This happened a few days ago. It was around 8:45 in the morning and the metro was very crowded. My station was next but there was no way for me to turn my wheelchair. Most of the women in my coach had earphones on and couldn’t hear me and the rest simply ignored me.
Just then, I heard someone say, “Beta, do you need some help?” Without even looking at her, I said yes. I needed to turn my wheelchair but there was no space at all. The kind woman asked people to move and helped me turn.
While I was turning my wheelchair, I realised that people were staring not only at me but at both of us. I saw a group of schoolgirls laughing at the lady. I had not been able to see her face before. I turned my head towards her to thank her and that was when I realised why everyone had been staring at her. She was transgender.
I thanked her and she said it wasn’t a big deal and blessed me. When the time came for me to get down from the metro, she came forward and asked everyone to step aside. She helped me get down first. Everyone at the station was staring at us, probably because neither trans women nor persons with disability are appreciated here. These people had seen a trans woman helping a person with a disability – something they couldn’t wrap their heads around.
A few men at the metro station whistled at her. A group of aunties started discussing the way she had dressed. A couple smirked at her. I wanted to shout at them and shut them up because she did not deserve this treatment. She was one of the kindest persons I had ever met. She deserved equal respect and love. We gave each other an empathetic smile before leaving. Instead of getting offended by the people around her, she just walked away. She was wearing these beautiful jhumkas and payal. The sound they made as she walked shut everyone up.
But the incident made me wonder about equality which we talk about all the time. But where is equality when it comes to people like me and her? We are made to feel invisible. The hypocrisy of our society never fails to amaze me.