“Shreya come inside. How many times does everyone has to tell you that you are not allowed to talk with that person.” said Priyanka while forcefully taking Shreya inside their home from the street where she was playing badminton with her friends from the neighborhood. It was a lovely evening with nice wind blowing, which usually doesn’t happen in the month of June.
While sobbing Shreya ran towards her mother’s workshop in the backyard of their home, where she was busy giving final touch to her paintings for upcoming exhibition at the Punjab Kala Bhavan,Chandigarh on the theme of ‘Role of LGBTQ+ in society’.
“Mummy, why do you invite Prinka bhua to stay at our home during summer holidays. You know na she is so rude and annoying. She brought me in from the street just because I said Satshriakal to gunga uncle. What is so wrong in this?” said Shreya to her mother who was listening to her calmly beside wiping tears from her face.
She continued speaking in her cute voice, “He is very nice and always give candies to all of us. Today also after I said Satshriakal to him, he started giving Alpenliebe to all of us from his jhola, but bhua had even thrown it away after snatching it from me. Even biji was also shouting from living room at me for not following her strict instruction of staying away from gunga.”
“My dear Shona, first of all stop weeping. I know you all admire him and even he loves you all, but our society is stone hearted towards them for no fault of theirs.”
“But, why mum? Why everyone hates him?”, enquired Shreya because she was just nine years old at that time and completely unaware of terms like LGBTQ. For her, Gunga a deaf and dumb transgender living on the outskirts of their village was as human as her family and friends.
‘Because beta, normally people don’t like them and are adamant on having any friendly connection with them.’
‘Them. Who them?’
‘I am talking about your gunga uncle and people like him. They are born different from us. LGBTQ is what they are being broadly defined as.’
‘Why they are born different from us? And what is this L..gbt..’
‘Sometimes they are created differently by God, while few of them realise the difference during their teenage years. LGBTQ consists of a plethora of people who are different from the male and female,sometimes physically and sometimes due to their different nature. Like when a girl wants to live her life with a girl forever.’
Shreya not being able to understand what her mother was saying, asked her “‘But, what is wrong in this mummy? Why everyone like bhua,biji hates them?”
‘They don’t hate them for some reason, but it’s in their behaviour and beliefs to maintain a distance from them except on few occasions like marriages, a child birth.You are still young to understand all these things, but I am proud of you for always greeting Gunga with due respect. Don’t worry you can meet him tomorrow at Riddhi’s home as they are organising a gathering on the occasion of the homecoming of her baby brother and Gunga is also going to come.’
Shreya now relaxed and happy to be able to meet him tomorrow went to her home, while her mother starts reminiscing of the time when Gunga had arrived to give blessings on the birth of her first child, a baby boy, Sukhdeep. She remembered how a group of her friends from her office said a lot of bad things about Gunga as he was dancing happily wearing a salwar suit and dupatta on his head. For them it was hard to digest the fact that a person like Gunga not belonging to the usual strata of male, female and even rejected by society most of the time is having no qualms about his identity.
Moreover, when Rajdeep her husband informed her friends that Gunga is literate and is even teaching the younger members of his community,so that they can have a much better life and can stand on their own feet. They all realised there mistake and apologized for their misconduct, while Gunga as usual blessed them in his own way by laying his hands on their head along with giving fruits from his jhola.
Shreya along with her mother, bhua and biji went to Ruhee’s home for the function. Ruhee, daughter of Mrs. & Mr. Rishabh, was her best friend and next door neighbor as well. They were having a gala time there enjoying the lip-smacking dishes and traditional songs, while waiting for the function to begin which will happen only after the mandatory dance by Gunga and his friends.
When it’s been more than an hour and Gunga has still not arrived though all his friends had come, Rishabh and his friends went to his home only to find that Gunga had died peacefully leaving this world full of biases for he deserves a place much better than this, but he left behind him a legacy of his own for he was always happy and proud of the way he was born without having any qualms against nature and God for creating him as a transgender. He will live through the smiles he shared and blessings that he bestowed on all of us.
A fortnight after Gunga’s death, Shreya’s mother had won the first prize for one of her paintings titled ‘Gunga’ during the event on ‘Role of LGBTQ+ in society’. Even during her speech, she was teary eyed while narrating about the inspiration behind her painting.
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