Help 'em if you can
They live on the fringes of an insensitive society that looks at them with disdain and derision. They are the transgender persons, the hijras as they are referred to in India. They are neither fully women or men. Or, are they both? Some say they bring in good luck. But why should people have such a dismissive attitude towards them?
These three men were dressed in a faded saffron lungi and shirt. Following them were two more, and one among them, moved towards a roadshide tea shop and extended his hand for alms. The teashop owner refused to give him any money saying those who went ahead had collected. That was a clear lie. The hijra got angry, opened a glass bottle that contained toffees, put his hand inside, took out a palm-full of them and walked away.
I then noticed two more of the group coming up; they were dressed as women. One of them saw the guy picking the toffees, and was clearly upset by that. She chided him loudly and asked him to return them to the shopkeeper. To be sure, she followed him and she apologised to the shopkeeper for the discretion committed by one in the group.
"Sorry, we don't take anything by force. Give only if you wish to give anything," she told the shopkeeper. Then the shopkeeper handed over a Re 1 coin. "If you give, give wholeheartedly," the woman continued.
This time the one who was embarrassed was the shopkeeper. To begin with he could have given them a rupee or two; even a five wouldn't have caused him a loss in business. On the part of the hijaras, it was so refreshing to see her apologise.