“Baat ye nahi hai ki mai kh-kh-kha-aa-aas hu; baat ye hai ki mai insaan hu. Aur yu jo agar mai sochta rahu, iss rangmanch par baithe– ki mai kya hu– toh, yu ehsans hota hai maano ki– m-m-ma-mai kuch-hu-hi-kaha?” He sighed.
“Haan…” He gave a tee-hee. “Haan…mai hu hi kya?”
“Kirdaar. Bhai, kirdaar hu mai. Jab paida bhi na hua tha, tabse maa-baap ko pata tha ki mai ladka hu. Maa btati hai ab mujhe ki Mami khilaune laati thi. Meri judwa behn ke liye Barbie Doll aur mere liye remote wali gaadi.” Glistening water settled around the shores of his eyes. Lights turned to yellow sunshine, making his eyes glitter with innocence.
“Jab paida hua toh maano 26 ka paida hua mai!” And one drop took its route, walking down through the end of his right eye.
“ ‘Dactarie krega chora; Doctor bnega!’ , ‘Na na, Sachin hai humara ye toh! Khilaadi bnega!’ Mai kya chahta hu…Pucha hi nahi…” Another tear-drop shredded from his left eye and kissed the dividing line of his lips. He again gave a tee-hee and this time it was longer than ten seconds. He rubbed away his cheeks and nose with his cuff and held my left shoulder firmly; dizzy. No, he was not drunk but he seemed to be overwhelmed by something.
“Arre mai ladka hi hu…Tension naa le tu.” He giggled looking right through my eyes. I was not sure what to say next.
“Par yaar, jeena mushkil hai iss “ladke” ki tasveer bnake rkhna khud ko; aakhir mai ladki bhi hu! Nahi, nahi, mera matlab ye nahi ki mai Fluid nature ka hu aur mai ye bhi nahi jatana chahta ki ‘ladki’ hona is equal to kamzor hona, nazuk hona, yaa kuch ‘ladke’ ya mujhse se alag! Nahi…nahi, nahi…” He wagged his head side to side and then looked back again towards me, contining, “Mai insaan hu; naa mera koi dharam hai, naa meri koi jaat, aur naa hi koi ling. Mai sirf ek saans lena wala jeev hu, aur baaki jeev-jantu jaisa…” He took a deep-breath of re-assurance and smiled. “Haan…jeev hu.” There was a silence of two minutes, when I held his right hand firmly between my two hands, trying to console in whatever way possible. Then, he suddenly seems to have an idea, and while still looking down he moved and continued, “…sirf ek khasiyat hai insaan mein shayad, jo ki hai cheezein bnane ki…” He looked into my eyes again, moving his head a bit forward. “…jaise ki…. sahi aur galat bnane ki” He sighed, “haaann… sochne ki kabiliyat.” He relaxed back, keeping his hands on the stage-space behind him.
Then he suddenly again jumped a bit, holding my shoulders firmly, “Control! Bhai Control!” I suddenly jumped out of bafflement and perplexed about what happened to him. He laughed a bit. I calmed down my heart-beats. After few seconds, he continued, “…Arre, mera matlab hai ki insaan rok skta hai khud ko janwar nahi! Shayad bs ye farak hai.” He exhaled deeply again, dropping down his hands, relaxing his posture and head.
There remained silence for around five minutes. All I could hear was his blowing nose, sobers, and the endless hush. I didn’t know what to do, so I remained where I was, as it is. Then he suddenly remembered something again, and erected his back, holding my left shoulder again.
“Arre! Tumhe toh Hindi aati hi nahi yaar…Bhool hi gaya that mai…” He hits his forehead with his palm, dramatically. “Look at me, yet again…I said, I totally forgot about the fact that you don’t know Hindi! Right! Look, so stupid, I am…!” and he laughed.
He dropped back his head and blew out deeply through his mouth.
“So…will you tell me in English now…?” I asked him uncertainly. He busted into chuckles.
“Haan bhai haan…angrezo ke hi balak hai hum, angrezi aati hai… apne itihaas ke panne naa jaane kis tijori mein band hai.” He jerked his head, like in regret and disappointment. Then he suspired deeply.
“What-is-it?” I asked him with confusion and emphasizing my words this time.
“Ah, nothing” and he smiled.
“So, I was actually saying that, like…like, sitting here on this stage I realized that, that…no one’s special and there’s nothing soo-specially-about-that. Then, the point of focus is not that I’m special but rather that, that I’m a human being. When I kept wondering about this thing I realized, that this “I” is nothing in one way but only a character; an actor; like I’m just a performer, with a given role, designations, identity, certain lingo, and tasks. I realized that’s what I’m in reality too and it’s not just a way to earn! Just an actor of this grand stage; the world. From the time even before I was born– when I still survived through an umbilical cord attached to me– from that very moment I was prepared to play a particular identity; my character. My parents knew that I was a boy. Mom used to tell me that, my aunt used to bring my identical sister those pink-pink-Barbies and for me, they used to bring those remote-controlled cars and stuff. When I finally came into existence, out of my mother’s womb– dad tells me– they all said, ‘He will become a Doctor! or He will become a sports-person!’ Thus, it feels like I was born as a 25 or 26-year-old! And even though I know I’m off-stage right now, I still feel like I am performing! I’m playing a given role of a ‘man’, a ‘professional doc’, a ‘citizen’, a ‘good person’ and the list goes on! You know, I do cry, I like painting my nails, and I like keeping my legs closed instead of widely open when I sit down; that doesn’t mean I’m a girlish one, a trans, a bi, or anything like that! But then I don’t like to be categorized as a man or a woman! I have certain body-structure which makes this I a male and not a female. But above these categories is the fact that this I is just a human being.” He sighed for a second.
“If certain things which are related to the word ‘female’, like those I said about me, then okay! I have this side to me and never mind me being a guy!” He coughed a bit.
“See…to me, everyone has some feminine qualities and some masculine qualities and I don’t talk about the word feminine equalling female and the word masculine equalling males. No! I’m just bound to use those words because the language restricts me!” He again gave a deep sigh looking at the floor.
“So…” He looked at me, “I came to a conclusion for my own self and no one else…”
“What is it?” I asked with utter curiosity.
“I’m a living being first and everything else later; even before a human! I’m not a boy, an atheist, a middle-class doctor, a passionate actor, or an Asian or Indian first. No! I am a being with just a bit of controlling capability, a decision-making ability, with a developed lingo, and a certain amount of consciousness. I have the ability to learn, manipulate, and recreate things. That’s what sets me apart probably from animals. But I wish to stay a being.” He dropped down his head and almost ended in a whisper, “A being, living and engaged, until my last breath, which I think is the only philosophy I like to suck happily.”
He giggled and I couldn’t stop, but convert our giggles into two minutes of hearty laughter. The silence remained in the auditorium even after our laughter ended. Then the curtains drew and pantomime was filled with the thunderous applaud.
We remained where we were; unmoved.
Pic credit –> Shutterstock
By Ritika Gupta,India