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- George C. Marshall
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‘Kooo..’ ‘The train arrived on platform no. 3, is slow local for Borivali,leaving at…’It was an everyday,usual announcement at one of the Mumbai’s overcrowded railway station platform. ‘Shama Akhtar’,one of the upcoming,promising newcomer ‘Film Director’ was waiting at platform for her train to arrive.She was a keen observer.She always used to look around her with tremendous amount of curiosity.Observing people from head to toe was her usual habit.She always used to be in search of something new, different which will give her an idea or stimulus for any film.That’s why she used to travel by train,inspite of having her own luxury car.One movie script was going on in her head recently.It was woman oriented movie-‘Laila’. And Shama was in search of a new,fresh face.She had thought about number of currently working young actresses.But no one was suiting that role,as per her way film.She needed a totally different kind of lady.
As she was busy in her thoughts,her attention was caught by a tall,fair,slim & extremely beautiful lady.She was wearing a shining yellow saree with a tattoo of heart & fish on her back.Her hair were brown,highlighted.She had a purse with her & was with one of the lady local train vendor ,who was selling hairclips.Shama just could not take off her eyes from that beautiful lady. ‘What a stunning beauty she is!’Shama just said in her mind.It was a woww personality for her.For a while Shama had a thought in her mind. ‘Can I ask this lady for my film? Is she a foreigner?’Shama totally got lost in her thoughts.
‘Kooo..’Shama got alert by the sound of train.Her train had arrived.Shama hurriedly got into the train to catch her favorite window seat.Luckily it was less crowded.Shama got her favorite window seat.That beautiful lady also got into the train & sat in the next compartment opposite to Shama.Shama started staring at that lady in search of suitability for her film character.That lady had a latest smartphone in her hand.As the train started ,that lady kept her branded small purse aside,got up & came forward by clapping. “Dey maa..Dey behen..Dey babboo..”
Ooppss..Shama was shocked.. ‘Is she a transgender? Ohh no..How can it be?’Shama just caught her head in disappointment. ‘Such an amazing personality..Eye catching, killer figure..Glowing complexion.. Just a fascinating beauty..And she has to do this ?Alas! But hey..Wait a minute..I mean..I want to say..So what, if she is a transgender? Is she not a human being? I can change her life .I can give her a new purpose in life Yess..I can do that.Can I talk to her just once? But will she agree?’ Shama was a bit upset & confused. As Shama was busy in her thoughts,that beautiful lady got down also at next station.During her short stay there, she touched head of every possible woman in the compartment & begged for money.She blessed that every woman who had given her chillar.After getting them,she happily kissed those chillars. By the time,she had collected almost 15-20 coins.
So who was that beautiful lady come transgender? She was ‘Bijali’come Brijlal.Suiting to her name she really had an electrifying & shining personality.She was born in a rich family.But being born as a transgender,as declared by the doctors, her parents abandoned her out of shame,due to fear of society.Bijali was sent to an orphanage.Ashram people raised her & provided basic education.Initial years of her life were quite miserable.People in her locality used to give her strange look,laugh at her.Even some people in her locality tried to rape,abuse & misbehave with her.After some number of years,coincidentally ‘Nayak’(Leader) of one transgender gharana, ‘Lajvanti Devi’ was walking by the Ashram side.She spotted Bijali.She decided to adopt her.She talked to Ashram authorities.And after completing all necessary formalities,took charge of Bijali.Thus finally Bijali was officially introduced in transgender community.Her training started to become a professional transgender.She got all that necessary training of-How to have a sweet talk to train passengers,how to beg at shops.How to-sing,clap,dance,make-up,do hairstyle by wigs & dress up.Bijali,being beauty with brain,thus sharp & intelligent,learnt all these things quickly & became an expert professional transgender.But side by side she had to do job of sex worker also. Initially it was very difficult for her to accept,digest all such things.Her mind was constantly telling her that this not at all which she is supposed to do.She is at a totally wrong place.But she had no option.She needed a support, a secure shelter above her head.The training given was constantly bombarded on her every now & then.There were people just like her.She had to listen to elderly.While travelling by train she used to observe school & college going girls with books in their hand. She used to observe office going & corporate sector ladies with laptops.She used to observe some ladies in corporate formal dresses.Sometimes she used to see Air Hostesses also in the train.Many a times she used to see women carrying cute babies with them.Bijali used to feel very bad.She used to think ‘I also look like a lady only.But I cannot have all this.In what profession I am?’ She used to wipe her tears.With passing years,Bijali settled in her profession.She got deeply rooted in it.Bijali hardly had any difficulty in getting chillars.Due to her attractive looks, ladies in the train easily used to give her a good number of coins.She started bringing lump sum amount of money for her nayak ‘Lajvanti Devi’.Bijali was growing up.She became a popular transgender amongst local train passengers. She had a typical afternoon time of begging.People used to miss her if on any of the day she could not be spotted.She made friends with some regular local train vendors. ‘Radha’,a dark complexioned,middle age poor lady,who used to sell hair clips & nail enamel remover was her close friend.People used to often notice Bijali with her.Bijali was a bit mischievous person too.She often used to tease & harass kid vendors & other beggars in ladies compartment.She used to love travelling by train.She used to enjoy the speed of train by often standing near compartment door.She immediately used to get down at next station & catch the next train.Trains & Railway Station was her world.She used to talk on her phone after getting down at a station.But her looks were totally different than a typical transgender.She didn’t even had a side hair growth or beard hair.She used to wear a small,cute ponytail of her short,brown highlighted hair.She loved wearing saree.But actually any kind of dress suited her.Her voice was a bit hoarse,from which people used to understand that she is a transgender.Once a man tried to flirt with her on platform.Bijali too got attracted towards him.But as she uttered a word to speak to him,that man understood who she was.And he literally ran away from there in fear & shame.
Shama started getting to see Bijali every day in the train.She got to see her carefree nature,walking & talking style,attitude & mischiefs.But somehow,she didn’t have the courage to take an initiative to once talk to Bijali or approach her,interact with her personally.She was a bit afraid.Bijali also hardly came to her as she was easily getting chillars from number of other ladies.
On one fine day,Shama arrived her usual railway station platform a bit late in the night.She had to attend her childhood friend’s engagement ceremony in one of the banquet near from the station. She sat on one of the bench of platform & was about to glance at the indicator.Suddenly she heard a sobbing & weeping sound from nearby.She looked here & there.And to her surprise,there was none other than her favorite Bijali,who was crying silently.She had come there running few minutes back by side starcase.Shama immediately went to her & asked softly, “What happened madam? May I help you?” Bijali got shocked to hear the word- ‘Madam’.First time in her life she was given so much respect by someone by this word.She got confused & hesitated for a while to reply.Shama asked her same question again.Bijali asked her, “But who are you?” As Shama told her that she has frequently noticed her begging in afternoon trains, Bijali gathered some courage & finally explained Shama the recent matter that happened with her.Bijali was abused & eve-teased by some drunken men near station in that night.They were chasing her in order to molest.Bijali had to run hard.She immediately informed Railway Police & they caught hold of the drunken men.Bijali was fed up of certain things in her life.She was a woman by mind.Several men used to take undue advantage of her body.She used to feel ‘Yuck’ for her sex work.She was sensing something wrong in her life.But whom she will talk to?After listening to her entire story,Shama paused for a while & asked Bijali casually, “Would you like to come with me? Why don’t you start a new, fresh & totally different life then? I will help you out.I will change your life.Trust me.I’m an upcoming movie director & I need a beautiful person like you only to act in my films.But you will have to leave your world of transgenders.You will have to quit begging in trains.You will get that each & everything in life which you actually deserve.When I had seen you in the train for first time,I felt you are only that perfect person for my lady character in a movie.” Bijali couldn’t believe in her ears for a while. ‘Am I in dreams ? Change in life ? No more working as a transgender ? A movie heroine & that too me?” Bijali just bursted out laughing & said,“ Me & acting in movies?What a big joke!”Shama quickly pointed her finger towards the recent star plus channel serial advertisement.She said, “You can become even more famous than her.” Bijali looked up towards the advertisement.The famous ,stunning female actress ‘Kamini Sachdev’ was standing opposite a handsome guy with blue-black sky in the background,full