There are 2 sides to every coin; one of the morals we all have heard growing up. Not long back, life put me in situations where I got to live through this philosophy. An optimist as I am, in no way do I want to leave the readers with a sad impression lingering over. So I will start with the bad, end with the good and leave the rest to the readers.
9th March 2018, Bengaluru:
It was my husband’s birthday and we just came out of a restaurant after a fine dinner. Suddenly a trans gender lady approached us asking for some money. This is not unusual and many of us do help especially me as you will come across later. My husband was a bit hesitant though; and clearly, if I hadn’t asked him to give some money, we would have moved ahead ignoring her. But I urged him & what followed, was a blow to my pride of always trying to see the better in everyone.
My husband took out a few bucks from his wallet and handed over to the lady. In return, she forwarded her palm in a fashion of hiding something and said in a muffed void that this is a ‘blessing’ or a word of that sort. She told us to keep it in the wallet while my husband was about to put it back to pocket. In the wink of an eye and before we could realize, her hand reached to the wallet, and with expert fingers sliding into it took out all the money and put it in her clothes. My husband, being a perfect gentleman as he was, even requested her to give us some money back so that we can return home. But she vanished round the corner, leaving us hear only her loud cheers to her companions who probably were watching the entire episode lurking in the shadows!
It’s usually believed in eastern India (specially in bengalees) that trans genders, though socially still not acceptable, are special creations of Gods. Anything given by them are a sign of blessing and one should not have any qualms towards accepting it; because even their curses are very powerful and follow you through life. Anyway, I grew up a bit afraid of them but duly respectful & compassionate too. Social pariah as they are till now, I always try &fight my fright to help them, whenever I have a chance. This brings me to the 2nd incident & it is more elaborate than this.
A few months earlier in 2018, Pune:
It was one of those lazy & useless days when I decided to go for some shopping all by myself. As I came out of the mall, I found a trans gender lady approaching people nearby for some alms. I wanted to help & walked towards her, rummaging inside my wallet. I was so sure that I had some mixed notes to give her. But I couldn’t find any. By that time, she had already noticed me and she came towards me.
Now I started feeling embarrassed as she kept waiting & I rummaging. I had bigger notes & all the coins I thought I had, were Baht money; not Indian. Those were the left over pennies me & my husband brought back as memories from Thailand.
‘Sister, if you are looking for change to give me, let me know I have some. How much do you want to give me anyway?’, she asked me suddenly. I got confused.
‘Do you have change of 2,000 Rupees?’, tactfully avoiding answering her as I didn’t plan to give her much in cash. I was under the impression I had cash in coins. She politely answered that someone like her don’t usually have that much of money. True! I knew that even before asking her.
On hearing the clinking noises of the baht coins, she exclaimed, ‘What about the coins?’
It was twilight too. My embarrassment knew no limits and I was at my wit’s end. With all my might and all honesty in my heart I had to explain to her my plight.
‘Actually, I wanted to give you some money. I thought I had enough coins for you but now I see all these are Baht coins, from Thailand. They won’t be of any use to you. I am so very sorry.’
‘You have been to Thailand?’ she exclaimed.
‘Yes’, I said, ‘a few months back’. What for did I have to add the time line I didn’t know but there was a comforting and known tone in her voice that I felt completely familiar with.
‘You seem to be married. Are you? Went with husband is it?’ she asked very happily and with a suppressed cheer in her voice; like a kid.
‘Yes, yes. All these are from that trip, as memories. It was our first trip together. I am sorry, I have nothing. I thought I would…’, but I was stopped in the middle.
‘It’s okay sister, don’t worry. You wanted to give me something, help me. That also is a lot. You are newly weds, you both stay happy.’, she turned around to leave, with not a sign of disappointment. But I couldn’t let her.
‘Wait, I can’t let you leave empty handed. Please take this baht coin from me. It’s not much & it’s not useful to you at all. But I want to give you something..’, I couldn’t finish as my voice started breaking. It put a wide smile on her face – lightened her face up!
‘Thank you so much sister for giving me something from your memories!’ With these words, she blessed me and my husband with all her heart and turned around & left. I can’t recollect the exact words as my heart was too heavy with mixed emotions.
As I hurried to leave & waved at an auto, I turned around one last time and saw her reaching to a group of people sitting nearby, her friends probably. Interestingly, it was just a group of teenagers and kids. She seemed pretty happy and elated; excitedly showing the coin to her friends. I am sure I heard the word ‘Thailand’ from that corner of the street.
‘Where to Madam?’, asked the driver.
Good, that the sky grew darker by then; I didn’t have to put much efforts to hide my eyes from the driver, ‘Karve Road…’ and I left.