS). He was later on quoted saying,
I haven’t changed my sex for the property. I had the mannerisms of a boy since I was six years old and underwent the change for personal reasons.
[To know more, check out Ajay’s TOI interview].
Basically in our chat, I was in a way confessing to my friend of my own hypocrite mentality (or so I felt at the dinner table).
Meaning – After having invested considerable amount of time reading literature on Homosexuality (in India), interacting with those directly involved in the Rainbow Campaigns/Queer Fests, writing multiple posts informing and thereby asking readers to open their minds when it comes to the Indian Queer Community and the fact that two of my good friends (one of them having spent practically half of his life in the closet) are Homosexuals – there I was shying away from the very thing I have been preaching.
Seriously. I can’t even remember the number of times I must have bluntly stared at the poor soul; sometimes with curiosity and at times with amusement. It was as if I was not looking at a human being but a science experiment. A look around, the expressions on other faces were no different from mine. And I guess this is what made my guilt deeply trouble me, the fact that I was just one of them.
My friend on the other hand was her sweetest self and her constant assurance that “curiosity is natural” did help a bit but somehow even days after I was not able to shrug the guilt.
Crossing over the fence – One can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for people like Ajay to lead a normal life, be a regular guy; without being gawked at, finger pointing, behind-the-back talks and constant ridicule. Really, just think about it.
I believe only the ones with some serious will power and balls of steel (no pun intended) can lead a life filled with never-ending struggles (keeping the reserved Indian attitude in context).
Further into our talk, the topic of – Homosexual men having a slight edge over Homosexual females (in India) – also cropped up, a thought that has been with me for a while now. And something my friend, also seems to agree with.
Hopefully no one will jump to conclusions here, we are all on the same side (at least so I hope). But this is it for now, will talk more on the above in the next post.