Sapna from Delhi shares her story.
““Mama, I am a half boy and a half girl”. I looked at my daughter who
stood in front of me and divided her body longitudinally into two. I didn’t know what to say to her as I felt like her more emotionally than physically.
But, it started physically for me. I was raised in Rajasthan, the state where children grow up on a diet of stories of the Rajput kings. My storyteller was BB, a Rajput lady whose every pore whispered royal elegance. But as soon as she was in my room and the doors were closed, her “odhna” came off, the “ghaghra” became a dhoti and the “jhaadu” became a sword. And she turned into the evil Mughal king and I became Maharana Pratap, the brave Rajasthani king. She was a spontaneous actor or may be she was just herself comfortable in her feminity and masculinity.
She always addressed me as “banna” or prince instead of “banni” or princess. It must have gone to my head as till date I talk to my parents in the masculine gender. When wars were waged in my room with brooms, BB would always say “There is nothing in this world that you can’t do, Sapna banna”. I felt like the king of the world.
I think those days, in many ways, developed the masculine or tough side in me. Though I have embraced my feminity now and I love being a woman, I think a very strong man stays inside me. A bit like Ardhnarishwar – It is said that the state of half man and woman is the most ecstatic state to be in.
I saw this ecstasy turn into euphoria when I was filming “Dhinga Ghawar” festival in Jodhpur, my hometown. It is the day when women, who mostly stay in veils, claim the streets of Jodhpur dressed as men. Rejoicing in their masculinity and exaggerating that feeling by loud overtures, they are a sight of grandeur. I called my film “One night of freedom”.
In my childhood, the world was not divided into pink and blue. Boys wore frocks called “jhablas”. Dark boys wore purple frocks, fair girls wore green shorts, men put henna on their hands and old women smoked bidis. Gender was never a colour. It was never pink or blue. It was the colour of vibrant “thaans”. Couple of metres of fabric was bought and garments were stitched for an entire row of kids. The clothing was “non-gender” – bush-shirt and lowers were just non-fussy, no-frills, just straight lines of stitches running like ants in corridor.
Today things have changed. My eight-year-old daughter, who thinks that she is half boy and half girl, sticks out as a sore thumb. I get “ Oh! She is going to be alright looks” and “really! something is wrong looks”. Her world has been divided into pink and blue and the colours don’t cross. They stay neatly stacked in boys and girls shelves.
“Mama, you know that we all have rectum and vagina?”
Me: Do you think daddy has a vagina?
Daughter: Of course.
I am glad to see atleast in her world everyone is equal.”