A. Revathi's book is not just a vivid account of a hijra's life, it sends out a strong message to the society at large
Encapsulating the life of a hijra, the pain and anguish which is an integral part of the everyday experience of the fraternity's members, is A. Revathi's autobiographical book “The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story” (Penguin India/Rs.299) Originally written in Tamil, it has been translated into English by V. Geetha, a writer and social activist. Being a hijra herself, Revathi knows this life inside out.
Confessing to having been marginalised Revathi, who was born as Doraiswamy, a male, says “This book is about my everyday experience of discrimination, ridicule, and pain, it is also about my endurance and my joys and moreover it intends to introduce to the readers the lives of hijras, their distinct culture, and their dreams and desires”. Prior to this, two hijras have written books about their life in Tamil, Priya Babu's “Naan Saravanan Alla” (2007) and Vidya's “I am Vidya” 2008.
The versatile Revathi has been working with Bengaluru-based sexuality rights organisation, Sangama, for over nine years and has also acted in a Tamil movie “Thenavattu”.
“It seems that there is nothing for us hijras to do but sex work and begging. We are not accepted by our families, thus there lie many dreams and desires buried inside many more talented people. I wish to help them through this. I hope larger changes can be achieved,” says Revathi who was in town recently.
“It has been almost 10 years that I am associated with Sangama. For long we have been working for the rights of sexual minorities. But still we can't find a house to live in, we are still overcharged by autorickshaws, we can't stand on the road and we are still stared at by people. Some men touch us, others shout and hoot from distance. I feel dismayed and wonder if there would ever be a way for us to live with dignity and make a decent living.” Asked about her views on the significant steps taken like Article 377 by the government, she expresses some relief but in the same breath adds, “The people around the world are changing, there is greater realisation for the rights of transgenders but here there is not much awareness still. The government should sensitise the people. They should not just make rules but also look into their proper implementation”.
Despite the difficulties, the braveheart hasn't lost hope. “I will be happy if this book would be available in schools and colleges and may be prescribed as a textbook at some stage. I will continue this battle for our rights and would continue writing”.