Many people, Many desires
Director: T. Jayashree
Duration: 00:53:46; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 13.907; Saturation: 0.350; Lightness: 0.331; Volume: 0.159; Cuts per Minute: 0.056; Words per Minute: 52.626
Chandini talking about her name and joining the Hijra community.
My name is Chandini. I am from Mysore. I have been here for the past 8 years.
8 years ago I joined the hijra community. Here I was given name Chandini. For the past 8 years I am living here as Chandini. As soon joined the community, I was taken to Bombay. During the train journey, the elders from the community who were accompanying me gave me the name Chandini. The name sounded nice and I agreed to it.
Chandini talking about her family, growing up and school years.
Q: As a child how did you get to know that you might be different and
As a young child, I was like a boy, I dressed as a boy, I didn't know
then about the girl inside me. I would help at home and make rangoli
the boys would ask me to play with them, but I liked being with the
girls. I realised this but I couldn`t express this feeling to anyone.
I wasn't sure about myself, so I didn`t dare to ask anybody
Q: Tell us something about your family, your town...
I am from a small village in Mysore district. My family consisted of
my parents, grandmother and me.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
No, I was the only child.
Q: You were saying that as a child you preffered playing with the
girls, being the only son in the family, how did that figure?
Since there was no girl child in my family, I was brought up as a
girl when I was very young. Apparently as a baby I was dressed up
like a girl with flowers in my hair etc... I don't remember any of
this, my aunts say so. In school I continued playing with girls and
being with them, I would not share my notes with the boys. Mostly I
was friends only with the girls. I was civil to the boys but there
were no friendships.
Chandini talking about school years and her eventual discovery of her sexuality.
Q : Did the kids in the school bully you?
Yes, definitely. I was in Sixth grade, my parents sent me to a
boarding school nearby. Till then I knew within me that I was like a
girl but in the hostel I met another person like me. He was from a
nearby village. We had a cultural evening during the festival season
that's when everyone got to know about me. I danced in the show with
this friend, she and I became very close friends. From sixth grade on
we have been together as boys, later we both became hijras, underwent
castration and lived close by, two years ago she died until then we
were really close friends. We had a lot of trouble from both our
families. My family didn't want me to be with her neither did her
family. They knew she was a girl but still didn't want her to be
friends with me. But still we maintained our friendship till she
Q: Inspite of all the bullying, the both of you remained together?
When I was in 6 grade, only after meeting her did I realise that I am
a kothi, till then I didn't know that I was a kothi. she was
two years older than me, knew a lot more than me, she knew how to
have sex with men, I didn't know all of this then. We would discuss a
lot not about sex initially but more about how to dress like a woman,
about music and dance. In fact I was very keen on dancing and wanted
to pursue it further, but it was while dancing that the other
men and boys started teasing saying different things, and would
demand why we are not dancing like them and playing sports etc...once
we insisted on being like women, they started alienating us from
them. When I was in higher grades I started developing sexual
feelings towards other boys but I was scared as I was also a boy.
Since both of us were boys, I was not sure how he would take it.
Chandini talking about the problems she faced in her family due to her sexuality.
Q: How about your family? How did they react?
At home my parents were very affectionate, fulfilled all my wishes.
Once in the village, we decided to put up a play. Everyone wanted
male roles. I wanted the female role even though the teacher knew I
was male, in the selection test I played a role of woman singing.
Immediately the teacher said okay you will play the female lead. I
was very thrilled but there was a catch. We all had to pay money for
the production. I had no money I was thinking of doing some work and
getting the money somehow. But my parents got to know that I have
been selected for the female role, my futher got very angry and said
I will pay the money if you play the male role, if you act as a
female we will lose our face in the society. I didn't know what to
do, I was very adamant but somehow I reconciled and gave up. But the
teacher wouldn't let me be. He said, at least you do one dance in the
play and don`t have to give any money which was big break for me
because everyone has to pay to perform. Somehow I decided to go ahead
with it, I had to shave my moustache, my father saw me and threatened
to kill himself if I went on stage. Even in the group, one other
dancer who was a man, also my sexual partner said I shouldn't
dance because I was better than him, so he threatened me and tried to
torture me. Finally I decided to put on very little make up and
danced the only item I was supposed to do. When I got home there was
a huge fight in the house and slowly everyone at home got to know
Chandini talking about her first exposure to the Hijra community.
