I felt inadequate and a little afraid, without quite knowing why.
Was it her toughness? Her anger? Her warmth? Was it the timbre of her voice? Or the whiplash of her patience? Was it the strength of eyes? The weight of tears? The lines on face or hands? Was it her otherness? Or sameness? The particularities of her life? Or the universalities of ‘their kind’? Was it the imagining of rejections so vast and so wide that no earth can swallow them?
What do you say when there are no missives of hope, no rallying calls of solidarity, not even the right to say that you understand because it’s so clear that you in your ivory tower of privileged identities, cannot even hope to?
I fancy myself an agnostic. But when she told me that she is God’s child, I could only nod mutely. None of the things I believe in would have stood examination in that little room. I bowed to her faith — not literally — but by allowing her to assume that I am a believer too. And on the way back to the hotel, I remembered that unbelief is also a privilege.
*On meeting Mallika, a eunuch (transgendered person) in Saidapet, Chennai