An unexpected encounter


Photo: google images

It was an unexpected encounter. The first time I saw them was when I was about 5 years old. They were a group of about five/six, but I seem to remember just one of their faces very clearly even to this date. There was something about that one person. I remember the moment I saw her, I was scared and confused. She was tall, fair, huge and very cheerful and I was tiny with a blue frock on. They had just collected some money from one of the houses in my flat. I was walking down the stairs and they were walking up. For a moment I wanted to run back to any house that I found open, but for some reason I stood there feeling a little uneasy. They all were loud, clapping and laughing amongst themselves. And this one lady came and stood right next and her hand-held my wrist. They were firm and I did not dare to move or try taking my hand off. I was about to cry. She smiled, bent down and kissed me on my cheek and said “Bahut sundar ho” (you are very beautiful). The rest were looking at how my face had changed and were smiling. She asked me what my name was and I told her. I smiled then. 

I think my love for them started that very day.

I had always wanted to know this group of people better and closely. And it happened only during my stay in Chennai. I was living alone and I had all the freedom to do whatever I want. So while working in slums I made it a point to find these people and spend time with them. I initiated groups and did a lot of programmes for them and with them. They all had a story to tell and every story was a different one. Sometime later I met this one lady. She was a successful dance teacher and was in love with a man and hoping to get married to him. A very smart, intelligent and determined lady. She was not from a well to do family, she was all by herself, yet she managed to achieve where she wanted to be. She always told me that she had to go through a lot of suffering, but she was stubborn not to give up and that is why she is here today. We have had long conversations, went for a movie, walks and I realized they are just like any other human being. They just want love. I called her Akka (sister) and she very religiously kept in touch and used to call me every now and then. I have a lot of respect for this lady.

The best days of my life till date would always be the time I spent in Chennai. So many experiences, so many encounters, so many lessons, so many people that touched my life in ways that I can never express in words.   

PS: Not sure if I was clear enough on who these people are. These people belong to the so-called ‘third gender’.