Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Hijra with a Cleft lip

Tonight, while out doing some quick shopping at Zamzama, a hijra (transsexual) walked up to me asking for money. I quickly walked into a shop to avoid him. When I walked out a few minutes later, the hijra was still there and on spotting me came forward again. I walked towards another shop and kept saying no to all his requests. Before stepping into the shop, I turned around and said to him: 'You are able bodied. Why don't you find some work instead of begging like this'.

The horror of my statement hit me within minutes. I went through my purse, took out a fifty rupee note and decided to give it to him. But when I stepped out of the shop, the hijra had left.

I still haven't been able to forget the expression on his face. I don't remember many details of his appearance except that he was quite decent, unlike the ones who are begging at the Teen Talwar signal. He had a cleft lip which he had tried to cover up as much as possible with white powder. 

Have I become so indifferent to my surroundings that I told him off with instructions to find a job? I mean, in all seriousness, who will give this person a job? Me? You? I understand that handing out money to them is not a solution. Maybe even the hijra I met today might have just blown the money on booze or drugs. But maybe, just maybe, he might have bought some food for himself and some friends. 

It is easy for us to walk away from them in shopping areas or turn a deaf ear when they tap on our car windows at traffic signals. But the truth is that they are as much a part of this society and this city as we are and as humans, they have an equal right to live. Just because we were born normal and in a good household doesn't make us better or superior. And even though doling out money is not, like I said, a solution; I will be on the lookout for this hijra tomorrow evening.