Mona, story of an excluded human who’s above sexes and genders
by, Arshi Yaseen
Lucky had disappeared suddenly from Mona’s life. It had been about one week when he had come to see hir last time. It’s a lovely night! They had dinner together and then talked for hours on the topics of shared interest. They talked about behaviours and expressions of people. Then they talked about the future of their relation, the relation that’s forbidden one. And while he was leaving, he said, “Take care of yourself, season is changing. Changing season causes diseases.” During the whole talk, nothing has happened, neither he had said anything that would indicate he’d not come again.
After that meeting he didn’t have any contact with hir. Ze called him many times but couldn’t reach him. His absence had made hir restless. Ze couldn’t sleep for many nights and neither had eaten properly. Hir mind was obsessed by only thought. “Why has he not come for many days? God forbid that he has got some serious problem.” And that concern then met a pray. May God keep him all right! That concern forced hir to go to his door.
“Who’s there?” A child asked from behind the door. “Mona,” ze told hir name in a feminine tone, hir typical hijra tone had suppressed itself. The child opened the door but seeing a hijra at the door, he turned back immediately. “There is ___, he came, ___ no, she came. He/she.” He told his grandmother confusedly. “Who came?” she asked him while telling beads at the prayer mat.
“Hijra.” “Oh!” Signs of worriedness appeared on her face, as that had happened what she feared. Lucky’s family had known about his relation with a hijra. Before that shameful relation would bring curse upon them, and ruin their reputation, they had taken necessary measures.
“May God save our reputation!” A pray came out of her heart. “Go and see, who is at the door.” She asked his son, who was elder to Lucky.
“What brought you her.” His asked looking at hir with contempt.
“I am Mona. I have come to see Lucky,” she answered in a defeated voice.
“There’s nobody here by that name,” he said nastily and slammed the door.
“I know this is the address. ___ Where’s he? please ask him to see me once, ___ then I’ll leave. ___ Ze paused for response. ___ Let me know if he is all right,” ze asked a little bit louder now.
“Why do you need to ask all this? Get lost from here. Leave my son for God’s sake, ___ and for yourself find a hijra like you.” His mother said rudely from behind the ajar door.
Then she started cursing hir. Ze wanted to respond to her in the same foul tongue, but went away quietly and sat at a corner of the street to wait for him.
Ze didn’t want to return without seeing him. Ze called his number again, but again hir call didn’t get through.
Meanwhile Lucky’s younger brother and some boys came and sat by hir. They all started teasing hir mimicking typical hijra words, Ai hai, Ai hai, and clapping their hands loudly in a hijra style.
Ze didn’t react, instead stood up to leave. One of them held hir hand and said playfully, “Mona darling, wouldn’t you swing your waist.” All of them cackled. Then another one touched hir cheek. Ze responded it with an abuse. It enraged them. They all stood up and started beating hir with their fists and legs.
Many people gathered around but nobody came forward to save hir, as ze deserved this violence. “Don’t beat him. Leave this wretch.” Only an old man registered his sympathy, but in a restrained voice, as he would lose his reputation if he would sympathize with hir openly.
Ze had returned hir home meeting wounds and hatred instead Lucky. This hatred was not new for hir; Ze was familiar to it since the day ze was born with a sexual defect, ze was neither AMAB nor AFAB; neither he, nor she. Hir sex was named third sex. Since ze lost either gender, ze lost love too, and got only hatred.
Hir grandmother said to hir mother nastily, “You had better die before begetting this kind of creature,” hir mother cried over her misfortune. Ze cried too. Her words had pierced deep into hir pint-size heart.
A newly born baby is made to lick honey on the day of birth; Mona was made to lick these poisonous words, more poisonous even than venom.
Next day, hir mother probed into hir body that she could discover something that could make hir fit for the known genders. Suddenly hir father walked in and lifted hir. He had decided to take hir away to the place where the people of hir gender lived, the fallen humans like hir, who don’t deserve a family, and neither care, concern and respect.
“Ma, why do we all clap in this way? Other people don’t clap like this.” Four years Mona asked Baji Gul clapping with spread fingers.
“Because we are not others.” Baji Gul answered hir smilingly.
“Then who are we?” Mona asked stressing on the word “We”.
“We are we.” Baji Gul tried to evade hir concern.
“We are nothing.” Shehla, who was sitting quietly for long, said in a bitter tone.
“Ze would understand by hirself as ze would grow older. Why you need to tell hir,” Baji said to Shehla.
