The lungful of chilled air acted as a drug infusion, sending his mind and heart into another place, where the agony of a relationship exchanged its place all of a sudden to the red zone receding just below the layer of skin. Suddenly Anand felt a deep urge to close his eyes, stop the motion of the train, and even lie down on the lush green fields of winter he was waving a bitter good-bye constantly. Train journeys are always experiential for him.
Suddenly a strange round of clapping pierced through his own world of calm. " Kuch dede re bhai, chalo nikalo", an man like woman, wearing a yellow saree in a lumpy way printed with blue embroidery covering the body, a handful of vermillion bangles on both hands and kept her face vibrantly painted with makeup and lips with lipstick came before him and charging money from him. Anand felt disgusted as he never liked the daily episode of this unnecessary begging. He thought as if it was on repeat telecast. First, she broke his alluring dream and now her coarse voice damaged his peace of mind.
With utter disgust, he let his rage out saying, "Kyu de de paise? Tum logo ka kuch kaam dhanda nahi hai kya? Why do you guys prey on the daily passengers like us and make an advantage of our politeness? Go and earn something on your own. The Government and the Supreme Court have now permitted you with many schemes. Now get out of my sight, you moron! Such rubbishness!"
That man-like lady raised her eyebrows, kept her hands slightly grasping a slight mass of her waist, stared at him for a minute or two, then with a distorted gesture, continued saying, "Bohot sun liye lecture re. Ab paise de de. Ye jo Govt. aur Supreme Court ke naam pe tune jo dialogues diye woh kuch kaam nahi aata, okay? Agar humko right mil gaya hota to abtak taali bajane wale kam na karte. Chal abhi paise nahi dena tujhe, na de."
Anand was not a man to leave this in one go. He kept on saying, "Aur kitna jhoot bologe tum log? Even govt. has now given you the rights to take education. But no, you guys won't take any advantages and keep on doing such illegal tariffs. Please go."
Now she was blazing in rage, her answer came like this, " Padhne ka mauka ap jese log de tab na? School, college, office sab jagah hum e thokar khane padhte hai. Ye Sabitha ne bohot try kiye hai, taane sunne k shiva aur sabki hasi mazak banne k ilawa kuch nahi mila."
Such words rang like bells, reverted to the walls of the express train and stung Anand a lot. For three years he has been the daily passenger of this route from Dhanbad to Bokaro Steel City. He has been working as a corporate employee in the food industry near Bokaro Steel City. What fell in the abyss of utmost dissolution that he might have not understood the problems of transgenders.
He saw Sabitha turned herself around to other passengers, clapping furiously to everyone, "Paisa de re. Faltu ke natak dekhne ko mil gaya aj to. Bana hua mood kharab kar diye." He witnessed more that one old man also got disturbed and said, "I gave you 10 rupees yesterday, I clearly remember. Stop this nonsense business, you people." Sabitha tackled him too, clearing straight, "Kalke paise se kya aj kya hoga? Agar ap jese educated log bhi gawaaron ki tarah argue karega, to humko khana nahi milega. Mai roz is line se hi jati hai. Ye sab jante hai. Nahi dena hai to chup chap bol do. Puchungi bhi nahi, " and left him too.
Anand felt guilty for getting unnecessarily harsh on her. He had been facing such for so many days and he couldn't make it that why all his anger flung upon his mind today. Meanwhile, the shortest journey of 1 hour and 30minutes came to a gloomy end today and both of them exited from the train.
Anand turned his head around towards Sabitha, and she was now slowly departing from the station, going far away to take an exit. He pressed his lips in repentance and left for his office too.
After a long day in the office and a return journey, he came back exhausted, dehydrated and fully squeezed in excessive pressure in his workplace.
"Sumitra, Sumitra, I've come from the office. Please make a cup of tea. Feeling really exhausted." Anand persuasively said.
Within a minute, Sumitra entered the drawing-room cleaning her hands on a towel. She washed her sweat from her face and with a shimmery smile said, "Just wait a minute, Anand Ji. I'm coming with your tea," and went towards the kitchen.
