Of Journalism

September 25, 2009

The eunuch’s side of the story

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 4:12 pm
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eunuchs

eunuchs

By Fawad Ali Shah @Daily Times, September 25

KARACHI: The body of Haseena, 57, which lay on a bed in the lawn of a five-marla house in Gizri, was surrounded by mourners.
“Tum hamay chor kar mat ja behen. Mat jaa,” cried Bijli, a niece of the deceased, pleading with her aunt to wake up from her eternal sleep. Haseena, born in a respectable Bahawalpur family, was a eunuch, and like most eunuchs, was disowned at the age of five. She was since living with people who she had no sort of blood relation with, but people who understood her pain and accepted her with open arms. One look at her wrinkled face speaks volumes about the troubles and miseries she suffered throughout her life, all due to no fault of her own. According to doctors, she died because her ventricles completely refused passing blood to the rest of the body, a phenomenon they have been unable to explain. Maybe the tussle between heart and mind finally took its toll, as her logical thinking pressured her to accept the stares and abuse hurled at her by society, while her heart pushed her towards revolting against the ‘two-gender’ society.
She could not, however, follow her heart, as the mind had a useful ally in shape of the stomach, and together they forced her to take the walk of shame everyday, begging the same discriminating society for her survival.
Although she passed away early in the morning, according to the traditions of her community, she was to be buried at night. This ritual also comes down to the eunuch community’s exploitation by society, as they believe that their souls are cleansed upon departing the body and the preying eyes of society may mark them again. “They abuse us everyday. We do not want them to see us,” says Bijli, as her eyes turn from white to red, “Their glances contaminate our souls.”
Anjali, 78, the guru or head of the area eunuchs, sits in a corner reciting the holy Quran and trying to console the mourning colleagues. A mixture of jasmine and sweat renders a unique smell, as the temperature rises in the evening. As night falls and the tears dry up, preparations for the burial kick off. She is to be buried in a graveyard near Mohajir Camp, where she would lay in peace along with 81 of her community members.
Only eunuchs are allowed to attend the funeral prayers, which are headed by a male maulana. According to the guru, Anjali, in the funeral prayers, they are considered to be females. She reveals that a grave has been booked and they will travel to the graveyard via buses. The body is taken in an ambulance and the procession follows in other vehicles.
According to her, Haseena had travelled from her home town in Punjab to Karachi in order to earn some extra money, believing the misconception that people in Karachi are less biased towards eunuchs. Haseena used to dance till the age of 35 and had been begging since after. “She always had a smile on her face,” the guru recalls. However, she did bear a grudge against the people of her hometown, as she had requested Anjali to ensure that her body is not taken to Bahawalpur. “According to our traditions, it is necessary that the body be taken back to the hometown,” Anjali said, staring at the dead body and trying to console the inconsolable Bijli, whose tears have not ceased for a minute.
The procession of 31 human beings, who are practically unrecognised by the other two genders, start their journey towards the graveyard in complete silence. Reciting verses from the holy Quran, they bury the body. Without casting a look at her face for the last time, the procession returns. A human came and went, without any identity.

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