The ruthless world
- 3 Posts
- Age 19
We were stuck in a traffic jam in Liberty, Lahore. My mother brooded at the disorderly traffic, while I felt a prickling of delight for getting to hear my favourite Miley Cyrus song for a little while longer.
I sat with my head resting against the car window, lost in thoughts enhanced by a background score of “The Climb.” My train of thought was cut short by my mother’s voice.
Reflexively, I shrunk back from the window.
When I looked up, I saw a beggar standing at my side. Her eyes looked at me expectantly, even pleadingly. She was a reflection of another world – a world completely different than the one that I lived in – a world broken, forlorn, and heartbreaking in its entirety.
She was different than the other beggars. I had seen a few like her on the roads, and every time one of them approached, I was protectively pushed away in another direction.
My mother’s voice thundered again. Instinctively, I looked away.
Moments later, the beggar moved over to another car, and I slipped back into my own world.
The Climb was still playing.
This was 8 years ago. This was when my age was of innocence and wonder. This was when I had too many questions, but little courage to say them out loud.
On that day too, I did not ask questions, maybe because I lacked the courage, or maybe because I knew I won’t be given any answers. But the silence that ensued brimmed with curiosity. There was too much that needed telling, but was left untold.
Even to this day, the image of that beggar whirs in my mind. Her appearance and demeanour set her apart from the rest; her features were manly, but she wore a woman’s clothes. I wondered who she was, and where she came from.
As years slipped by, I realised some truths about her heart-rending and excruciating existence. She was one of those, who the society had refused to accept even as humans.
In 2016, a video of a transgender person being beaten up by a man in Sialkot spread like wildfire on social media. I remember watching that video over and over again, with misty eyes and my gut clenching. If it was this painful to watch, how painful was it for somebody to go through it?
This video was followed by another video of another transgender person making an appeal to the government to help their community. The video was tear-jerking. The appeal, however, was being made to a heartless lot.
Transgender people have never hurt us, but we’ve covered ghastly lengths in making their existence comfortless, meaningless, and dangerously vulnerable. We as a society have failed them.
Every time I see news headlines and social media sites disseminating news of transgender community, wisps of memory spill out from 8 years ago.
In those few moments that I exchanged with the beggar, I became a part of the society imbued with blatant inequality and injustice, a society so cruel, where it even hurts to be a human.
Now when I think about the beggar I met 8 years ago, guilt gnaws at me, and makes my soul blaze. The world is ruthless for some.
We stopped at a signal, somewhere near Liberty.
A beggar came along. The face was different this time, but the story still the same – of a person destitute and in despair, and of a world of unimaginable poverty and ample struggles.
As I looked into her kohl-encircled, intense black eyes, I looked into a ravaged world. Her eyes were pools of sorrow that you couldn’t look into for long.
“They are everywhere. Just don’t look!”
My mother said sharply, but her admonishment fell on deaf ears.
When the beggar came over to my car, I rolled down the window, and handed her a 50 rupee note. She broke into a huge smile, said a prayer, and moved on.
My gaze followed her as she meandered through the cars. I only stopped looking, when she faded into distance, and I could look at her no longer.