Even after one and half years of their marriage, Sumitra still calls him with a suffix "Ji". Anand feels sad for it as after forbidding her several times, she hasn't got used to it. And when she remembers her sugary mistake, she makes an innocent face and confesses, " Sorry ji, kaal se pakka nahi hoga ye galati." None can stay pissed off for more than one hour over her sweetness.
After the tea session, he shared almost everything in detail at the dinner table and Sumitra listened carefully like an avid listener. But He didn't utter a single word about which made Anand dwell in extreme opprobrium, his humiliation towards Sabitha.
The next day was completely different from other days. Maybe after that day, Anand's point of view towards this third-gender was going to change upside down.
As usual, he boarded the scheduled train at 8 a.m from the Dhanbad Railway Station and struggled to take his favorite window seat. Though he was not in the plan to attend to his office rather, he took a horrendous plan of following Sabitha towards her residence.
It might sound awkward but Anand took this decision on his mind and he was going to accomplish it with strict determination.
In the mid-week of December, an extremely frosty gust of wind chilled everyone's spine down and there was Anand, whose heart was freezing in fear with the newly made conclusion for today.
As usual, Sabitha boarded the train from the next stage was busy collecting her tariffs. Suddenly her eyes met with Anand, and she hesitatingly ignored him and went away to another berth but Anand kept on gazing at her activities closely. A small glint of guilt peeped through his heart but he tried his best to keep that aside and focus on her.
One and a half hours later, the train reached Bokaro Steel City and both of them got off the train. It wasn't a herculean task for Anand not to let her understand that he was going to stalk as the train halts for 15mints on that stoppage and he got off after 5 minutes of Sabitha.
Sabitha walked with all her pride keeping her head high and Anand at a distance of 3 minutes kept following. Sabitha reached out of the station and took an auto towards GeetaPuri colony and Anand too kept an auto hearing her conversation with the auto wala minutely.
No sooner Sabitha reached GeetaPuri colony and got down from the auto, a horde of tiny children ran towards her and hugged her tightly to shower their utmost love.
Endless happiness could be easily noticed through their eyes.
One of them promptly asked in a pampered voice, "Aunty you were supposed to bring new books today. Have you?"
Another one persuades, "Aunty, I need chocolates. Last week you promised me to bring those foreign chocolates if I score highest in my exam," and promptly showed her scorecard to her and Sabitha kissed on her forehead.
One boy came out breaking the crowd demanded, "I need new clothes. I have started going to school. No more excuses today, aunty."
After hearing one after another, Sabitha told them, "Arrey baccho, shant ho jao. Ap log meri sab kuch ho. I shall fulfill all your wishes, my sweethearts." And she started giving them their needs. They were so happy that they instantly started shouting in joy and giving her several kisses.
"It is such a heart-warming view." Anand thought in his mind from a distance where he was noticing everything sneakingly. His heart swelled with pride, face enlightened with glory and his stereotypical thoughts shattered into pieces. He had never seen such kind views for a long time. He was happy that he was proven wrong. Sabitha, a human being from the transgender community splintered all his inhuman values and brought him to the right track.
He understood how he was seeing everyone and everything from a completely wrong perspective after seeing this side of Sabitha.
He couldn't resist himself from going towards them.
Sabitha's eyes met him.
She got confused and said, "Saheb, idhar ap?"
He said tear-eyed, "I have seen everything from behind. You're so kind Sabitha. You've broken my manly chauvin and brought me to the right track. You are my eye-opener and I can't thank you more."
She smiled and calmly answered, "Aisa nahi hai Saheb. Aplog sayed ek side dekh ke hum logo ko aise sochte ho. But sab bure nahi hote. Meri to jaan basti hai bachon main. I give half of my earnings to the Children NGOs. Baki to ap logo ki meherbani jo zindaagi gujraan kar lete hai. Bas hum ko samaj ke bojh samjhna bandh kar dijiyega. Dhanyawaad."
Anand got extremely elated hearing these words. He said "Thank you, Sabitha. You will be remembered forever. God bless you, dear. Bye."
She waved him Goodbye.
Anand returned back home, completely changed and humbled. A new journey initiated with a new mindset and a new sparkle of knowledge. He was not anymore queueing behind societal sabotage.
'Transgender', this word transferred Anand's thoughts to a completely new world of only positiveness, for now, and forever.