Queer Self-Reflections - Madhu/Teacher
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We are two kids at home, me and my brother.
We used to wear the same clothes, so growing up we never had any difference as such with gender.
We would wear boys or girls clothes and people would call us either mone [son] or mole [daughter].
We would play with boys and all of them would wear boy’s clothes. Till I reached class 4 I would sit with boys and wear boy’s clothes.
The kids who would sit next to me were called Sreekumar etc, so I always identified as one of them, as a boy.
Sexual characteristics or gender difference of people never really bothered me.
That was my childhood till about class 4.
Now when I think back I feel proud, that I was raised by parents who did not impose gender difference on us.
They would never call me by any name. Child, son or daughter is what they would call me. Both of us would be addressed the same way. We would not address ur parents as mother or father either, we would only say, “Look here” etc.
They did not exert any authority or power over us at home either. We had complete freedom.
After class 5, we were in a mixed school. I was good friends with everyone. Then I felt people were changing they way they looked at me.
Some attraction etc happened. But I wouldn’t feel like that about everyone, one or two kids in school I have felt were like me.
When I was in class 5, my chain broke and one boy ran and collected all the beads and gave it to me.
I felt some love for him out of gratitude. Nobody told me he was of a different sex/gender so I never thought about that either.
Because of my open behaviour, teachers also could find no fault with me and nobody opposed me like that. So, I feel like even teachers behaved very well with me.
Then when I was in class 7, I felt attracted to another kid.
In a class of about 75 kids, there was about 45 boys and 22 girls. Girls were a minority and I felt angry/irritated with them.
I felt more idenitificaton with boys, so I would sit with girls but interact with boys.
After sometime, I felt I was not attracted to or angry with girls. I was not interested in interacting with them at all.
I was very isolated in class 9 and 10 . Neighbourhood boys would see me as a girl, but I would see them only as friends.
That is how it became a comedy for me. Physically I was a girl, I had menses etc but still I felt it was comic that they would look at me. So, I would think why can’t they look at other girls, why me.
I just wanted friendship with them, I never felt attracted to them. I would feel like going for movies, cycling etc.
When my mother would see me she would say,” Di, get down from the cycle. You don’t have to ride it, just sit here” etc .
I would then go without her knowledge for cycling with the boys. Then they boys would go for 2nd show films, so I would feel why can’t I go, why am I not allowed?
By 6 they would wear mundu and shirt and go. Though I wouldn’t go for the film, I would also wear mundu and shirt and roam about.
People would ask, “is this a boy” and then they would just say “yeah, it is a boy” and go on. But at that time also, I felt no attraction for girls.
When I reached college, I had 3 friends who were girls.
Though I didn’t feel any sexual attraction, there was one kid who was just like me. Like a mirror image.
I would with that kid hand in hand, take the kid home etc. So, those days nobody would hang out with people from other communities and this kid belonged to another community but we would still go together. I would get that kid home, and eat together etc.
That I felt was a big thing. I studied in a ladies’ college. Everyone used to wear pants there, so I felt no difference.
Nobody would wear saree, but they would say once in a while , “why don’t you come like jayabharathi in a saree once?” Because they would say, I would sometimes wear a saree but I was not interested in wearing one at all.
I would wear pants and my folks would always buy it for me also. So, I feel like my parents who showed no difference towards how they raised me a big thing.
When I was studying for BA, I felt attracted to my cousin. She was a girl.
I would tell her, let us go to the terrace etc. I didn’t know whether it was love or what. I was 19 then and she was 14.
It was very natural. She would lie on my lap, and I would say, “ I am Prem Nazeer”, “ You are Jayabharathi” so by being those characters, I would give gender roles.
When people at home would come back, we would sit like nothing was going on. Then we would go to the toilet together.
Using the excuse of helping each other with saree and petticoats etc. She would wear girl’s clothes, only to her I felt that attracted.
I never felt like that with any of the girls studying with me. Nobody told me she is your cousin, you cannot do this or that.
Sometimes, my aunt would ask,” why are you walking around like a man and girl”. Since I was 19 and she was 14, and we were cousins, they didn’t question us. If it was someone else, maybe they would have said something, I feel now when I look back.
They wouldn’t let us sleep in one room, my aunt, her mother would come then.
When my aunt would come and sleep next to us, we couldn’t do whatever we wanted to. So , I felt like somewhere, they did keep an eye on us.
