Wednesday, 30 July, 2008


A group of girls chatting and eyeing boys in the college canteen;
Some girl friends out on a shopping spree giggling over the dresses they are trying on;
Mother teaching her daughter how to bake a cake;
Elder sister taking the younger one to a beauty parlour to get her first ever eye brow trimming done.

She sees them all. She wishes she could be part of such circles, have similar experiences, know what it feels to flirt with boys, go jwellery shopping, discuss lip stick shades.
She cannot. Sometimes she feels like the Lady of Shallot of Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shallot’. She can witness all, yet she can never be part of any of it, however much she yearns for it. Sometimes when she gets really lonely in her own skin, she goes for external changes, sheds her usual clothes and wears all feminine stuff, tries on make-up as best as she can. For you see she was not taught by anyone how to apply make-up, nor did she grow up experimenting with them. Whatever she learnt has been on the sly, alone in her bedroom, with no one around.
She carries a terrible secret at all times with her. She has lost many, many friends to this secret, been hurt badly and consistently. Sometimes she wishes that she could just shed off this burden and be a carefree twenty-four year old that she is. She is twenty-four but she feels like forty. Even at this young age she has faced more hurt and uncertainty than most of us do in our entire lives.
You must be wondering who she is—she is a woman trapped in a man’s body. I met her many years back, when she told me her secret, expecting instant rejection from me. Somehow I did not reject her, I could not reject her. She looked like a lost soul, braving yet another rejection to confide in me. All I wanted that day was to hug her and tell her that everything would be ok.
She is more feminine, more aware of her women’s entity, more conscious of ‘herself’ than most women I know. For her this discovery was a very painful process, something she pieced together over the years. She still vacillates between feeling like a man and a woman. There are days when practical self wins and she decides to remain a man and days when her heart just wants to be a woman. But not just any woman, a free woman, who can be herself out in the public and with everyone she loves. She has a man’s body, yet emotionally and psychologically she feels like a woman. She dares not share it with her family, friends, and so she shares a bit of herself with strangers like me. Over the years we have become good friends. She tells me I am the only person who accepts her just like she is.
So why do I accept her? I accept her because I feel destiny has played a hard enough joke on her, we humans do not need to make her life more difficult. I accept her because for me a friend is simply a friend, and physicality does not matter. I accept her because she is a damn good human being, someone I am proud to know.
The uncertainties she goes through are killers. I don’t know if I would have survived them. Yet she carries on. Not only that she is brilliant in her own right and bright as a button and going great guns in her career. Being a topper is not hard work for her, finding a friend who will understand her is. I sometimes wonder what inner resources of strength she has. It is a lonely road she has chosen. We have spoken about sex change a number of times. Yet she feels if she decides to come out in the public, her family would be too hurt and humiliated. And since she loves her parents she cannot afford to do that. In Tennyson’s words “She knows not what the curse may be”. So she lives on as a man, yearning to let the woman in her be liberated. But that may take a long time and she knows it.
Here’s to Her. I wish I could say everyting would be ok, sadly I cant, the only promise I can make is that I will always be her friend.


  1. Suchi......this is a pristinely beautiful piece. I went through a emotional roller coaster reading this but do not have the words to adequately describe the experience. Just want you to know, I am so touched that you wrote about this.....there are millions in this world who are like your friend and they may not have an accepting shoulder to lean on. I am proud to have a friend like you who is accepting and does not stand in judgement. Love you girl......

  2. hey that was beautifull...had a client like this once, only was the other way round!! dunno where he got lost though!

  3. well they are there. we just need to look, they are eager to be accepted but hesitate...hope one day my friend would be able 'come out'.
    thanks muthu and u both...

  4. Suchi, what a lovely piece of writing .. both in content & expression.

    Kudos to you ... for creating this piece but more for having the clarity of thought of why we should like people (for WHO they are and not what gender they are!)


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