One of a Kind – Shaheen Akhtar

I gave a twenty rupee note to the rickshaw puller and quickly got off. So busy were the streets that I matched my steps with the other pedestrians and shifted to the other side of the road. Waiting for the bus to arrive, I soon got engrossed with my cell phone, choosing a ‘Like’ or a ‘Comment’ option very often as a number of facebook  notifications continued to pop up my home screen. I almost lost track of my surroundings but before I could even regain my senses, the bus was gone. So foolish of me to do that!

 

It was a bright Tuesday morning and the scorching sun nearly devoured me from head to toe. I however managed to cover my arm with the red dupatta and the cotton kurti I wore on comforted me from sweating. People and vehicles crowded the streets while the vendors kept themselves to the edge of the road, selling their commodities. Not to miss a second time, I hurriedly got into a local bus and took the window seat in the left row, probably a row for the gents. Had I chosen the women’s row, the glaring morning sun would have blurred my vision. The bus barely had any passengers, with me occupying a seat in the third row, a man to the first, another to the back seats while the driver and the conductor were adjusting themselves in their respective positions. As the vehicle took speed through the smooth tracks of the Guwahati highway, the empty seats were gradually filled up. Though the hot wind blew my burgundy hair across my face, it felt nice to me. My lips felt dry, so I grabbed my lipstick out of my pouch and layered another stroke of my red rouge shade on my lips. Keeping the stuff back into the pouch, I opened the camera on my phone and turned it into the selfie mode to have a look at my make-up, when I felt a sudden jerk as someone occupied the empty seat next to me. I was gobsmacked.  “Holy shit! What was that! A transgender sat next to me. What on earth did make me choose this particular seat when the rest were empty?” Well, this would be the obvious reaction that anyone would probably have. Being honest I too, had this for a fraction of seconds but then I recalled that I do consider them as one of a human kind ever since they were known to me.

 

There were two of them dressed in glittered sarees and gaudy make-up shown all over their face. The one sitting next to me had his hair tied up to a pony tail. He wore a red lipstick with an over-powdered face and his eyebrows were neatly threaded. Shit! His eyebrows were even better than mine. Being my first encounter, my heart started to beat at turbo speed, so I kept myself stuck to the brim of the window, making space for him as much as I could. “Was it me who overreacted, for he seemed the least bothered to face me and see who was he sitting with.” – An inner voice spoke to me. When I managed to sit straight, myself being on a sleeveless garment, my upper arm accidently touched his. I don’t know what triggered in me but tingles of discomfort ran up my body. With all my courage, I tried reading his reaction through the corner of my eye but surprised was I to find him cheerfully talking to his fellow friend. The bus came to a halt and I saw the transgenders get off, talking loud and clapping hands in an unique manner along the huddled highway roads of Jalukbari; their most usual activity by which they are often known in the public.

 

My seat was left empty once again but this time thoughts crowded my mind. They too are a part of the society we breathe in, then why are they living a secluded existence? Are they actually harmful or we provoke them to be one? A many thoughts disturbed my state of mind. Pain signed my heart at the thought of it since deep within me, I do pity them because of the known fact that ‘transgenders are born, not made.’ My phone beeped and a message popped up in my whats app inbox, “Hey sis, by what time are you reaching home? We are waiting. Come soon.” I noticed a green signboard with the stoppage name flickering on it, from a distance. The mid-day glaze of the sun rays on the signboard literally made it seem so.  I grasped my belongings and while getting off from the bus replied my cousin back, “On your way home dear. Something had met my eyes today of which I had so far known a part but now, I see things clearly.”

 

Shaheen Akhtar

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