Like that, time passed on, we would write letters to each other. I had a pen friend at that time, so my family decided that instead of letting me while away time with that cousin, they said they would marry me off.
I had no interest. It was a man like Mohanlal. He was very big, I had no interest.
When I was 20, my parents washed their hands off me and got me married off in a grand way.
We went to Bombay for a long time. But he didn’t know that inside I felt like a man. I had read about lesbians in a Jaico publications book , ‘All About Love and Sex’.
He only bought me that book. Then I realised, my love was lesbian. But if I told him, he would asked me to go back home, he was educated and knew about these things.
So, I somehow managed for 4 years. We didn’t have kids, after having sex with him, I would panic, wash and then sleep.
When my friend came to visit us, they had a relationship and based on that, we got a divorce.
I never felt anything for him . I only thought of him as a friend, never as a husband or anything. But anyone who would come home at that time would ask when are you going to Bombay etc.
I couldn’t tell them that I didn’t feel like going, so I would say I am staying here to study. I joined for MA and B Ed. Then after sometime, the pressure began and they said when your brother gets married, the new girl will push you out of the house, you cannot remain like this etc.
Then I agreed for another marriage. But I told him, as far as I am concerned, I am a man and you should give me the same freedom that a man gets.
I will go wherever I want at whatever time etc. He said, I won’t restrict your freedom, I won’t scold you, you can go wherever with whoever you want but it should not be an affair.
I said, I won’t have an affair with men. He knew I was a lesbian and had no issues with my hanging out with them. I told him, I don’t see my relation with women the way you see it.
He used to think I was simply saying all this.
It has been 25 years, till now he has not been able to understand my gender. We have two kids and also grandchildren. My son is not married, he is studying.
However much I tell him, he doesn’t understand he just snores off and sleeps when I talk about it. He doesn’t get the truth of the matter. I have only friends and you people to talk about all this to.
The biggest joke is that after he left, I have not shed a tear either. That girl who had an affair with the man I married, is not coming home because she is scared of me. But I actually want to say thanks to her.
I am 54 now, since 14 I am like this only. There has been no change.
When I went to my husband’s house, his brother’s son’s wife was there. So she was not happy in her marriage.
So when we were talking, we got a chance once. She had 3 kids and I had 2. After sending the kids out to play, we got a chance.
But she was then thinking about whether what we did was a sin.
I never had any such thoughts at all. She didn’t not have a lesbian tendency, she was just looking for temporary relief.
I realised that she wanted to know my sexuality and then make her husband use it, I came to know this later.
Then she said you have to do this with my husband. I said I have no interest in your husband.
Even if you say it a million times, I won’t be interested.
So after that she never spoke about our relation either and I would treat her with a distance. I never asked if she wanted to continue or what it was like or anything.
Being an educated person, I realised she was just using that for exploitation. She wanted to see the extent of my sexuality.
She didn’t realise that I had lesbian tendency at all. She didn’t realise that I wanted to enjoy a woman in her entirety or that I was cross dressing as a woman.
When I go for work also, all my work friends are also gents.
They will crack all kinds of jokes in front of me. They would say, this teacher will not think bad about us and share adult jokes in front of me.
But if a lady teacher were to come, they wouldn’t talk like that at all. None of those Professors treated me as a woman either.
So the gents got me at some level. Then I realise when I walk with gents I feel more comfortable.
So, if I am going by train, I will get on the most crowded general compartments.
Even if I make a lot of friendships with gents I never feel any attraction for them.
I feel suffocated in the ladies’ compartment.
They won’t understand that I am also a man.
Because I am in women’s clothes, they see me as a woman. I feel anxious when I see them also. What happens to a man stuck in a ladies’ compartment?
That’s what happens to me also.
I cannot sit there. I ate homeo medicines for this. But there was no point.
Either the ladies should be with me or recognise my identity. Some people might think this is a mental disease but for me it is my identity.
Sometimes, I say I am a lesbian, I will do something. I have told many women this, when I have had the courage. When they lean against me, I say don’t lean on me, if a man leans at least I get some pleasure.
I just say it as a joke. But inside in some corner, when they lean, I feel excited and want the women to come to me.
I feel like a man in this case. If a woman is leaning against a man and not giving into him, he won’t like it. It is the same way with me. That is why I don’t go close to ladies.
Even on facebook I have a lot of male friends and they say this is a fake id, you are a man. We know who you are etc.
