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The ‘other world'

The book “Teesri Taali” laments society's abject neglect of eunuchs

It is a much misunderstood community – generously riled on, rebuked and made fun of. Yet, the eunuchs or hijras – nature's peculiar aberration – soldier on in this world somehow wresting a precarious living in a society, bereft of sympathy and understanding. The society simply refuses to take cognisance of their existence. Very little has been written about their plight and even writers have shunned them to a great degree. So here comes journalist Pradip Saurabh's work in Hindi, “Teesri Taali” which attempts to delve into the life of the hijras, often referred to as living in the ‘other world'.

Saurabh, who wrote his first novel “Munni Mobile” last year, gives a glimpse of the lives of hijras and their battle for their daily survival. The book does not have a hero or an anti-hero but all characters cited are real.

While hijras don't shirk from singing and dancing for the masses and participate in all happy occasions, in return they are despised, snubbed and looked down upon as plain outcasts and those with no dignity or self respect. Of course they do get a few crumbs in return with which to subsist.

At least in many southern states, eunuchs carry on with their petty businesses like selling vegetables, running a provision store or even doing the work of a cobbler but in the north business and job opportunities are virtually non-existent for them and they are reduced to begging on the streets, bus stops, traffic signals and bazaars.

In sympathising with the cause of hijras, Saurab argues that being neither a woman nor a man is not their own doing. Given a choice they would have been born just like any of us. The author also questions the wisdom of society's gross neglect of them – in what way should their being ‘different' be an impediment to their carrying on their daily chores of life, he asks.

AAMIT KHANNA

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