My friend was studying the transgender community in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. So, I got an opportunity to visit the city along with a friend while researching for my M.A. dissertation last December. Being interested in the subject, I accompanied her to the field for data collection. During these visits, I got in touch with Amar (name changed) a.k.a. Molly, a trans woman living in the Harijan basti. Molly is one of the key respondents of my friends’ study. Molly di worked as a domestic help in different households to earn her livelihood and felt very proud of this fact. She is one of the most respected and well-known members amongst the transgender community living in the city.
On meeting her for the first time, she appeared to be friendly and we went on to talk for almost an hour. During this period, she spoke about her life as a Hijra, her struggles, her community, her work, her basti, etc. The conversation was very interesting as she kept on cracking small jokes in between. It was also a learning experience for me and provided me insights into the community. I kept on meeting her over a period of 10 days that I was in the city and every time I met her, she told me something new about the Hijra community. This developed into a friendship between the two of us.
One evening, while we were having tea and samosas at a local stall, I informed her that I was leaving the next evening and probably this was the last time I would be seeing her for a long time. She appeared a little sad on hearing this and told me to not worry and that she would come and see me the next day at the home of my host before I left.
As promised, I got a call from Molly di the next afternoon. She informed me that she would reach the locality in about five minutes and asked me to come and wait for her in the children’s park there. I did as I was instructed. In five minutes, I saw a vibrant and smiling Molly di appear, wearing a very beautiful salwar kameez, which she got stitched very recently, hair done beautifully in a bun, wearing a pink lipstick and very light makeup. Molly di loved wearing lipsticks and was a fashionista.
As soon as she reached the place, she asked me to sit on a bench in the park. We both sat down and I noticed her taking out a small gift wrapped loosely in a newspaper. What took me by surprise was that she gave me blessings along with that. She gifted me the gift wrapped in a newspaper and asked me to open it later when she left.
I didn’t open the gift then. She then took out a one rupee coin and kissed it; chanting something, She touched it with her head and feet and then gifted it to me and asked me to keep the coin with me always and to not lose/gift it to anyone else. In her words, she told me, “Ye Hijre ka aashirvaad hai, itne aasani se nahi milta aur bina maange toh milta hi nahi. Tumhe de rahi hoon, humesha apne paas rakhna aur khush rehna.” (It’s a blessing from a Hijra, one doesn’t get it easily and without asking, one definitely doesn’t get it. I’m giving it to you, always keep it with yourself and stay happy.)
I don’t know If I deserved so much of love and warmth from her, but it was surely one of the best moments of my life. Also, I don’t know if the blessings by the Hijra community are just myths which we have being carrying as culture since ages, but it did feel good and positive to be blessed by someone. It filled me up with more energy and dedication to work on the field and keep engaging with different communities and knowing their diversities, culture, issues, etc.
It’s very heartwarming to see how people can be so welcoming and warm in accepting strangers with open arms and letting them see the world from their side when they don’t really have to. Guess, this is what makes us humans. Walking back home with all these thoughts in my mind, I slowly opened the newspaper wrap. She had gifted me a Ganesh idol.