Hijras or the third genders have always been a matter of inquisitiveness and fear for me since childhood. I can recall that I grew up witnessing them as they roam the busy marketplaces in groups, terrorizing travellers in train hustling for ten or a hundred rupees. With manlike voice shouting cuss words and meeting their palms in the trademark clap, they prey on credulous passersby, who will part with their cash sooner than be treated to the sight of the group collectively lifting up their saris and flashing castrated genital areas right in their faces.
This morning while I was busy doing some household chores, I heard some noisy disturbance downstairs. I hurriedly rushed to my balcony to peep outside. Three manlike structures draped in colourful sarees and ill-fitted blouses, caked in cheap rouge and lipstick, wearing abundant gold plated shoddy jewellery were waiting outside my landlord’s house to bless the newborn. They created a commotion outside the house and danced with great fanfare. People from the neighbourhood started gathering around them addressing them ‘Maata ji ashirwaad karo ‘ As the tradition says, their visits are regarded auspicious on such occasions as it is believed that Hijras possess mystical powers, and their blessings – and curses – are both considered potent. They sing and dance and create a commotion outside the house until the mother has allowed them to look at the baby. Once they have blessed the child they demand absonant sums of money in lieu of their good wishes. Generally nobody wants to be accosted by them, so, people end up giving whatever they charge for their blessing.
Being considered freaks, unable to gain acceptability in society like the rest of us do, just because they are born in a way that is considered abnormal, these people end up becoming beggars, or enter into prostitution to keep up with their lives. They stay in areas where outsiders are strictly unwelcome. It is sad, tragic and heart-breaking how some people are born that way and how some of them are converted into Hijras by castrating their genitals.
The life that they are forced to lead, because of the way our society functions, is contradictory in itself.