of stars.It was the advertisement of an upcoming serial ‘Chand ke paar’.Of course,as indicated by the name,it was a serial, based on love story of a beautiful couple. Widening her eyes in a great shock & surprise,Bijali asked Shama, “Me an actress? But do I deserve?” Shama said, “Of course.Why not?Just do as directed by me.I’ll introduce you to certain people I know.Learn & get trained from them.But don’t harass them.Follow their instructions. I need you for my upcoming movie.Once you decide that you want to go ahead in life,no one can stop you.” Bijali said, “ But I’m a transgender.You know that.” Shama said, “So what? Are you different than a human being? You have taken birth on this earth.Did you fall here from sky? Don’t you have your own life happiness,desires & dreams? You know what you have to do every day to earn your livings.Is this a life according to you? Come out of this world,baby.You have come at an absolutely wrong place.You are following a wrong kind of profession.You deserve a much much better kind of life than this one.Look at yourself.You are such a tall,slim,fair & beautiful human being.There is no other transgender as ravishing as you.You know very well by what way world is looking at you,supposing you.Why do you continue in such a profession that gives you no purpose or respect in life?Shama asked Bijali a genuine question. “Are you really happy in your this kind of lifestyle? Don’t you want to do something really different, which will catch attention of many?” Bijali said, “No.I’m at all happy,where I’m.” Tears rolled down from her eyes. “Then come with me.In fact,you have to come with me.Tomorrow you will grow old.World will change.Technology will further advance.Do you think you will earn the same as today at that time also? I have seen you teasing old beggars in train.Tomorrow you are going to be at their place.No one can postpone old age.It has to be faced by everyone.If not that then another option is death in young age.Later on,you are going to get many competitors.You are not the only transgender in world.So,why don’t you do something out of box,which will give you everything right from fame,moneyrespect,professional dignity & mental satisfaction & a secure future ?It’s your life.You are free to decide.But remember Bijali one thing in life, your birth of human being is very precious.And one should use this birth,this life a bit for others too.Tomorrow if you become an actress & start earning in lakhs,you will definitely serve a society too,which will give you blessings.Just like how you give blessings to train passengers when they pay you.Become a donour.Don’t wait Bijali..Your bright future is waiting for you, ahead.Don’t waste time.Earn money in dollars & not in chillars.Earn your cash in rectangular,fragrant,brand new notes & not in round,metallic coins.Get your huge amount of money in cheques and online account transfer.And last but not the least..Don’t display your body to become an object of fun or free of cost entertainment.Use your time,energy,life for some fruitful purpose.” Bijali thought for a while.She had been caught in a great dilemma by now.She had spent a quite sufficient number of years of her life as a transgender.Suddenly leave it & go with another unknown lady? Is she cheating me?What if she took me to some another area of sex workers?How to believe in her ?What will my Nayak ‘Lajvanti Devi’ say?What my community people will say?Will society accept me in films?What if I had to come back here again?’Bijali asked Shama, “But I have heard that you need a strong luck to survive in film industry.If I join there,there will be no way back to me.What if I fail there ?”Shama said, “You are the creator of your own destiny,Bijali.Even god also does not know now,what you can do.A wonderful opportunity knocks the door of person’s house just once.Not more than that.Think once.”As their conversation was going on, announcement for Shama’s train took place.It was about to arrive on platform.Shama hurriedly gave Bijali her business card & got into the train.It had all her details..Bijali told Shama to wait till next day.And promised her that she will let her know,by tomorrow, whether it is Yes or No to her offer.Thereafter reaching home,Bijali had a sleepless night.She remembered her entire life till today like a movie.It was a very very bad kind of life.Not at all a straight forward normal life.Bijali had a great worry for her future. ‘What next ? How can I suddenly come out of all this?’ She thought that she will be easily recognized by train people on Television,Theatre screen as a transgender. ‘Who is going to watch my movie? What if it turns out to be a flop show?Won’t there be any protest from my community?’ Bijali was under tremendous pressure.She slept a quite late after almost 2’0 clock in night.That night,Bijali saw a beautiful dream.She saw herself accepting the black lady trophy of Filmfare awards for being a best,upcoming newcomer actress.Entire audience was clapping for her & congratulating her.