Q When did you find out about the Hijra commnity?
When I was a boy. I would go to my aunt's village for holidays, she
had a snack shop next to a liquor store and I used to help her out in
the shop. Sometimes I'd be sent to fetch liquor from a nearby store,
there the son of the owner was from my school, he knew I was a like a
girl, butl didn't know then about sex, he would grab my hand and
wouldn't let go, would refuse to give me change after buying the
liquor, would ask me to come later. Whereas my aunt would insist I
should get the money back, so every time I would go back he'd tease me saying be careful, they will take you away to Bombay and sell you. I never understood and would wonder who are these people in Bombay who will buy me. As time went on I saw movies, met a few hijras - who lived in Bombay - who were
from our neighbouring village. I would only look at them, never dared
to talk to them , because I was scared of them. Also scared of other
peole, if anyone tells my father then he would beat me up. I was
Chandini talking about her effeminate traits while growing up and conflicts within the family.
Q: Knowing your inclination towards dance, makeup and such...did your parents ever try to force you into behaving like a boy?
My parents would often try to tell me that I should behave like a
man, I was the only son but I would always dress up. In the evenings
I would put cream in my face, put powder whereas the other boys would
just wash their face and wear the lungis that men often wear to
relax. But I was very different so my parents would start
saying - why you are using powder, why do you comb your hair like
this? They started demanding things from me.
Chandini talking about joining the Hijra community in Bangalore.
Q: Did you join the Hijra community on your own? How was this contact
When I went to visit my aunt for a festival in Srirangapatna, I had
made new clothes for myself, the tailor recognised I was a kothi and
made my kurta like a woman's kurta, tight fitting. I wore it and went
to visit my aunt when she saw me, she said I know someone who is like
you and took me to visit this person, who had undergone castration. I
was very taken in, I wanted to know how this person lived, so decided
to visit her. She was very nice. She gave me coffee and talked to me,
and told me if I ever wanted to visit I should go to Bangalore there
is a hamam where a lot of kothis lived. When l heard hamam, I thought
it will be some 5 star kind of hotel where men came to bathe
and there would be massage services but didn't know until I joined
the Hijra community. Anyway she gave me the address of Tannery
Road Hamam in Bangalore. Then I went back to my school after some
time my friend had a lot of problem at home, I told her about the
Hamam in Bangalore. The very next day, she had an argument at home
and left the house. She asked me for the address and went to
Bangalore. I continued with my pre-university degree, in college I
met a man and fell in love very deeply.
For a year we were together like a married couple. We didn't stay
away from each other for long. He would bring sweets for me, I would
also get things for him, visited his house, we had sex...everybody in
the college knew about us. I wrote poetry for him, would write one
poem every minute, I used express myself this way, The whole college
knew about such love for another man being a man myself. He wanted to
publish my poem in the paper...but I refused. We then fought with
each other, I felt very depressed and tried committing suicide, this
is the time my friend came back from Bangalore. All this happened
while she was away which was nearly an year, she counselled me saying
why you want kill yourself over a man, the world is big, come wih me,
the same man will come to you in a while...so I decided to go with
her. Without telling anyone I left for Bangalore with her.
Q: How old were you?
About eighteen or nineteen.
Q: Where did you stay in Bangalore?
I was brought to the Hamam first, saw different people, all were
women, some were castrated, some were not but wearing saris, some
looked very muscular, I got scared. While I was sitting there a
friend I knew who is a hijra who lived with her partner came to visit
and she asked me to stay with her so I went to her house for week. In
the meantime, my guru was decided and she sent me to Bombay.
Chandini talking about the selection of a guru and moving to the Hijra community in Bombay.
Q: Who selects your guru? How does the selection process work?
I didn`t know anything about guru etc...when my friend asked me to
live with her, I found out that she went for sex work in the evening,
while she was away her partner sold illicit liquor, I got scared. I
didn`t want to get involved in that so I decided to move to another
Hijra's house, that's when they all decided I should be with such and
such guru - who is now no more - this guru decided that I should go
Chandini talking about her experiences in the Bombay Hijra community and her return to Bangalore.
