Voices of Bengaluru-1

- An Untold Story


Pondering about my first assignment as a media student, I walked through the streets with a mind wandering for interesting stories. The very basic question of how to look out for stories popped in my mind. Do I have to write about an event just like everybody else or do I have to cover a news story like a journalist on field would do? Can I go to the Kalpalli Cemetery and write a spooky feature story on that? But I desperately wanted to cover a crime story. But where do I find it? As an 18-year old, with no proper backup, I did not want to risk my life. 
That was until I met “her”. Yes !! I prefer calling her a “she” because she feels dignified when I do so. Swathi, the protagonist of this feature story is a transgender. As a 30-year old, she has encountered all the problems a transgender faces in our country. Discriminated by her own family, she left her home in Tamil Nadu and came to Bangalore in 2005. Facing stigma and inequality, she underwent the sex reassignment surgery with a lot of mental trauma.

Swathi, in her struggle for a decent living. Photo credit : Anupama S

Prone to harassment and bullying by common people in her day-to-day life, she says, “It requires a lot of mental strength to withstand all the misbehavior I have to face. Our presence in a public arena such as a theater or even inside a bus, raises the eyebrows of others. The comments that we are subjected to are very painful. Personally, abandoned by my own family, I have not had a peaceful life for the last 20 years. I have not had a friend to share my feelings with. I have not been able to seek a solution for my unending tears since I know I am not going to get one anyway” she moved to tears. My attempt to console her failed. 
 “The way a few men talk to us with a perverted mind hurts us. Not all transgenders are involved in sex work. The reason you find some of us on roads, shops, railway stations and public places, asking for money, is because we are unemployed. The government has not taken any potential action to provide us with jobs despite our repeated petitions. But not all of us are begging on streets.

If you did not know, Kalki Subramaniam was the first transgender to feature on the silver screen, as the protagonist of the film, “Narthagi”. Padmini Prakash was the first transgender news anchor. Do you know them ? “ she questioned me. I nodded my head. “ I have done 2 documentaries too, for college students in Chennai ; they bagged the first prize “ she said. I could sense the genuine feeling of pride in her voice. 
 The meeting ended with that happy note. While I was about to move, she held my hand “ May God bless you in all your future endeavors !! You could contact me whenever you want. Consider me as your sister. “ I smiled and started my journey home with a heavy heart. I wanted to write a crime story. And I ended up writing one, the crime being “the murder of our own conscience and the feelings of our fellow human beings, forget about man or woman”. 
 I pledged to work for the upliftment of the third gender — THE TRANSGENDERS.

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