My neice is the result of several prayers – the entire family worshipped almost every god to bless my elder brother and bhabhi with a child. four years into their marriage and bhabhi had not still conceived. Finally, with the blessings of all the gods and one special person, our neice was born on the 8th of january, 2008 – a new year gift to our family. I devote this post to that special person and the related travails.
When brother talked about the problem to his colleagues, someone suggested getting bhabhi the blessings of a hijra. Each such advisor has numerous instances supporting his suggestion; about how someone’s wife became pregnant immediately after she was blessed by a hijra. Although this was very common for us, we didn’t see any problem in trying it for once. may be, it strikes this one time.
A hijra is a eunuch, who we come across very often dancing at public places with their characteristic clapping style. They can be found in abundance at bus stands, railway stations, markets, and near houses that have recently witnessed some good news like marriage, child birth etc.
But that day was different.
The four of us- father, mother, bhabhi and me – went out in search of a eunuch. The summer was at its peak and we decided to leave early in the morning to escape the sun. Bhabhi had to eat nothing until we met the hijra. Mother too didn’t eat anything (she strongly believes that she can win over god through penance). Father and I didn’t feel like eating anything so early in the morning.
ISBT or Kashmere Gate bus depot is the closest from our home- also many eunuchs can be found here. Almost everyday they raid our bus and people have to give them not less that Rs. 10 if they want to save their face.
Thus, Operation-Eunuch began at ISBT.
Since the others would have done little good than increased commotion, I asked them to comfort themselves on a bench while I went looking for a eunuch.
Although I feared talking to a hijra and also there was some embarassment, I decided to take the initiative.
I went to every nook and corner where they are generally found; near the public toilets (they stink), bus stand, and similar other isolated places. But they were nowhere to be seen. On that particular day, the hijras had done a complete disappearing act.
I once spotted a person who resembled a hijra, but didn’t have the guts to ask her. There were no visible symptoms to prove that he was a hijra.
Are they on some kind of a strike? However, to the best of my knowledge, hijras or their association is not striking work; in fact they never have.
After half an hour of futile search, I came back to the place where my parents were sitting. It was already 8 and bhabhi was feeling uneasy with hunger. She was a bit angry when I returned empty-handed. She was pacified only when I informed her about the tight situation.
Since our search was a little weird, we couldn’t also take the help of any other person. Women though are quite adept at handling such situations. Mother quickly gathered information from another lady sitting closeby, about the Kashmere Gate market where several eunuchs stay and can be easily found. The lady looked at us in a strange manner. God knows what mom said to her.
Although I wasn’t sure of finding success, I had no choice. So we headed for our next destination- Kashmere Gate market, majorly known for its auto parts market.
There were many fruit stalls around here and bhabhi started purchasing apples for her fast that fell the next day. she dropped her plans when mother asked to focus on the immediate task at hand. but soon her attention was diverted to nail cutters. Mother decided to ignore her.
Once again, I went out in the search for a eunuch while the others stood near the fruit stalls. Father insisted on coming along.
No luck here too. After spending more than an hour with father, no hijra was found.
It was already 10 and the temperature was rising. Also the place was unclean. So we decided to head for Purani Delhi Railway Station (Old Delhi Railway Station) which again is known to house hundreds of hijras. Don’t believe me? Just check on any of the trains originating from this place and you can find many of them. You will have to cough up as much as Rs 50 to escape their terror. They do embarassing acts. The only way you can escape their terror without any payment is when you are with family or there is a women in your compartment.
Father insisted on taking a platform ticket. He is very finicky about rules.
One seldom visits a railway station except when he/she is travelling by train or receiving people from back home. And here we were for a completely different reason.
Everyone was drained of energy by now. While they relaxed on the bench, I left to unearth the hijras from their cover.
Before starting off with operation eunuch, I decided to make a strategy. Since there are several platforms, I decided that the best way would be to keep moving on the flyover and get down on a particular platform only when I spot a hijra downstairs.
However, the futility of the super strategy was exposed in three rounds of the flyover. I decided that it will be easier that I resume the search on platform number 12, which has the biggest crowd. Something within my mind said that I would surely spot a hijra here. And I did find one.
But the things that followed will be forever remembered.
He (or maybe she) was all alone (they normally operate in groups). I spotted him when he was some 200 metres away from me. From his actions and clothes it was pretty clear that he was a hijra, and I started moving towards him.
I didn’t want to miss this one last hope and I started taking bigger steps now. To my amazement, the hijra too began moving faster. Probably he had spotted me from the corners of his eyes and mistaken me for a police wallah or some local gunda planning to steal away his cash.
Unable to match pace, I began running. The hijra too started running. Until we were on the platforms, it appeared as though we were both running to catch the train. However, very soon it was clear that I was running after the eunuch. God knows what everyone would have been thinking. But I wasn’t embarassed. Strange! I had the mission in mind and I was running to complete the mission.
Because of the long skirt he was wearing, he wasn’t able to run as fast. He was soon within my reach and I blocked his way. Before he would have reacted in any other way (They are often equipped with weapons. Otherwise, he would have just shouted and assembled the public), I begged audience.
I told him my purpose and he agreed to do the needful – his only grudge- why did I scare him so much. “You could have told me earlier”. “Sorry” was all I was able to utter while breathing heavily. I had ran after so long.
I came back to my waiting parents with the prized catch. The hijra blessed my bhabhi and said that she would be mother to five sons. “No, i don’t need that many. Just one would do”, bhabhi said. “Okays your wishes will be granted”, the hijra said. Strangely, he didn’t accept any money in return. Before he left the place, mother couldn’t stop from asking him. “Why is it that there are none of you visible today.”
He didn’t have an answer. But I had. The murphy’s law was at work.