Q: What happened in Bombay?
We stayed in Pune for a night and then went to Bombay, there I was
initiated into the rituals of the hijra community. Everything seemed
very new to me. They asked me whether I knew dancing, I said yes and
then I had to dance. The lady who took me to bombay said don't go
back to Bangalore, stay here for a year doing begging and saving some
money. I also agreed but I didn't have my friend neither did I know
the language, I knew very little Hindi and some english. I was
confused but anyway they asked a person to take me but I didn't
like the house we were in. It was very dirty, the house lady was
drunk all the time and would sleep. She would take all our
money from begging and would not cook any food, we had to eat bread
all the time. I stayed there for two days, they gave me wig to wear.
Then there was a girl from Bangalore there, we went to the bathroom
outside I told her I want to go back to Bangalore, will you come, she
refused, so then I decided to leave. I had 200 Rs from begging, I
took that money and told the lady that I am going to the Railway
station for sexwork, she told me to be careful. I had already
calculated the time and noted the station and road names so
I knew exactly where to get off. I got on the station and asked for
Chandini talking about begging and sex work as means of survival.
Q: When you first moved to hamam, Bangalore - did you have issues
with begging? Did you get shocked or did you accept it for what it
I didn`t like to go for begging. I felt ashamed because I come from a
family which has enough food even though we are a very ordinary
family but unexpected problem with food so I didn't like the fact
that one had to beg...why should we beg? But in that situation where
I want to be free, I want to wear saree if I go home I can't do all
this. I can`t be free so if I am allowed to put make up, wear saree
then I didn`t care much for doing sex work or begging.
Chandini talking about confronting her family and acceptance.
Q: Did your family look for you?
Meanwhile my family started searching they filed a legal complaint on
my boyfriend in college... as I was living in the hostel, they filed
a case against the hostel warden too.
Q: When did your family get to know that you were here in Bangalore?
|After two or three months, I felt I am a woman, I thought I will go and
check out my college and I thought I felt I a woman no one would
recognise me as I had started wearing a wig, but people knew I was a
hijra, but in my mind I thought I was a woman so I went there one
night, I went to a hijra's house who lived in men's clothes but
he refused to let me in. It was the middle of the night so I went to
a friend's house, he asked me why have you come here...I asked him to
give me some men's clothes, I changed my clothes and hid my woman's
clothes and slept in the courtyard. In the morning I went to
college, met some close friends, they all advised me to finish my
exams and others came. And then the warden came, took me to a room
and locked me up with a boy to watch me. Two of my friends were sent
to fetch my parents as they filed a case against the warden. I tried
sweet talking the boy and went to a hotel to eat, there also they
followed me and then finally the warden took me to his house. My
parents came and they cried and everybody scolded me and took me
home. My friends came. My parents agreed to rent a room
so that I can finish my studies. I didn't want to stay in the hostel
so they took me back and asked me to stay one night in the hostel.
As soon as my parents left I took the next bus and came back to Bangalore.
Then I kept visitng them but as a man. I never went in women's attire, I would take gifts for my mother but always as their son. Even after I went through castration, inspite of my long hair continued to visit them wearing men's clothes. Only recently I started visiting them wearing a saree.
Chandini talking about home, family and acceptance.
Q: Has the situation improved with your family?
My family knew I was involved in singing, dancing but didn't know I
was castrated, my hijra friends would tease me because I had long
hair and I wore men's clothes when I visited my family, finally I
decided to visit as I am. so I went home one night, when I got there,
my friends rushed home and told my mother look your son is
here. When she saw me, she fainted after that my father came shouted
at me saying don't come here, you are not our son, I said why do you
speak like this and I told him I am not your son anymore, I am a
woman. I lifted my saree and told him about castration. He refused to
acknowledge me, my neighbours came and tried to console him. Somehow
they tried to reconcile, I go home but I don't get respect. When I am
home, my father leaves the house and comes back only after I leave. I
think he feels his son has become like this...