“We are nothing beta. ‘Nothing’ is our existence ‘Nothing’ is our identity. Shehla repeated ignoring Baji’s point.
Baji took a long breath and looked at little Mona whose mind was too little to understand all this, ___ We, ___ Others, ___ and the curse of being nothing.
As the time passed, Mona’s bitter experiences introduced hir life the reality. God created hir body different from others but He had made hir heart ‘same’. Only He knows, why?
Whenever ze saw any child walking in the middle of his parents, holding father’s hand in one hand and mother’s hand in the other, how many desires would wake up in hir heart, ___ the desire of being secured, the desire of being cared, and the desire of having a family, but ze had realized these desires would remain desires, as ze was not a complete human being.
This feeling of being incomplete felt like a curse, and it would intensify when the normal beings, those who’re the complete ones, would treat hir feelings like a dustbin, in which they could throw whatever they want. Whenever they felt like they would throw flirtation in it, and whenever they liked they put hatred in it. Sometimes they had a concern to throw in it, either in form of coins or in form of pity. But in every way hir feelings would hurt.
In these seventeen years of hir life, ze had learnt how to deal with these hurt feelings. Whenever any of hir feeling would hurt, ze would bury it alive in the depths of hir heart. And one day ze had buried all of hir feelings. Now ze had been devoid of any and living a lifeless life, and then one day ze met Lucky.
It’s a cool evening of December when Shabnam, Sweetie and ze all three were collecting alms at a crossroad, while the signal was off. There ze saw Lucky on a bike waiting for the light to turn green. He was a handsome boy of nearly nineteen. He was looking relax. Wheatish skin, black hair and hazel eyes, ___ he had everything attractive. “Please give me something in the name of God,” ze asked him in hir typical style. “What do you want?” He asked in a mischievous tone. “Anything,” ze responded in the same tone. He took a hundred-rupee note out of his wallet and put it on hir spread palm. “Here’s my heart.” His eyes gleamed. Ze had seen a light full of life in those hazel eyes and ze stole that life.
Ze had found a lovely friend in form of Lucky. Since he came to hir life ze began to know hirself. Ze realized of hir being existed. Ze felt the feelings buried in the depths of hir heart, they all were still breathing. They all were still alive. They all began to come out from their coffins mourning over their grief.
Ze shared all of them with Lucky. It let hir know, how it was joyful to have the feeling of sharing heart with someone. This feeling filled hir dead soul with life. Lucky returned hir life as Jesus returned life to Lazarus.
“Look! How much I’m looking complete!” Once ze said to him pointing to the mirror. They both stood in the mirror being one. The mirror had created the image that could never have become a reality. “May this mirror never break!” A pray, either a fear, rising from hir heart, had come to hir lips. “I’ll not let it break.” Lucky held hir hand and said adoringly. “I’ll always be there with you like this.”
“Please Lucky come back. Come and see, how incomplete I am without you!” ze was praying to see him again. Ze cried hir heart out. There’s nobody at home who would come to console her. All of hir family, Shehla, Shabnam, Sweetie and Baji Gul, had gone to a Dargah located on the bank of river, to pray for hir. They all were worried to see hir, as ze had gone through a severe pain. Then suddenly hir phone rang. There’s a text message sent from Lucky’s number.
My family told you came to see me today. You shouldn’t have come. Don’t come here again. I don’t want you to create any issue for me and my family. And one thing more, I am getting married on this weakened.
The news of Lucky’s wedding had shocked hir. It’s unexpected. She read the text again that this time the words or the meaning might have changed. “Ah! You didn’t do right by me. How could you do this?” ze burst into tears. Ze called up immediately to his number but again it went off. She typed a message and sent to him.
Marriage ___ But you’re supposed to live your whole life with me. You remember, you promised with me. ___ And I trusted on your every word but you cheated on me.
Ze waited for his response but no reply came from him. “___find a hijra like you.” The teasing words of Lucky’s mother began to echo in hir ears. Those words were piercing hir nerves, and then sounds of, Ai hai, Ai hai___ and a sharp spread fingered clap deepened the pain. Ze felt hir nerves had been wounded and blood was seeping out from their gaping wounds.
“It’s to happen one day. I am responsible for my sorrow. I closed my eyes from the reality of my identity.” Now what xe could do except cursing herself. Why ze took his words seriously. Why ze began to dream of a place that’s called home where there is a family, despite of knowing her truth.
She freed Lucky of any blame. In fact, she couldn’t blame him. Hir mind hadn’t been designed yet to blame others. She picked the phone, read his text again and then hurled it at the mirror. The mirror shattered like his forbearance. Ze walked out of the room leaving behind hir cries.
