A story teller from the lesser minority shares a candid experience of life so far…
“It’s her fate. She’s a blessing from the Supreme. She must never be a subject to torture or brutality”, said my father to my three brothers whenever they raised their voices or hands against me. Thirty-four years ago, I was born and celebrated in Faisalabad, Pakistan in a happy family of seven. My parents gift to me, which I consider the greatest gift of all time was taking care of me and raising me at home.
I believe I was the luckiest girl for others like me were often abandoned by their families and taken away to where they belong – far away. I was grateful for what I had. Now that I think about it, I can’t recall how swiftly the first eleven years went by. I just recall losing my father to a heart disease. This particular event marked the end of an era. My brothers were now potent to abuse my existence.
By then I had developed a pretty vivid sense that I was not interested in buying guns and toy cars, or playing cricket with my brothers. I sought refuge in buying dolls, and secretly dancing in the well, where I could be myself without being frowned upon. My neighbours always told on me and I got beaten up. I turned thirteen and it was time for me to take a radical decision to put an end to the series of unfortunate events once and for all.
A transgender is a born gypsy. The innate courage takes one to places that one might never have thought of. The life of a trans is a roller coaster ride. Crack a joke, bless everyone, beg for money, wear a mask to cheer others up, dance away the sorrows, just make the Lord happy by spreading smiles. That’s what I do. My market name is “Bijli”. Made you laugh, right? That was the goal. Somewhere in the daily shenanigans of the bubbly brunette Bijli keeping it extravagant and candid, “Nosheen” got overshadowed. My trans-community still knows me by “Noshi” who never got chastised by her guru.
Back to my story; with no money in my pocket and no bag on my shoulder, one fine night I boarded a bus along with my partner in all what had been going on with me. The conductor passed by my seat twice looking at the scared unattended kids struggling with their sinking confidence. The third time he walked by, I knew we were going to be asked about the ticket. We convinced the conductor somehow saying we would even sit on the roof of the bus if we had to, but it was important for us to reach our destination.
Next morning we knew our final destination was way ahead of where we got off but we got off. Multan; a city where I knew no one and no one knew me. Within no time on our sleeves to waste, we took a train to Karachi. The conductor there was mesmerised when we danced and clapped and told him we’ll get off soon, and was courteous enough to let us go. We travelled the whole way to Karachi sitting on my friend’s luggage next to the toilets. People still usually hesitate from sitting with our kind. Only a person educated and sufficiently kind enough would do so.
I can’t forget my first night in Karachi at Saidullah Ghot, sitting in the courtyard of an acquaintance. That was my new life. That is where it all started. It was a home for trans of that area, and there I was, being myself. While sitting in a bunk in the corner of the courtyard, I realised I left behind my blood relations for the sake of my identity. I had migrated. My life had changed forever and there was no going back.
Tears rolled down my dirty cheeks as I struggled with accepting the harsh truth of the recognition of a trans life. My tired, spaced out self tried to mingle with all the hospitable people there. Few days later I had moved to the main city where I found my guru and since then I have devoted my time, respect, loyalties, and love genuinely to her.
A human is feeble at heart, be it a man, woman, or a bi-gender. Human heart feeds on love. People seek love from their families, their cats, cars, what not. I had none but the need to spend my leisure time with someone whom I could turn to when everything went wrong. My sweet escape. My “giriya” as we call it. He died, in someone else’s arms, while I had to stay away to protect his reputation. My fellows knew, they felt my loss and they offered comfort, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something/someone was gone forever. After his loss, Karachi just wasn’t the same, I wanted a change. So when the opportunity arose to move to Islamabad, I embraced it wholly. We moved to Islamabad; my guru, her friends and I.
I was now making money and was independent enough to ask my guru to let me rent a house away from her; she was kind enough to let me go. Thus I moved out into the world once again to seek my fortune and find refuge. Bari Imam was the answer. I travelled through the halls of that sacred tomb and danced and laughed around its premises for more than 7 years, all the while trying to forget the loss I had suffered. Bari Imam was a healing phase in my life as I was accepted and even revered by the people who came to the tomb. Bari Imam has a long history of showing kindness to the discarded and the unique; they showed the same to me. Once I felt strong enough again, I decided it was time for a change, a time for a new beginning. I was finally ready to make an identity for myself as a person and not just a transgender.
Thus, I rented a room in Meharabadi and started frequently visiting the markets of F11 and F10. Every day, I would walk the roads of these markets entertaining people and making them laugh with cheeky comments and innocent compliments. People say I have become a mainstay whom they expect to see whenever they come to these markets, and I am happy with that. I am happy that I make people smile, I am happy that I live a respectful life and I am happy that I am still alive. My neighbour is the maulana of a nearby mosque and every day at Zuhr, I go along with him to offer my prayers while dressed as a man with a head scarf. People at the mosque and elsewhere in the community accept my existence with a warm heart.
At this age fighting with hepatitis, I stick to my daily routine of getting my glam on and blending in the hustle and bustle of the happening F11 markaz. I love gossip. I love visiting darbaars and paying my salam to the great sufi souls. I love how tranquilising the whole experience of all that is. My life is all about finding joy in small perks of life.”
Disclaimer: The opinion, belief and viewpoints expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect the opinion, belief and viewpoints of Hello! Pakistan or official policies of Hello! Pakistan