BWW Star: Us and Them

The afternoon was rather unremarkable. Dry. It was only to be made worse with a trip to the loud and congested vegetable market. I was already on edge about walking through the lanes because of my unexplained and uncontrollable phobia of fish (dead or alive). There was a fish stall I had to pass by, which I knew would be open this time of the day, and I was terrified I would find some remnant of a fin or head somewhere on the ground, guaranteeing an urge to ungracefully bring forth the contents of my previous meal. I just hated fish; and never missed cursing evolution for this monstrosity. Those eyes, that gaping mouth, and the crazy silvery scales! How could anything be this horrifying!

I gulped and forayed into the lane leading to the market, fear coursing through me. I kept my eyes as straight as I could, lest I accidentally looked at the dead beasts. “Pretend they don’t exist. Look ahead”, I told myself.

Focussed as I was on keeping my mind away from the dead fish, I caught a glimpse of a hijra standing ahead of me. Given that I find myself to be a misfit almost everywhere I go, my heart always goes out to anyone who might be living on the fringes of our society. I never felt pity, only a faint sense of brotherhood. What was remarkable about her was that though it was the middle of an unremarkable day in the middle of a most unremarkable place, she had found a reason to adorn herself with flowers and apply the most elaborate makeup. Her face was aglow with a turmeric hue, her dark eyes drawn out elaborately with kajal and her lips finished off with a deep red lipstick. All this to just go about a rather mundane task in a vegetable market. This silent gilded visage was both a hushed and loud celebration of who she was; a private ceremony held in public view for none other than herself.

And why was she celebrating who she was?

I wondered at the journey that must have led her to this point. Fraught with heartache, I’m sure. Perhaps, a choice between the love of others and her love of herself? Would (do?) I have had the courage to make the same triumphant choice as her?

Due to a mere careless stroke of fate, her life had to be defined by the battle to just simply be able to state who she was. What lay underneath that pain? Have we misplaced a singer, poet, teacher, mathematician or physicist?

The signature hand-clap we associate with eunuchs suddenly signified something more to me. It’s a symbol of defiance: if you don’t accept me. I accept me”. Their battle with themselves is over. Who cares about the world after that?

I left the market, silent and suspended in the moment, gazing absently at the red traffic light. Another hijra walked to a motorist. I noticed he kept his eyes as straight as he could, lest he accidentally looked at her. I was familiar with what he was doing. I could almost hear his thoughts, “Pretend they don’t exist. Look ahead.”

Fear finished his tango with an exultant flourish.

BWW Star
The dream of every writer is to be read. And to be read and appreciated by as many people as possible. BWW makes that dream a reality.

BWW Star is a writer who has worked with us at BWW and whose work amused, moved, inspired, and/or made a difference in our lives. We are sure you will enjoy and be encouraging too. :)

BWW is proud to present our Star – Pallavi Yadalam. Pallavi participated in our City Writes workshop in October, 2011

Pallavi in her own words

Pallavi Yadalam

Pallavi Yadalam

I’m probably best described as someone with “an infinite appetite for distraction”(borrowed lines but so perfect). My mother thinks I have left-over tendencies from a previous life as a squirrel. And I couldn’t agree more.

My memory has a very random and seemingly uncontrollable M.O. I will remember some strange line someone said or shoes someone might have worn 3 years back, but have no recollection of what I did the day before.

My interests form a spectrum of spirituality, shoes, the world economy, photography, trivia, music, food, and unsuccessful attempts at learning to swim.

Make me laugh and I am your BFF.

I have one motto which is the anchor to my chaos – Don’t be evil.

Encourage our BWW Star
Liked what you read?

Life as a eunuch or hijra as they are called in India, is not easy. In this narrative Pallavi states it as she sees it. Seeing hijras beg at traffic signals is a common sight in Bangalore. How do you feel about misfits in society? Is Pallavi correct? Have we really misplaced a singer, poet, teacher, mathematician or physicist by not accepting their identities? Encourage Pallavi. Leave a comment.  🙂

About bangalorewritersworkshop

Bangalore Writers Workshop (BWW) is interested in fostering the creative mind, encouraging a community, and making writers aware of who they are as creators of text. Bangalore Writers Workshop is a unique, effective, and interactive method of bringing a group of writers together and allowing them to study the craft of writing while simultaneously receiving constructive feedback on their own work. BWW uses the workshop method. We run intensive creative writing workshops with small groups in Bangalore. Our groups are fuelled by passion and the creative energy of people with diverse life experiences. Find out more on our website. www.
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14 Responses to BWW Star: Us and Them

  1. anon says:

    I might be wrong here..i find the write up contradictory. Your bring forth an understanding and acceptance of hijras , only to end the write up by comparing your fear of fishes to the fear of the idea to point out that the fear of hijras is as irrational as your fear of fishes.. Doesn’t the fear of hijra run deeper than irrationality ?

    • Pallavi says:

      The idea was to point out the irrationality of fear here. My description of the things I find absolutely hideous about fish is almost comic to someone who doesn’t have the same fear, but it is at the same time very real and scary to me. Perhaps if society stepped out of the shadow of fear, maybe they will be able to see Hijras in a different light?
      Unless required, no person will want to confront their fear. No matter what the object of fear is.

      • Pallavi says:

        And does it run deeper? Who knows? Other than a visual difference, I don’t see anything in terms of their quality as human beings, as different from us. So is there a need for it to run deeper at all?

        • Anon says:

          Pallavi , I somehow believe the fear of Hijra’s in south asian society is something deeper than the fear induced by the apparent visual difference. Does it lead us to the realm of unknown?. The unknown being Hijra’s here? What is known (excluding a motley bunch) is an unfortunate baggage of misinformation. And maybe it is this misinformation which induces the fear far deeper than the one caused by visual difference.

          However, I guess am digressing here. As the article was definitely not intended to be a serious piece on gender issues. Keep posting !
          Anon ( known anon ?)

  2. Hey Pallavi, got this link from Purvaja. I love the way you brought together the two “fears” – subtle and hard-hitting. Keep writing! Do you have a blog?

  3. CSRS RAGHAVAN says:

    Experience felt in a few seconds is well naratted in a few hundred words !

    …..but just to add in this day and age of fake ‘Hijras’, it must have taken a good eye to spot a real one without which the emotive narration would have not been possible.

  4. Lovely piece, Pallavi. The unfortunate truth is that society is brutal – non-conformers of any kind will only find themselves alienated completely. Perhaps, it is a better place to be – being yourself rather than a hypocrite trying to fit in all the time?

    • Pallavi says:

      Thanks!! 🙂 And yes, I think the truth is that once people accept themselves, acceptance from others almost comes about as a natural consequence. Normalcy is more of an illusion than society would like to admit!

  5. Ullas Marar says:

    I have never really understood the phobia we have of them. Why are they different from us anyway? Why a hijra in the mainstream should be an exception and not the rule, baffles me. All they need is a chance.

    A very good piece, Pallavi 🙂

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