On no man or woman’s land

Every time I observe the hijras (eunuchs) come by the bakery (with a very British name, McRennet) near my office, I feel uncomfortable. I am strangely fascinated by them*. They use their trademark clapping style to announce their arrival. The exaggerated swing of their slim hips, the straight unsmiling faces, their flashy saris, their elevated bouffants or long braids, their loud manners, their cuss words are all foreign to me. Added to it, is the persistent fear of being harmed. It’s social conditioning, I am aware and yet so deep and entrenchant that even though my rational mind screams there is no reason to be afraid, a strange panic grips me. Unsure of how to react and having observed people staring at them (a total no no in my dictionary), I behave as normally as I possibly can even though I am intensely aware of their presence. I have seen men ogle, flinch, flirt, laugh, or even jump out of the way. (What is it that prompts such extreme reactions?) I just don’t catch their eye. It’s almost as if I am ashamed that I am that which they aspire to be, a woman both from inside and outside. I am lucky that my body is in harmony with my mind. And my conflicts are not played out on my body but in my mind. They, on the other hand, seem to be caught in a strange no man/woman’s land. Sexual identity is such an integral part of our psyche and a duality such as male/female has been such a staple of the collective consciousness that a third non conformist gender seems to have no space at all. So much so that if one of the third gender hosts a talk show, or becomes a famous Bharatanatyam dancer, or wins an election, immediately it’s news. Sometimes, the only space they seem to have is the space in the media.


* The use of I/they throughout the post is not to show difference or indicate a polarization but for reference.


2 thoughts on “On no man or woman’s land

  1. And we all know why most of them get media attention. It’s unfortunate the way they try to sell pieces of human lives using various media.

    Your post is so true. It’s one thing to be fully aware they won’t harm (I hope every time) but why is it that we become so conscious of their arrival anywhere? At least I do. I feel like a pretentious intellectual when I try and hide it.

    I am leaving here with many uncomfortable questions from this page yet again. Thanks for writing this post. Next time I would like to try to be a genuine human being should a situation arise and not walk away nonchalantly, fully aware of things concealed.

    1. R, it was difficult to write this post because I was actually putting myself out there, saying something very personal. So, thanks! 🙂

      I don’t know why I am so conscious of them! I always thought it was because I was a woman but if they make you uncomfortable then I am not so sure anymore. Why do you feel like a pretentious intellectual?

      Yes, these are taboo topics outside the glare of the media and academia. That is why perhaps we are uncomfortable. Not walking way is a good place to start! I wonder what I will do. I am still not sure.

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