Hir phone was ringing.
“Nobody knows where ze has gone, I have asked everyone around in the neighbourhood.” Sweetie said in a voice filled with anxiety.
“God, please keep hir in your protection.” Baji Gul prayed while wiping off her tears.
“Insha Allah” Sweetie said while swiping down the contacts on hir phone.
“But where ze could go?” Shehla said with concern.
“She might have been to see Lucky.” Shabnam said, who was reciting Surah Yaseen for hir protection.
“Aye, hai, why she need to go there?” Baji said frustratingly.
“We should check in nearby hospitals, ___ ze might have met an accident.” Shehla said in a broken tone.
“God forbid that ___” Baji said, though same thought had hit hir mind a while ago.
“We should also report to police,” Shabnam suggested.
“No, no. Don’t you remember how badly they treated us last time.” Shehla said agitatedly.
Suddenly there’s a knock at the door. Shehla rushed to the door that it might be Mona there, but ze was surprised to see Lucky instead. “Mona.” He asked looking at hir inquiringly. Before ze could tell him anything, Baji came and asked, “Lucky, where you’ve been, how many times Mona called you.”
“I tell you everything, but first let me know, where is Mona.”
“God knows, where she has gone in our absence. We all have been to Dargah today, when we came back in the evening, ze was missing.” Baji told while sobbing. Lucky stood upset, as many thoughts were coming across his mind.“ Ze went to my home today.” He told Baji. “What? Then?” ze asked anxiously. “I know only this. I didn’t see hir. My family locked me in a room, ___ And they also took my phone.” Lucky was so dejected while telling all this, and he was sorry too, how his family behaved with Mona.
Mona was lying unconscious in ICU. Hir condition was critical. Hir body was attached to devices by different tubes and wires. Doctors had taken many readings from them to access hir condition. The readings only showed uncertainty. The possibility of life was same as the possibility of death. Will he survive or not, nothing was certain. Ze was neither alive completely, nor dead. Hir soul existed in-between state like hir identity.
“Hir condition is not improving,” one of the doctors said. “Let’s see. Hope for the best,” The other replied in a professional tone, and they both left the ICU leaving behind that uncertainty. Besides it, one more thing was present there. That was the smell of medicines and chemicals, which had made the air thick and unpleasant. But the patient had nothing to do with that air, as ze was breathing in an artificial air.
Ze had been brought there in the same state. Ze had attempted suicide by jumping into river. The bystanders called up the rescue team on time. The rescuers, after a hard labour of half an hour, had traced hir body. But they could not start hir breathing, so they took hir to the hospital, though they had not any hope.
After a while, ze opened her eyes but closed them immediately, as Ze had felt some weight upon them. After few seconds, ze opened them again. They were empty of any spirit. Ze moved them around as ze was trying to understand where ze was. Suddenly grief appeared in them, the grief of hir defective identity, the grief of losing someone, ___ or the grief of returning to this cruel world again.
Even death didn’t accept me. ___ What is this? Over my nose and mouth. Oh! I don’t need it. And why should I need it. I don’t want to breathe. ___ I don’t need life. Remove it from my face. Remove it right now. Can you hear me? How you can hear me. For you and many others like you, I and many others like me don’t even exist.
Ze closed hir eyes again. A vision of a bright face emerged in them. It’s Lucky’s face. Ze let hir descend into his memories.
Ze remembered the summer night they spent on roof. “You know how much pretty you are!” He said in a romantic mood. “How much!” ze said coquettishly. “As much, ___” he paused, “As this waxing moon is! ___ As these sparkling stars are pretty! Like this cool breeze! Like ___”. Before he would say more, ze held his hand and said, “You know how much lucky I am, that I have got a friend like you.” After a pause, Ze said smilingly, “Mona is Lucky.” “Mona is Lucky, then Lucky is Mona,” He said with love. “Flirtatious!” His memory intensified hir grief. No medicine, no pray now could help hir.
Two months later.
“Ma, do you need anything else?” Lucky asked Baji Gul. He stood wearing Mona’s clothes and bangles. He pinned up his forward hair like Mona did. Then he left for work with Shabnam and Sweetie. His family had come for many times to reconcile with him and to take him back but he refused to leave Mona’s family. He kept his every word, “Lucky is Mona.”
- Ze, gender neutral subjective pronoun
- Hir, gender neutral objective/possessive pronoun
- AMAB, assigned male at birth
- AFAB, assigned female at birth