The day I arrived in the world, my mother’s stomach had been opened wide to bring me out. She was still under the influence of the anesthesia when the doctor and nurse decided to bring me to her. Slightly awake from the anesthesia effect, she opened her eyes and looked at the doctor – " It’s a boy, Doctor" she pronounced even before he could say anything. She had pronounced my fate as well. No, I was not a sex: Male. I was sex: Female. But my whole life has been coloured "grey" – gender ambiguity. I enjoy the trousers and the short hair. I loved the feminine qualities in me and the masculine ones. I loved women who were not really Oh, so feminine and men who are not anxious to prove they are MAN.
I like men like my current boyfriend, Yogi. Happy to sleep in my night dress and happy not to have to prove that he has what it takes to make me happy. In fact, Yogi challenges my thought process all the time. Like he did in Bombay this time after our return from Kolkata where he, I and my new friend Anusri met for a small one-night-out at the beach.
" Resist! Resist! Resist!" Yogi said firmly
" Okay! Chill! " Anusri and I had reacted together
" Time to think things over, guys. We can’t take things lying down any more."
" Yogi, ever since you have returned from Kolkata, you seem to be transformed from a cool collected chap to a militant rebel" Anusri observed.
" Blame it on the Bengali babu!" He said with a wink, looking at me.
" Please! I am not a babu" I retorted.
" Are you sure?" Yogi asked doubtfully.
" No! No! Yogi", Anusri came to my rescue, "Think diversity; Think many. Think gender-bender".
"Yup!" I laughed, " Think Judith Butler and all that. What? It has taken us twenty years or more to rethink ourselves – who we are and say and confirm what Butler said years ago, gender is a social construct and it is a grey space you just cannot put forcefully into black or while zones."
Yogi, Anusri and I were on Gorai beach. Just for this one night. Gorai beach? That’s the one I visited all my childhood years in Bombay – a beach which was isolated and you could sit inside the shacks, or on the wall and get intoxicated by the roaring sound of the sea. Your hair would turn into a large mass of wired mesh. And although you were asked not to, you would risk your life and sit by the water being bathed by the tide rushing in on you. The sand caving in under you to fit your bottoms. Relax! And sip your beer straight from the bottle like as if you had what it took to take the world by storm.
Sadly, Gorai is not the same any more. However.
In the present context, Yogi was really surprised that despite talking of diversity, many-ness, the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India was visibly glaring with the absence of males. So had they decided to beat it and get on with their lives? Or, was it that the feminist movement in India had expelled them from their womb? Even this, was it that the movement had contributed to the making men who were now different and therefore did not need to go out there and make a statement. Or worst of all – had the movement created a divide. That there were men who felt threatened and hence became more male, while others who now felt liberated enough, fell into the grey zone, not really man, neither woman, somewhere in between. To go with the theme of the Conference - Affirming Diversity; Resisting Decisiveness. So where were they?
" How can one definitely say that just because I am in a male body, I have nothing that qualifies me to be what women pride themselves to possess? I cannot be cast into the box saying " The underprivileged – Sex: Male ". I am not going to accept this state. I will resist!"
" Cool it boy! After all we are all shaped by the feminist movement in India and abroad and that gives you a special privilege, to be who you are. "
" Thank God for that. Or else I would have had to keep doing what my father, grand father and great grand father had been doing all their lives! Born male. Get education. Become a professional. Work. Marry. F**K. Produce kids. Contribute to bringing up the next generation of labour force. Or get your girl-child married so she can produce another generation of homo sapiens."
He took a breath and continued, "I like to be able to be in a relationship, without having to make a commitment to marriage. I can make love without having to worry about having kids. I don’t have to be the sole breadwinner. In fact I am not the breadwinner at most times…I can just relax and do my music and make enough money to look after my needs only. I am responsible only for myself. I can cook and wash. And I don’t need my girlfriend to select my clothing and underwear. What a ridiculous thing to do! I have the opportunity to liberate myself from the clinging claws of women – thank God my mother never had the time to be there and cast her overbearing self on me. I was forced to think for myself."
" Thanks to the woman’s movement? Anusri asked again.
" Sure! Thanks to them! Can’t you see, I am not your typical Indian male? I have broken the gender stereotype and therefore I am not your typical Indian "son" who is breastfed by their mothers till they reach their funeral pyres!"
Anusri and I were going to get him this time. We raised ourselves from the wet sands of Gorai beach and were about to hurl ourselves on him, but!
He was right! Damn! He really should have been there at the Conference.