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Afshan S. Khan
Sunday, August 19, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

Rawalpindi

 

Purse tucked in hand, wigs or hair pieces perched on heads, wearing latest styled tailored clothes, pointed heels and flaunting full make up in the scorching heat, these fashion savvy ‘she males/eunuchs’ trot the crowded streets of Saddar in search of some money that the Eid shoppers could spare for them.

 

‘The News’ got hold of three ‘she males’ and asked what do they do on Eid and how do they celebrate this ritual at all.

 

‘Saima the guru’ among Muskan and Sidra were keen to share their experience of this auspicious day with this scribe.

 

“Eid is a big day for every one but for us it’s not less than a mourning day,” she said, “the day starts with the tears in our eyes when everyone is depressed that they cannot go and meet their loved ones. We cannot go and meet our biological parents, brothers and sisters or relatives because they have disowned us for our abnormal behaviour and inclination towards female gender. Since childhood, we are so comfortable playing with girls and their dolls and no inclination towards boys interests like cricket, football etc. Our abnormal/psychological behaviour compels us to abandon our beloved parents and find solace in our community who supports our behaviours and considers it normal. Even our own class fellows and friends asks us to run from our house and join the she male community. We have ‘gurus’ and ‘chailas’ who are just like our parents, siblings and children respectively, they become our world,” she said.

 

Our Eid day starts visiting our loved one in the graveyard who have expired. “The irony is that we cannot visit them in the morning, when everyone is visiting their loved ones, so we have to wait till everyone is gone from the graveyard, because we cannot afford to get ridiculed while visiting graveyard and specially we don’t want to expose the person on whose grave we visit. It’s the toughest time for us. Though we wear bangles and put on ‘mehndi and new clothes on Eid, but our hearts are drenched with sorrow,” she said.

 

We see stalls/media campaigns of famous hospitals, NGOs, philanthropic organisations for the donations of zakat, charity, fitrana in Ramazan and Eid but have you ever seen our stall or organisations requesting charity for us? We are left on our own at the mercy of the charity given to us, we don’t have any resources except to rely on the alms given to us by people. If we ask twenty people in a row then only one or two give us Rs5 or 10, but sometimes people are generous enough to give us more than that. Besides we are used to the ridiculous behaviour being meted out to us, and sometimes we are so hurt by this behaviour that we don’t come on streets for two or three days and confine ourselves in our bedrooms. In the crowded locality of Nasirabad, I have a room with no gas and no water facility, she said.

 

We keep fast and after breaking fast we come on streets in anticipation of alms from generous public. If they can spend thousands and thousands of rupees on their personal shopping, they can surely spare some rupees for us too. We have no source of income except for begging, it is heartening to see that at least the government has started registering us through Nadra and our ID cards are being made. But as long as jobs are concerned, no government official contacted us for recovery of loans as pledged by the government earlier. We have no vocational training schools exclusively for us, we cannot go to regular vocational centres for obvious reasons. I would suggest that like disabled people and minorities have special quotas in government/semi-government jobs, we should also have a quota for us with less terms and conditions, so at least, there is some alternate income for us. If we get that kind of support from government why would be on streets begging? The police that are deployed in the market irks us but at least they don’t lock us in police station. They just warn us of the consequences and then they leave us.

 

Our ‘guru’ Almas Bobby encourages us at all levels and takes care of us like her children and never asks commission from our share, we highly acknowledge her services for us. On Eid day either we visit her or wish her Eid Mubarak. Since we have divided the areas among ourselves so there is no fight among us.

 

“On Eid days, just like everyone goes to park to enjoy themselves, we cannot go to park to enjoy because youngsters picks on us and makes our life miserable so we stay at our homes. We cook ‘siwayyan’ or kheer’ on our own and then eat. Nobody sends us any Eid delicacies and nobody accepts ‘kheer’ cooked by us and if we ever send ‘kheer’ to anyone in our neighbourhood, the plates are returned as it is, nobody wants any good will gestures from us. Only we understand our pain which nobody can ever understand,” Saima said.

 

Saima said, “we consider ourselves as the people from Showbiz and mostly keep the names of the famous film actresses and dramas. We copy the latest styles from Saddar and from TV dramas and then ask tailors to copy for us. I even buy clothes for my niece/nephew and gift them clothes on Eid without the knowledge of my brother-in-law. I support her financially, since I don’t have children of my own so I consider her children as mine.

 

Old age is dreadful for us because no one except for devoted ‘chilas’ look after us. “We dread our old age, because what we earn, we eat and there is no savings, property

 

etc.” she said “but if I ever have enough money I would definitely open up a boutique of my own, hiring tailors

 

and then would stitch my designs but its a dream, too good to be true,” she said hopelessly trying to hide tears in her moist eyes.