“Bijali..Birju..Brijlaal..”Bijali got awake by her roommate transgender Kanta’s call.As she opened her eyes.She got a bit upset.. ‘Oops..I’m here.But what a wonderful dream it was!’Kanta told her to get ready for their today’s begging business.Bijali got up from bed & went to brush.She had a close look at her image in mirror. ‘Can this transgender Bijali become tomorrow’s superstar?’Bijali made up her mind. ‘Yess..I don’t want to continue here anymore after this.Life gives second chance.Accept it.Let’s do it.And that’s going to be final’.Bijali finished her brushing,took a bath & got ready.She packed her entire luggage.Kanta,her roommate had gone out to get milk.Bijali just left a note to her informing that she will never be back.She messaged Lajvanti Devi,her Nayak, that she is leaving forever.And going to some unknown place for never returning back to her community people as she was fed up of everything she had to do till today.Bijali dialled Shama’s number which she had got from her business card.Both decided to meet at the same spot of yesterday night.Shama was extremely happy to know that Bijali was ready to come with her.Finally she had got a heroine of her choice.Both gave each other a big,tight hug after meeting.
And the turning point of Bijali’s life arrived eventually.But for a few number of days,she was threatened,abused & cursed by her Nayak,her community people.She didn’t pay any heed to them.Bijali was now determined.From that day onwards,schedule of Bijali got totally changed.She was taken to number of people like-
Voice Modulater,councellar,beautician,dietician,psychotherapist,doctor,English Language & basic computer course teacher.She was sent to acting school also.She was taught car driving & self-defense techniques,as they all were needed to be done by her in a movie,without making use of a dummy.Shama tried her best to shape up her personality.She first wanted to change Bijali’s body language to a usual human being like others.Shama worked day & night,to bring up a change in Bijali’s way of presenting herself.Anyhow she wanted to cast Bijali only in her upcoming movie-‘Laila’.It was a movie of a gorgeous ,struggler model,who faced many ups & downs in her modelling career,but never gave up or committed suicide like other models.This movie had a message that, ‘One should love life,accept challenges but never to end it by your own self at any cost,as it is a most precious thing on the surface of earth.’
Bijali in her transforming time had no less tough time at all.Her journey towards her first movie completion was definitely not at all a cakewalk.She went through number of hardships & sacrifices.As her screen taste was succesful,the actual movie shoot commenced.Many a times she cried,felt like giving up.But there was no U-turn.The doors to her previous kind of lifestyle were permanently shut & she had to travel by the only door which was left open in front of her.She suffered from severe leg pain due to non-stop day & night dancing rehearsals.Initially she used to get up in the morning according to her own comfortable time.But now she had to get up early in the morning for shooting.She literally had to force her memory in order to remember the long,long dialogues exactly.She was taught cycling,horse riding in which she fell down number of times & got injured.Station side vada paav was her favourite,but now she had diet restrictions.The place of her favourite cold drinks available on railway station was taken by vegetable soups.She had a strict diet plan in order to maintain weight for looking a perfect model for the movie.She had a toughest time of her life,when her swimming lessons had begun,as she was very afraid of water.Shama was always there with Bijali to support & motivate her.Two years went off.And posters of Bijali’s new movie directed by Shama started flashing on advertisement boards of roads,on television. Newschannels, highways,magazines,newspapers.Everywhere there were hoardings of the movie.People who had seen Bijali in train begging as a transgender were highly astonished.They understood the reason behind her absence in the train for so many months.
And what then ?There was a tremendous crowd in almost all the theatres of not only Mumbai but also everywhere in country when the first day of show arrived.People were excited & curious to see a transgender working in movie for a role of a model.Theatres got flooded by transgenders too.Some people tried to watch movie on internet,some even tried to go illegally by trying to get a pirated CD.Laila was successful in touching heart of almost each & every viewer.She got number of claps & whistles for a movie.
Bijali never had to look back.She got almost everything which she deserved in life.She ultimately got a worthy & satisfactory life after that.Her first movie ‘Laila’ was a great success.It was a record breaking movie.Bijali not only received Filmfare (Which she had seen in her dreams) but also National Award for it,as she had really worked in it from heart.Nobody raised an objection for her being a transgender,but she was gladly welcomed by Film Industry,in fact admired & encouraged a lot.