Even on the phone when I speak, they don’t feel it is a woman.
So I say I am a woman but later I tell them, I am a man in women’s clothes.
If it is allowed for me to go teach in pant and shirt I will go only in that dress. I am very interested in that. When I go for evaluation also, I go like that.
I will hang out with male teachers, read the books they read etc. So, even on facebook discussions, they say , you don’t talk like a woman, you are a man.
I have put my identity card on fb with all details. They don’t believe that I am a woman.
When they crack vulgar jokes, I say I am not interested in men like that. I would act with my train friends as a woman. So, one of my travel friends, who used to drop me at home, would lean against me. I would think anyway I feel nothing, let him lean.
They will drop me for free till about 50 kms, so I feel it is good for me.
So, this train friend says I remember the old times. I said it is not old, I feel like all that is happening now.
If I have come with you on the bike somewhere, for me, it is like it happened today.
It is not a big deal for me. I have never felt I need to hide it, or it is a shameful thing.
I have never told any man that I am a lesbian.
But lesbianism is what you say when two women love. I love women as a man, the sex is loving not violent. And women who are used to violent sex with men, like me.
Of the 2 relations I had, I saw my cousin when I was 39, and she asked do you still have those desires and I said yes. So, she also said she does have some feelings and then we got another chance.
It was better because there were no restrictions, we were at her husband’s place. Her mother was in the hometown and my mother had died.
But she wanted me to sleep with her husband also.
I told her, I have the same feelings I had when I was 19, I cannot behave with him, how I am with you.
I have travelled to Kasaragode, Trivandrum even outside the State but I always go alone. I have never felt any issue, I don’t understand why women are so scared.
I don’t know if it is because we were raised in Kerala, because North Indian girls are very bold.
People would ask , you are alone? And I would say, we come into this world alone , we have to go alone. Malayalees find it baffling when I speak like that.
I don’t know why that is.
After 5 years of my first marriage only I got married again.
At that time, everyone would have sympathy for me which I did not want.
I studied for MA , BeD and got rank etc.
I never felt shattered or anything by the marriage breaking.
The trauma came from, people asking why are you not wearing your wedding chain, will he not come, where is he, have you divorced , why are you wearing pants etc.
I would think why can’t they shut up and not meddle in other people’s affairs.
I never went anywhere for 2 years, then I started going out without giving much thought to what they were saying. My present marriage if you ask if it is happy, I would say it is.
He is a slender man, doesn’t fight , doesn’t yell. He is very ladylike, submissive. We are separated by a gap of 14 years. We fight but next minute we are fine. He has no health issues. And I don’t either.
I want to continue like this. I don’t feel like everyone should be like me, but there should be a space to come out and talk about identities freely. I want that.
I do not see my identity as a lack or mental issue. That is why I was ready to talk to you both also openly.
I knew about surgery etc when I was 20 in a book "All about love and sex". I knew about it, but I didn’t want that. I felt there was no option but to look like a woman and live as one.
But I feel most happy when I wear men’s clothes.
I feel we should not confuse gender and sex. Gender means even being in the attire of woman I should be able to identify my gender.
From this year, sex education has been introduced. I feel like whatever the body is , people should be able to live in whatever gender the choose. Instead of asking what the sex is, what the gender is, is a better question. And whatever that person says is the gender should be accepted.
It is not upto the society to decide what is that person’s gender.
Sex is not to be thrust upon that person.
If I am Brahmin and married to a Pulaya, then I will identify as Pulaya.
So the moment one recognises one’s gender, we should be able to declare it. Nobody should laugh about it.
I will wear what I want. If that freedom is there, then it will be good.
Earlier, eunuchs would be made into a comedy and would be identified a certain way of dressing etc.
I have read about hermaphrodites also who are born with ambiguous genitals and other characteristics also. Which sex will you fix hermaphrodites with?
There is no need to say they are not there in Kerala and shut your eyes.
They are there in Kerala also in large numbers.
There are people who want corrective surgery, SRS etc.
But my opinion, I want to be called Madhu, as a man, to use male pronouns for me.
When I call customer care for Vodafone, they address me as Sir. When I say my name they get baffled.
My name is a girls’ name but I cross dress like this only for society’s acceptance.
When we recognise our gender, take a chosen partner and live in public as whatever gender we pick. This is not dependant on what surgery or anything but on freedom to identify any way we want.