Friday, 30 November, 2007

Kaivalya's First Event!

This definitely was important, after all the first event of Kaivalya was being held in LSR and the responsibility of making it work was on our shoulders. My first reaction – excitement, soon followed by incredulity with the realization that the Project Head was going to be out of town and finally moved to being amazed at the jolting effect of the two.

Not many things in college can pull me out of my year long stupor –a wonderful aftereffect of 55 minutes of insufferable, incessant noises we are subjected to in classrooms by certain individuals on a daily basis! Preparation begins with full force; all seems to be in order, just one tiny itsy-bitsy harmless question - will there be any audience???

For the first time in my life I hoped that my fate was not shared by anyone in LSR- in short girls do not find themselves staring at posters, getting excited at the prospect of learning about something interesting (for a change) and finally realizing, oh! The event happened last to last to last week! I have to stop sleep walking in the corridors! This called for immediate action - posters (that were visible to the sleep deprived also!), along with spreading the word, polite requests in classrooms and threat filled messages to friends.

I’m sure those who have lived in hostels or pgs’ would agree and understand the phenomenon of food fixation - eat anything and everything edible, anywhere or anytime - the purpose of our lives is to eat! On 21st November at 12:45 pm(lunch break), there was going to be a clash of the titans, the inquisitive mind v/s the growling stomach and I wished dearly that the former would win.

And then it happened, girls started pouring in; one after the other, inquiring if this was The YP event they had heard about. Three grinning faces could be seen answering queries, welcoming girls and as soon as the all the seats were filled, we started the presentation. Introductions- TYPF, Kaivalya, Naz foundation and the guest speakers Pinaki & Muskaan. I felt the atmosphere of the room was a mixture of emotions that have seldom coexisted; there was inquisitiveness, fear, prejudices, maybe even repulsion to some extent but above all there was openness.

I felt that those present in the room were open to learning and sharing, to venturing into territory unknown to them, a willingness to put aside their pre conceived notions and were above all, open to the idea of change within themselves.

I am of the belief that personal touch can change perception on many levels.

The presence of Muskaan and Pinaki had a huge impact on the audience, the confidence with which they carried themselves, undaunted by the crowd, stares or questions, was unparalleled, and yes the realization that they are kinnars. Along with everybody in the room, I was pleasantly surprised at the completely new way in which they presented themselves.

We create stereotypes because it’s too taxing for the brain to understand every individual and we find it easier to group them as the same. At the end of the day, if we keep the image of hijras in our mind as those of people who clap their hands and create nothing but nuisance, won’t it just be easier to understand them?

Isn’t that what we’ve always thought and believed? This event truly took a brave step towards breaking this stereotype.

In some ways I felt they were more assured of their own identity than most of us in that room.

Would we be able to adequately explain if we were ever asked “What are you?” Here were two individuals who knew exactly what their sexuality, origin, history, culture, biological conditioning, social standing, weaknesses and strengths were. It made me think - what do we know about ourselves? At maximum, just about enough to decide whether we want to sleep or eat in the next two hours maybe. The rest is so largely defined by society and we accept those definitions blindly.

To stand in front of 85 women, explaining that they also desire to be female yet have a different identity, takes courage.

Coming back to the session, all kinds of questions were asked, some personal, others general, leading us all towards a clearer picture. Even when the session ended women chose to interact with Pinaki and Muskaan on a more personal level, a voluntary physical proximity I had never experienced before. I felt somewhere there was admiration hidden in everyone’s eyes for them.

We talk about strength of character, how very rare and how very honorable it is in today’s world. If only these were not mere words to adorn character certificates and letters of recommendation, if only we looked deeper into the meaning we would discover Muskaan, Pinaki and many others like them as truly being virtuous. What I gathered from this session was that they do not want sympathy, only acceptance and space to lead a life with dignity.

Finally the bell rings at 2:10pm, time for the official 100 meter sprint in the corridor, and beating the opponent into giving me my well deserved attendance and 55 minutes of back bench sleeping!

- Roshni.

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