The Operation Theatre of the swanky hospital in Gurgaon was reverberating with the cries of just born infant. Outside the OT, the anxious father, Sudhir Roy paced the short corridor, clearly stressed out for this was his first baby. The nurses came out with bundle from which the cries still emanated. Sudhir rushed to the nurses and looked at them enquiringly. The nurses looked at each other and the senior matron announced, “Sorry, Mr. Roy, your wife has delivered a transgender.”
Sudhir looked at the infant and face crinkled with hatred. The parents of Sudhir and Swapna were all present but none ventured to have a look at the baby. In fact both sets of parents excused themselves and left the hospital immediately. The little life was discarded within minutes of its birth.
Swapna has been moved to a single bed room. Sudhir quietly entered and stood by the bed. Swapna was looking at the sky through the room but could sense Sudhir’s presence. She turned towards him and said, “The kid must be feeling hungry, why aren’t they bringing him to me?” Sudhir pressed Swapna’s hand and said, “You will have to forget him. We can’t give the kid our name and that’s final.”
“But what’s his fault? He is still our child.” Swapna persisted.
“May be but we don’t want the child anywhere near us. We shall wait and by God’s grace we will be proud parents to a healthy child.” Sudhir replied with straight face and left to meet Dr. Anjali Bhatnagar, the head of Gynecology in her chamber.
“You are unnecessarily accusing us Mr. Roy. This is a genetic disorder” said Dr. Anjali Bhatnagar as Sudhir sat down.
“So many Ultra Sounds were done and none of the technicians or the doctors could make out?” Sudhir blurted out in frustration.
“I am sorry but it really did not show up.” Dr. Bhatnagar defended.
“Do you realize doctor how humiliated the whole family is feeling? How will we say that we are blessed with a eunuch, sorry transgender?” asked an aggrieved Sudhir.
“I can understand your discomfort Mr. Roy but we are helpless in the matter.” Dr. Bhatnagar replied.
“No, doctor, you don’t understand. Please don’t get the child anywhere near my wife and as soon as possible send child to its community.” Sudhir stormed out the chamber.
The infant did not realize that it’s birth has created such a discord and confusion but the nurse could sense and in the short duration her motherly instinct had developed a special bond with the baby. She knew what needs to be done. She called up her husband Aabir Chatterjee, professor at prestigious business school in the city.
“Hi, are you free to talk now? I have something important to ask you.” Ankita spoke on the phone.
“I was just getting into the class but tell me what it is” Aabir said from the other end.
“Okay, tell me, do you hate transgender kids?”
“No, why should I hate them? In fact I love all children irrespective of their color, race, and religion.”
“Well, if one such kid calls you Dad, how will you feel?
“Can you elaborate please, Ankita?”
Nurse Ankita Chatterjee briefly explained to her husband. Prof. Aabir Chatterjee said “This is a very bold step, Ankita. I am very much with you. Let’s figure out the legal formalities quickly.”
Prof. Aabir Chatterjee was known as a liberal and forward looking teacher and his students simply adored him. Ankita and Aabir had been trying for long time to have a baby on their own but the tests have proved conclusively that they cannot. Ankita’s love for her husband just went up by few notches as she became the proud mother of the little infant. Within days the legal formalities were completed and little Rishi came home to make Ankita and Aabir’s family complete.
Aabir’s mom from Siliguri called up agitatingly “Babu, what have you guys done? You didn’t think of our status even for once?”
“Ma, I don’t think we have done anything wrong.” Aabir had replied calmly.
Ankita’s parents had come down from Kolkata to put sense in their daughter and son-in-law but the proud parents of Rishi had been adamant. “You could have adopted a healthy child from any of the orphanages. What will you do with it?” exasperated mother of Ankita had reasoned with them.
“Will nurture him and make him a good human being. And who told you that Rishi is not a healthy baby?” retorted an irritated Ankita.
Naturally, both set of parents decided to keep their distance to maintain their dignity in society.
The maid working at their house was excited to take care of the infant but the moment she tried to change the nappy she couldn’t help yelling out “Oh my god, what is this?” And that was enough for Ankita to sack her then and there.
Ankita had seen few transgender at the traffic signal begging, she decided to approach the friendly one. She explained the situation and requested her to find one among them to take care of Rishi. She warned that if other transgender(s) get to know, they will take away Rishi as per the prevailing custom. She promised to look around and within days brought another middle aged transgender named Shanti to Anika who appointed her immediately to look after Rishi. Shanti not only took extreme good care of Rishi while the parents were away at work but protected him from all possible threat from the transgender community.
With time Rishi grew up to be a cute boy with curly hair and bright eyes and spoke in a melodious voice. Ankita took him to the local kindergarten school for admission and was surprised to note that there is no “other” option under the Sex column. After much hassle and threat of legal action, the school admitted Rishi. Thus began the journey of Rishi. In time, he joined the regular school, it wasn’t easy but Ankita was adamant and ensured that the authorities are convinced with her logical arguments. Many a times in her struggle to provide Rishi a loving and secured life, Aabir could not be with her because of academic commitments but Ankita had been relentless in her endeavor. She would never back out from her responsibility towards her son, Rishi. With passage of time Rishi had shown his brilliance in both studies and sports. He is now in the seventh grade.
