Radha (Third Gender) Fights elections from Malad East
Radha (Third Gender) Fights elections from Malad East9 mins 254 9 mins 254
I was glued on to the TV and to the vote counting office. I was waiting for the results of election of Malad East. Yes I contested to become a MLA. I had no ideology hence was willing to lean to any party; I felt I just needed to serve the people of the constituency getting into power. No one was willing to give me the seat in spite of all the good work I had done to the people around; yes I contested the election as and Independent candidate as a transgender. This was my first fight in open to come to the mainstream while I have fought for various causes. This I thought is going to be the litmus test for me as well as transgender to be accepted as a mainstream gender.
I still remember the day when I was going to the booth for filing my nomination along with my close friend Nathan and my father, people were laughing at us. The election officer had no choice as the ruling had come in favor to make Transgender to being eligible to contest. While the nomination office and the officer accepted my nomination, I could not see the pleasure, curiosity or the seriousness, which normally is seen on such occasions.
Early days of mine may be I would have been 5 or 6 years, I was shouted by the schoolteacher for having entered into the female toilet along with the other girls. As I grew up and started growing my hair, the boys slowly disassociated with me, and I continued to hang around the girls most of the times. I was becoming more feminine as the time passed while still the masculine exhibitions of the biological hormones did no subside.
I continue my studies till 10th standard; I scored almost akin to the toppers in the school, even in spite of the fact that I had a tough time. I was bullied, I was mocked, and sometimes abused sexually too. The words that were used against me were terrible. I went to the extent of thinking of committing suicide. But I had one friend in me who gave that comfort, who used to coax me and cajole me about the inherent talents I possess. I did not confess about my status to my parents for long fearing getting ostracized at the family end too.
I felt sick of going to college, I did not feel like going outside. I used to shut myself feeling very lonely. I did not lack in any capabilities, is just that I was born transgender, on which I as a child did not have any choice. I was feeling normal in my own dreams, I had cherished to study well and become an astronaut, the environment and circumstances were so punishing and killing that I stopped going to college.
When I was transitioning I expressed this to my parents, hoping that there will be a lot of support from their end. But it was not forthcoming to the extent that what I would have expected it to be. The parents looked like were more bothered about the society around than their child. Things like, what people tell about us, and how I will be brought up, what will be my locus standee in future, these were the questions, which were brooding them. But they loved and cared for me, so unlike others, who were left to lurch to make their living, I was not on the roads begging and getting into prostitution of a different kind.
I decide to do a graduation through correspondence, I used to hardly come out and I was just shelved in like in a cocoon at home. When relatives used to come, most of the times my parents made me to pretend falling sick, there by restricting my movements around. For all practical purposes I was living a life of a prisoner in the jail. Just the only difference being my father asked me to continue studies at least as correspondence course.
Sometimes I used to wonder that my intelligence was much more than many of the people around. I did feel that I could put my body and mind to use productively instead of brooding. I thought when people were fighting for their rights, why I should keep quite at home and bear this suffering.
I wanted to fly out, reach the skies and enjoy the breeze. I wanted to immerse my self in the river waters, swim the seas and announce to the world that Yes I too am like any other human and with emotions in play. No one except my close friend Nathan understood my problems and me. He used to regularly visit my house and give that comfort and soothing feeling. He had a good equation with my father too.
One evening, he comes and convinces my father, of letting me free, opening the clutches out and allowing me to run the way I wanted. He questions my father saying that if you do not do that you will either lose the child or you yourself due to depression. Who knows you would be known because of your child, Nathan convinced my father.
In the meantime as time passes by, I complete my graduation too, and become a topper in the Open University. I apply for Jobs stating my Gender and the results were the same everywhere as the acceptance has not come yet perhaps. I thought that this is a good opportunity to stand on my self and prove to the world what I am.
I convince my father of starting a tailoring shop, no woman, ventured to come to my shop, Nathan suggests to me to figure out stitching on contract with some tailors initially. The engine starts running on this basis. I start earning about 30 to 40 rupees a day.
My mind goes agitated, and when ever I go with my father in an auto in the neighbor hood I see a lot people of my kind loitering in the streets and mostly begging clapping their hands as if they have nothing else to do in life, or is that the society has made them fit only for that. I started questioning myself, how do I bring this change. I started convincing one or two to follow my footsteps, but the biggest problem, which I thought was that the mental framework once its changed getting back to pride of living was the most difficult choice as you have already put yourself to shame and whatever worse could happen as already happened and begging and prostitution becomes the easy source of living however demeaning it could be while there could be days when you starve too. In addition to that the long tradition of uppish dressing with coloured lips was continuing even today when you see them at the signals.
I ask my father if he can spare a few thousands of rupees, as I think I need to first prove a point , I go and convince the system that they can have a good living too as much as others in the locality. I felt that the best way to get into things which are noticeable to society at large. I convinced a few of my gender in the Oberoi signal to join hands with me for a social cause and said I would pay Rs100 everyday and asked them to come early in the morning. We took up mass cleaning activities of the society at large, and everyday even before people used to wake up the streets used to become clean. There were pain pockets were there were no traffic signal but Jam was a usual occurrence, we started placing people of my Gender to regulate the same. Slowly the message started spreading Radha and her people have started doing community service around. Life moved on over the years, Malad in Mumbai looked the cleanest in the city, and as things became noticeable I thought of starting a big tailoring centre where people can willingly come and do the needful. There were some good Samaritans in the society through whom we could get the school uniform orders too. We started with about 6 people with great difficulty, I was happy to see that in the three years time I could grow this to a 100 odd people. I was still incapacitated to develop the town, as for every thing I had to fight the system out.
One day at dawn, when the Sun was yet to show its brightness, I decided to contest elections which was an year and half away. I thought this is the only way I would perhaps change the system as well as get acceptance from public at large on the third gender. I approached every other political party and their leaders, many a times I was put to shame there too. I start working on my own, I need to cover thousands of households and lakhs of people and time was very short. I thought I will not wait for next 1.5 years I plan it well as I did not have either time, money or manpower. I had these 100 of them who trusted and a few friends of Nathan and my father, all in all we were about 150 people. We committed ourselves that what we will reach out individual in the old traditional way. We ensured that every doorstep was touch based with one of us. Even before the nomination was filed every one in the locality had known that Radha is contesting elections and she was a third Gender. Some listened, some did not, some doors were shut too, some praised some mocked and some giggled too. No cut outs, no meetings, it just that we published our pamphlets every quarter of what we are and what we have done, and one in the last month prior to the election. We were keeping fingers crossed. But this city was a lovely city I felt, as it did not have any qualm of the people who are around, that way it gave us all the freedom to do whatever we decided to do. I was fighting the election against various stalwarts, and the sitting MLA was a two times winner too from one of the largest parties.
As I was brooding about the past, I get a call from the place of counting, congrats Radha you have won. In a second I see a News flashing in the channel, The Third Gender comes into the mainstream politics, Radha elected as a representative in Malad E constituency with a 60% vote share. They hail Indian Democratic system and how good people accept each other. I realize Gender was just in my mind, people want good people around irrespective of what Gender they are, its just that we need to take the first step ahead especially when we have to break a custom prevailing for over centuries.