Queer Self-Reflections - Maralu
Duration: 00:13:30; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 41.800; Saturation: 0.097; Lightness: 0.193; Volume: 0.076; Cuts per Minute: 0.444; Words per Minute: 113.197
I consider myself a woman.
They say that you are a woman only if you get the surgery done. But that is not what transgender is. You are a woman even if you don’t get the surgery.
We have female characteristics by birth. We are not born men and then change into women – we are women right from when we are born.
We have a woman’s mind inside of us.
We don’t have a man’s mind or qualities.
We just have male genitals instead of female.
We want female genitals so much that we risk our lives to get them.
When we do this, we have no care for how the society sees us.
They see us as a joke. In our mind, our ambition is to behave as a woman is supposed to – get married, raise a family.
But they think we rape men. They tease and ridicule us.
They don’t think that we are human and that they should understand and accept us.
No one has accepted us completely so far. Only after the awareness created by NGOs, have people started to accept us. But not completely – society does not include us in any activity.
But we are women. We don’t care that others think us men, we are women.
Even those who wear pant and shirt are women.
Their clothes may change but they have the disposition of a woman.
You can’t call them men - people do, but they shouldn’t.
For us, we are women. We talk to each other as women whether we wear pant and shirt or sarees.
Those Malladis who wear pant and shirt are also women – they behave as women in their family.
You shouldn’t separate or make fun of us. We should be respected and accepted as women. This will be for the good.
Interviewer – Do Malladis get married to women?
Mayamma – They do it for the sake of their family. They don’t do it to be happy with the girl.
Their family has compelled them by saying things like “I’ll die if you don’t” or “I want an heir”.
They are tortured like this into getting married.
Those who wear pant and shirt are the ones who get married.
If they’ve put on a veshti (dhoti) and paavadai (skirt) then they won’t get married.
Even if they don’t get the surgery, they don’t get married.
If they are Malladi wearing pant and shirt, they get married for the sake of their parents.
Parents say things like, “Till I’m alive, I’ll take care of you but when I’m gone who will? You need a life of your own. Your brothers won’t take care of you.” Because of such things, they settle down to marriage.
But they return to the same behavior and come speak to us as women and about being a woman.
They are like that and nothing can be done to change them. How they feel when they have to go back home and act like women, is something only we know.
They say “I went inside and felt this fear. I sweat and don’t know what to say. I have to change my voice and speak.”
They live with this scared feeling inside. That life pretending to be a man is not permanent.
Interviewer – Can all kothis be Malladi?
Mayamma – Yes there are many such. Only some transgender people don’t have the power of the Malladis.
More than a 100 people have the power of god in them.
To be a Aravani you have to undergo a lot of suffering.
These people skip studies and go out with others like them and enjoy themselves.
But they have to return to their families and behave like men.
But if you become Malladi, you can grow your hair, pierce your ears, change your clothes and be as you like.
To be a normal Aravani it takes time and suffering. Which is why a lot of them come out as Malladi.
When I was 7, they’d call me Malladi and god came down into me. When I was young, I’d feel like playing and talking mostly with girls.
My mother would hit me, telling me not to go around with them. I wanted to grow my hair long but couldn’t.
But I’d keep flowers in my hair. By then I was 7 years. After god came down into me, they put a lot of restrictions on me.
They’d tell me not to talk or go around with girls.
Despite that I’d feel like playing only with girls.
Whenever I wore my older sister’s clothes they’d ask me why I did that when I was a boy.
I wouldn’t believe that. I’d tell them I was a girl and that I liked those clothes.
As punishment they’d brand my arms and legs. I didn’t make a big deal out of that.
When I was 9, the god in me became more intense and my family members would get scared and ask me why I was like that.
At the age of 10, god gave me firm orders and my family members didn’t restrict me anymore.
They believed it was because god came into me that I behaved that way.
At the age of 12 when I grew old enough to understand things better, many people would come to me to hear me speak as a medium of god and would ask me to predict the future.
Those who couldn’t be cured by doctors would come to me for solutions and get better.
The word of my powers spread and many more people started coming to me.
It was only after this that our standard of living improved. My income started increasing.
We could now start helping others. At the age of 15, I reached a good stage in my life where I got a lot of money, respect and fame.
Those who’d scorned me earlier now started coming to me. Those who’d teased and taunted me started falling at my feet.
At 20, I’d made a name for myself. The world knew who Maya was.
Now I was scared to borrow money or go out with people and women who wore sarees because everybody knew me.
Even if were in female attire I would gain more dignity. Now everyone know Maya. Maya means famous.
Because of this fame, even my family who’d started rejecting me, started involving me in their affairs. They still haven’t asked me to leave. Usually if anyone had a problem, they’d throw them out but they didn’t do that to me.
My family accepted me. The general public accepted me. My Aravani family also has accepted me. Because of my affectionate behavior everyone is close to me and we’ve reached a good stage in life.
I am proud of this life, not ashamed. I’ve gotten my brother and sister married. When I went searching for brides and grooms for them, nobody refused saying they have a aravani in the family.
They know that if they give their son or daughter to our family in marriage, they will be happy.
People who come to our family and those who leave are very happy. I love the life I’m leading. Nobody shuns me. We are all well.
Malladi, this blessing is the goddess Amman from the famous temple in Melmalai.
Having god come into you is like having spirits take possession of you.
When god comes into you, treatments that can’t be done by doctors are done, not by us but by the god in us.
What the doctors cannot say, the god inside us does about how to treat and cure the patient.
Instead of injections and medicines, the people have to make special offerings to god.
The doctors don’t know this about some people and continue treating them and they become worse instead of better.
People at this stage have come to us.
If they do as god says, those who can’t walk, get up and start walking.
Those with mental problems also become better.
People who haven’t been cured by the treatment given to them at AIIMS have been cured by us. They have become better because of the goddess. That is what Malladi is.
On Mahashivaratri, an auspicious day that comes once in a year, people flock to that temple and ask for advice on all matters. They become very involved in this.
When one person is cured, their whole family comes to us.
They spread this information to others and many people come. Doctors give medicine and even after two days, the patient isn’t cured.
When they come to us, we tell them to make a special offering to god.
When they do this, they become better immediately. That is power. This is because Amman came into us. That is Maralu.
Interviewer – There is an important debate in Tamil Nadu as to why the Malladi call themselves blessed by god. Is it to escape? Do they think that people won’t beat or reject them if they call themselves blessed?
If you become a kothi, Amman will come to you. Amman comes to our community more that to the rest of the general public.
People ask why she comes only to our community. But that is not a question.
Amman comes to those whom she wishes to come to.
Some people call this fake and say it is done in arrogance but that is not true.
Don’t we cure the people doctors can’t? We have the courage to do this in front of you. Ask the doctors to cure cartain people. Let’s see if they can. That is the question.