Theatre

The life of a hijra

The search for an identity Hijra speaks of the conflict of body and mind of transgenders, who are further traumatised by the way the world looks at them. Photo: K. Ananthan  

It was an evening of awareness. And Hijra minced no words as it led the audience inside the dark world of transgenders. A world of insecurities, desires, crushing disappointments and, sometimes, small joys.

Hopefully, the audience that stayed on at PSG auditorium went back home with a change in attitude towards transgenders.

The two-hour play, directed by Saggherr Loadhii, was about the choices that two transgenders, Dimple and Kiran, make.

They meet when Dimple chases away a man who is teasing Kiran. Dimple, who is abandoned by her family, has moved into a home run by hijras Farida aka Begum, Chanda, Roza, Shabbo, Kareena and Pinky. Dimple decides to undergo nirvana (castration); she wants to see a woman when she looks at herself in a mirror.

Dance-and-sari-loving Kiran also has a mother who has rejected her. She leaves home and lives with the transgender family, but is plagued by doubts. What is it that will make her a woman? Is it removing a body part? Wearing a sari? “Whatever I do, my breasts will never yield milk, my womb will always remain barren. So, what makes me a woman?” she asks Farida.

Farida, who has remained loyal to her man, tells her that their life is all about compromises, and that becoming a woman is in the mind. “Am I not a mother? I love you all like a mother,” she tells her. Finally, she sends Kiran back home telling her that if she is still not accepted there, she can return here. Kiran’s mother, in the meanwhile, realises she cannot live without Kiran. They reconcile and Kiran is smiling because she now goes sari shopping with her mother.

Dimple, on the other hand, is distraught after the surgery she had to become a woman. She did it for her man but now she has lost all desire for sex. Her boyfriend is upset and marries someone else, but later visits her occasionally. Dimple makes her peace with it and continues to live with her new family, wearing a sari, and learning to smile again.

The play also showed slice-of-life moments from a transgender home — their worship of the rooster-riding Bahuchar Mata, their traditions, their dance, the importance of their trademark clapping, their fondness for dressing up, their love lives, their acceptance of the need to sell their bodies to bring home money… A lot of research has gone into the play, and the cast was spot-on, with their body language.

The play, presented by Akanksha Rangabhumi, Pune, sparkled with wit and also shocked with its silent brutality. When the curtains came down, the cast received a standing ovation. Vinu Aram of Shanti Ashram, which presented the play with Power of Youth Hands Trust, hoped that people would take baby steps and change their attitude after watching Hijra. And, most importantly, break the wall of silence that surrounds our understanding of transgenders. Anjali Jain, who was instrumental in bringing the play to the city, just hoped her transgender friends will be better understood and not shunned.

The audience also watched a video that showed assaults transgenders are subjected to — hate crimes, verbal and physical harassment and bullying. One learnt that a shocking 34 per cent of them attempt suicide. Two transgenders from the city also shared their stories. Tasleem, who once spent 11 days hungry in front of the Government Hospital, now runs a catering unit that supplies food to feed the abandoned old; Sangeetha works to better the lives of others like her.

(Proceeds from the play will be used to set up a catering unit for transgenders.)

Cast and crew

Writer-Director and Roza: Saggherr Loadhii

Farida: Zameer Kamble

Kiran: Santosh Mahadeo

Dimple: Mayur Shitole

Pinky: Kunal Punekar

Shabbo: Amol Mathe

Kiran’s mother: Prachi Sahastrabuddhe

Chanda: Satish Sandbhor

Kareena: Vikas Adhale



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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 8:26:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/play-hijra-served-up-some-brutal-truths-about-the-life-of-transgenders/article6608140.ece

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