Yess..It was definitely a transformation of a transgender.Not of body parts.It was of life,identity,image,career & personality.Shama did it & Bijali responded.But Bijali did not stop there.She developed a craze for success.After the success of Laila, Bijali acted in several women oriented movies.She did role of Nandini ( A rape victim),Mohini (Lady Prostitute),Surabhi (Devdasi) & Mona (A tennis player)They too did well on Boxoffice,as they were a different kind of movies focusing on social & career life of a woman.They all had a certain kind of message to be given to the society.Laila was now a famous face in film industry.She was successful in making her own,individual identity in film industry.In later phase of her life,she did some mature roles of politician & social activist.Her every work was appreciated not only by audience but also by media.The transgender community became proud of her.Her Nayak Lajvanti who had raised her after bringing from Ashram was in tears.She was happy for whatever & wherever Bijali was today.She posted her best wishes & congrats to Bijali on her social networking site page.Bijali acknowledged them.People started rushing towards Bijali whenever she was called up for inauguration ceremonies.All of them were eager to have her autograph & click a selfie with her.Later Bijali turned a director like Shama,under her constant guidance & mentoring.Bijali got a posh,spacious bungalow of her own.Later,during her journey of film career,she mate another transgender who was working as a script writer for variety of movies.He was searched out by some another director.As Bijali’s contact with him started rising for film making,they both fell in love with each other & got married.Although,Bijali was not the one,who can give birth to her own children,she adopted two kids.One girl & One boy.She took out time from her busy schedule to raise those adopted kids successfully.Bijali became a successful director also.She gained success in her both personal & professional lives.It took her no time to turn even producer from director.She started financing quality films.
But even after reaching peak of success,her feet were on ground.She always donated some amount from her monthly income to NGO’s & orphanages who were working to improve conditions of transgenders like her & also of poor beggars,street children.And of course,how can she forget Shama ?Who was another ‘Nayak’ of her life.Shama established her own production house & Bijali started working with her in a partnership.Their production house was given a name ‘Sapna’. Dream fulfiller of that each & every person, who wishes to join film industry.
Later Bijali put all her thoughts in her autobiography- ‘Bijali ki Bayaan’.In that she mentioned all the sorrows & difficulties of transgenders.She had gone through the horrible experience of it.It was a different thing for her that she met Shama & her life got changed.But she knew every transgender is not as lucky as her.Here are the few things to be mentioned from her autobiography:-
‘We too are human beings although we are neither males nor females.One should see things beyond reproductivity also.Every human being is not born for producing kids.I produce films,quality films,which are reflections of your own life.We don’t want any sympathy or favor from society.We want equal rights.We want a normal way of look from the society.In no way we are similar to jokers.We are just a different kind of human beings.We are third rank gender community after genders of male & female.We should also get special reservations when senior citizens,women,disabled & other caste people can get.Do not judge a person by the way of specific gender.Whether a person gets pregnant or makes someone pregnant.There is much beyond reproductivity.And that cannot be the only criteria to identify a person.What about a person who is a woman by mind but not by body?Who doesn’t possess a baby bag inside body.We cannot be called as unnatural just because of that.It is not our fault that we are like this.Nature made us like this.’
‘Accept us,involve us.We too get hurt like how you get, when someone from society gives you inferior kind of treatment.I may use all those things like a woman right from clothes to make up material.But nature has not given me that privilege to use those few,certain things which are used by every adult, grown up women.I saw pregnant ladies in train.But I can never experience pregnancy.It really hurts a lot.’
‘When there arises a question of public washroom, where should we exactly go? We prefer that of ladies once,as we feel there safe.We know that, we will not get attacked or molested there.Our gender is not fixed like you guys,but our body functions like that of you people only.We also eat,drink,slip.We also have our own emotions,feelings.’
‘Sexual harassment happens with us also. Most of us have gone through that horrifying experience.We dress up like women because we know that it gives you pretty look.There is a lot of scope to look attractive,when you choose to have a woman’s attire.’
‘But we also have our own identity.We are also talented.We can also serve society.Not that,we all are dependent on others for money.We can gain it on our own.We just need your love,care,support & friendship.We want equal treatment’
That previous Bijali, who was a regular,frequently seen person, in Mumbai’s local trains & on railway station platforms, was never spotted there again.And why will she come there? She knew that she will immediately get spotted & surrounded,chased by media people,paparazzis & crazy fans.
Now she travels by her own car.But the sound of Mumbai’s local train still rings in her ears.. ‘Kooo..’