I have a story to tell you.
For a change, an uncharacteristically real one. No lousy figment of imagination or any alliteration and rhyme- scheme patched literary modus operandi to make it look like a bizarrely compelling piece of writing. No clichéd introductions or vague explanations. Nothing to cater to your thrill seeking appetite today. Not because I do not want to, but because in dealing with issues like these, there is a need to be loud,clear and fiercely honest.
If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
– David Brin
So, there is this woman I know. She didn’t win any flashy awards or do anything extraordinary to catch anyone’s attention. Yet she seemed profoundly fascinating to me. The day I met her, she was wearing this faded pair of brown pants and a midnight black shirt to go with it. Her shirt looked a size smaller for her and for one whole second I worried if she would go out of breath. I didn’t see vestiges of any high-priced feminine make-up residue on her face. I assumed she didn’t particularly waste any of her time making a naive attempt to matte her blemishes or pimples with artificial paint. There was no flavor of an exotic perfume or a flowery talc flowing out of her. Her hair was long and thick but she chose to pull them together in a careless knot to her back. No trace of even the faintest disguise over her mind or body. She looked confident to me.Yet she chose to keep secrets. She looked happy to me. Yet she was not even remotely close to being happy . She was beaming at everyone who walked in. I decided to say hi .We started exchanging pleasantries and slowly she began pouring her heart out to me.Well, she is educated, she is married, she has a family and a place to call home. In one straight look, she had everything any Indian woman born to a middle class family would probably ask for. Somehow, there was this kind of emptiness in her eyes which reflected some deep remorse pressed against her inner chambers of heart that was impossible to miss. I asked her a few questions about herself. Her problems were not exactly simple.
She doesn’t want to be a woman. OK. I got what it meant. I mean literally Yes. The words were clear and they implied something crudely specific. Still my ingenious mind refused to comprehend the immense possibilities of a short sentence as that. I quickly started asking myself too many questions. A lot of them.Now, how do you think any woman can not want to be a woman? It is not like anyone had a choice anyway. Well, if our parents had it their way, there would not be a lot of women left in our civilization. But this was clearly not about that. Now, I can totally understand that it is an absolute ordeal to practice the life of a woman. To bleed 40 years of your life, seven days every month and yet keep it to yourselves like a dirty secret. To bear a child in yourself for 270 days, to feel her grow inside you and to nurture her every single second. To give birth suffering a pain of a 100 bones breaking together and still feel proud of it. There is just so much to being a woman. But she did not hate any of it. None of these were her problem.
She did not know. Her husband had always thought that her instincts were predominantly man-like. Obviously neither her family nor her husband understood her struggle.She had probably realized the truth about herself through her early stages of puberty. She always involved herself in deep romantic relationships with other females. She knew this made her happy. But then she just did not know why. How was she supposed to know anyway? She hated this body of a woman which she was bestowed with. She loathed the moments of intimacy with her husband. She felt nauseous when he tried to touch her. I bet it would have been hard on her. To not know that truth about ourselves for which we are going to be blamed forever. To seek answers and not find them anywhere. The first obvious explanation she got herself was that it was in her genes. She was told that her aunt had lived the life of a lesbian before she committed suicide fearing that she can never come out. She feared that she will never gain acceptance in her society. Not only had she inherited her Aunt’s name, she had brought down her very orientation down the biological tree. Her mother feared that history might repeat itself. She was rushed to doctors and hospitals regularly afterwards.
“Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”
I know that our society has not yet started understanding homosexuality fully (or even partially). Social acceptance is still a distant dream for people in love with someone of the same sex, mutually. Most of them are still forced to live dual lives.While they secretly pursue their true affinity and publicly marries and bear children with the opposite sex in an attempt to remain socially acceptable. Although I differ ideologically with them, I can empathize with them. I know that everyone has their own ways of dealing with circumstances like these. I know that it must have been their only solution to maintain balance in their personal and private lives.In this state of total uncertainty and mayhem, I wish to confuse you a little more with this piece.
Here, the issue is not her attraction to women. The question is , if she believes that she is more of a man than a woman, Don’t you think her falling in love with a woman is a very straight thing to do? Is it not an obvious result of her sexuality? Well, we as a society never had issues with straight people right? Are we ready to accept her then? Why do we call her names,tease her ,bend down to abuse her or decide to not react when we see her getting humiliated? Why don’t we put on our inquisitive shoes for once and try to at least fully understand this ‘abnormality’ scientifically? I know that you will now tell me that her saying that she wants to be a man doesn’t really change anything. Now tell me, Why wont it ? Do we know better? See, forget all these. You know what? Don’t you think this was all about us not liking them? Is it not about our war against what (we think) is not conventional?
Yes, It is true that she still bleeds seven days a month and has a fancy pair of breasts. She keeps her hair long and carries an ovary inside her. She can never scientifically prove to anyone that she is not what you would like to call a woman. Why is it that we cannot tolerate their right to manifest characteristics of their own choice? Living with an identity crisis has never been easy for her. Initially she would just try to make it look like her breasts were non-existent and dressing up like men came quite naturally to her. That was the only one possible way in which she could manifest her inclination. Then, she moved on to emotionally associate herself as a man. Consequently, she fell in love with a woman. And I don’t see anything strange about it. I think that as long as she continues to live as a law abiding citizen of the country, we should have no business in telling her how she should live her life or who she decides to live it with.
Shouldn’t she get a chance to be defined by a gender she identified herself as without undergoing any sophisticated surgery to remove her feminine remains?
I know that like all other inconsequential attributes that *define* us today like our caste, race or ethnicity, gender , has never been one of those things we could choose. I totally know. But how long are we going to stay blindfolded to people like her? How long are we going to pretend like they don’t exist ? Aren’t they humans like you and me who deserve to be treated equally? Don’t they have an unconditional liberty to study, to work, to marry or to lead a respectable life like everyone else? Now we can’t stop anyone from being what they want to be. We can only make them pretend. Why should they sacrifice their happiness for an entire lifetime just to feed our customary ego? I can be a woman and can sure as hell want to be a man. A man can manifest womanly characteristics too. Why is it that we as a society have no tolerance for it? Why is anyone’s sexuality any of our business ? Are we never going to learn let live ? Can’t we just let them choose their own preferences? Today I wont give you any answers. Because, I don’t have them. You can choose your own answers. You can choose to differ with my stream of thoughts. You can choose to remain silent. But remember if you don’t decide to speak for anyone today, Tomorrow there will be no one to speak for you.
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”.
-Inferno – Dan Brown.