I am Rishi…
I am now in class ten of a all boys school. I understand that I am different from my classmates, even from other students in the school as well. My father is the Dean of a prestigious business school and my mother is the Chief of Nursing Staff in a big multi specialty hospital. I am very sincere in my studies because I have realized that that’s my only option. Still, I do not have any friends in the class or in the school. In every exam I am always second with difference of just 1 or 2 numbers from the first boy. I don’t understand where and how I lost those numbers. My mother always tell me that it doesn’t matter if you are first or second but one should learn the core of the subject with complete sincereity.
I love playing football. MY performance as a striker in the school team is very impressive but still I am not the captain of the team. I don’t know why but I have been consistently scoring goals to win matches and championship for school.
There is a girl’s school across the road and many of my classmates regularly ‘date’ some of the girls. I too liked one of the girl and told my mother so. My parents looked at each other then my mom said, “Rishi, this is not the time for such frivolous things. You must concentrate on your studies and grow up to be man loved and respected by all, not just one girl.”
I was moved by mom’s words and felt the urge to make her happy… make her proud. In the high school board exams, I did very well. My result was fantastic… I ranked first in the school and third in the NCR region. The first boy of the school was much behind me for a change. Mom was thrilled and so was Dad.
One day, when I was in 12th, while returning from the tuition class, alone, as I never had any friends for company, I suddenly saw the girl I had a crush. She waived at me and I stood still. She came over and said “Aren’t you Rishi? I am Neera.”
“Yes. Do you know me?” I blurted out.
“Yes, how can I not know the brilliant boy that you are?”
“What do you know about me?”
Neera was stumped. She stammered “I don’t know much but have heard few rumors.”
I crossed my hand across my chest and said “All those rumors are actually true. Are you doing the right thing by talking to me in public space?”
“Why are you saying that?” Neera asked in all innocence.
“Neera, in the last 12 years, I have not made a single friend in the school. Every year, I miss out the first position by 1 or 2 numbers. I score goals consistently for my school football team but still I am not the captain. There must be something wrong with me. Isn’t it so?”
“But you are brilliant. And that’s the truth.” Neera persisted.
“May be, but the bigger truth is incomprehensible and unacceptable to the masses. My mom and dad had adopted me. My biological parents had rejected me within minutes of my birth and I don’t know them and have no desire to know as well. I don’t know my grandparents from either side. They have never bothered to see their only grandchild. In fact my parents have been disowned by their parents for the crime of adopting me. Now tell me.. is there any bigger truth that you know of me?”
“But look wise you are no different from other boys.”
“Goodbye Neera. I know the truth. And this truth is irreversible. No one can change it. Yes, I like you but I am not inclined to pursue the matter which is not possible. Still, you talked to me… I will always remember this evening. Take care.”
I had hastily come back home and locked myself in my room. I was choking with emotions. My teenaged heart was aching. I had to strangle my love for Neera forever.
Every day on my way to the hospital, I see couple of transgender at the traffic signal. They are just like with the difference that they were not lucky enough to find Ankita-Aabir in their life. I took out a hundred rupees currency note and gave it the one and she blessed me saying “God bless you son.” Just like my mom.
Today, I have a surgery to perform. I am neither a man nor a woman but I help give birth to children of man and woman. I am a gynecologist of repute now but today’s surgery is different. The patient is middle-aged woman with a tumor in her uterus. It has been there for some time and now when it has become unbearable, she has come for the surgery. The uterus has to be removed. She doesn’t have any children.
I entered the OT… anesthesia has been administered… I asked for the forceps.
Surgery has been successful. The patient will move to the room for recuperation. The husband of the patient came to my chamber to discuss and understand the post-surgery precautions. As he was leaving, he suddenly stopped and said “You know doctor, when Swapna and I became parent for the first time, I could not accept the little one and forced Swapna to accept my decision. I had thought we will again become parents but look at the nature’s justice… we are childless now.”
“Why couldn’t you accept your first born?”
“I thought the next one will be a healthy baby.”
“What was the problem with your first born?”
“Actually… I mean… he… it was a transgender child. It was born in this hospital only. I don’t know if it is now in some shelter home or may be one of the beggar at the traffic signals.”
“Or perhaps, he has conquered the life’s struggle and reached the pinnacle of his career. That too is possible, isn’t it?”
“How’s that possible?”
“How can I say, Mr.Roy? I am just talking about the possibility. Anyways, it is time for my visiting the patient wards. You can visit your wife once she is shifted to the room but please do not talk much, she needs to take rest. Take care.”
Walking down the corridor of the hospital wearing the doctor’s white apron and stethoscope hanging from my neck… I am Dr. Rishi Chatterjee, the only son of my proud parents – Ankita and Aabir Chatterjee. My life could have been just like what Mr. Sudhir Roy expected but no, I have or rather the life did not allow me to succumb but conquer the adversity and be successful…
Note: I don’t know the author of the Bengali version that I received in WhatsApp Group but it touched a chord in my heart. I hope I have been able to do justice to the nuances of the original story telling.