Men, Women and Them

Written By

Mamata Kolte

Men,women and them-03 Loading

 

I was again late for office and was running up to the platform when I saw my local arriving at the station. I ran as fast as I could because I did not want to have to explain to my manager that I’d missed my train yet again. I had a first class pass and I sped up faster to get to the nearest first class section. The second class bogie was nearer but more than getting late, I hated the daily arguments of the ladies in the rush of the second class.

As soon as I reached my compartment, I thought — Oh no! Not again. I saw them sitting right at the entrance blocking the way. I hated it. I was thinking, ‘why don’t they go elsewhere. Why here?’ I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get in, as asking them to give me way so I could enter quickly would start – I don’t know what it would start. I was fearful; embarrassed to talk to them, like everybody else.

But then one of them shouted loudly to another, “Let her get in, move!” I jumped up and as I did, the train started moving. I was breathless, and I quickly moved to the opposite gate, away from them. My lungs were working on overdrive and so was my mind. “How thoughtful were they! They could have ignored me like other women on the local do and not bothered whether I got on or not. But they didn’t.” I glanced at them thinking they might be waiting for me to say thank you or smile, but they continued their loud conversation like nothing had happened.

They were used to people ignoring them, or rather,  pretending to ignore them. In reality, everyone in the compartment kept a watchful eye, but averted it if any one of them looked back. Some men and women were clearly annoyed by their talk and others seemed to think it fun to watch and tease them with silent words and expressions. All of them were aware of this but seemed unfazed.

Why do these people always travel in groups? Why do they live in slums, and only where there are others like them? Why don’t they live with their families? The answer is that their own families abandon them. Society abandons them. They are not considered normal even though they are natural. Men and women are embarrassed to accept them as a part of their world.

Why cannot we accept them like they are? What do they do that makes us so uncomfortable?

They themselves, more than others, would want to be ‘normal’ and lead a normal life. It was not their decision to be born ‘different’ and live like pariahs on the fringes; especially in a country like ours where being different is an issue.

They do act differently from men and women, but there is a reason for that. That is the only means by which they can earn a living because our so-called sophisticated society refuses to accept them. If a few of them even try to have the courage to live and work in the mainstream, we tease and harass them to the extent that they give up. We don’t even allow them to stand up for their own rights.

They can do everything that a man and woman can do. Being able to produce the next generation is not the only thing for which a human is born.  And even if it was, there are many men and women who choose not to. So why are they persecuted alone?

I once read that one of the greatest needs of a person is being respected and needed. They are not respected in our society and are forced to live a worthless life, and are thus not needed either.

They need to be educated like men and women. They need to be allowed to work like other men and women, to live a normal healthy and happy life like men and women; and they need to be respected.

I started wondering what I could do from my end that could help ease their pain of being eternal aliens in their own world? My station was arriving. I started to move to the door where they all sat. They saw me coming and moved to give way to me to get down. I got down and turned back. I smiled and said ‘thank you’. They smiled and said loudly in unison, “Thank you, too!” The other men and women in the compartment laughed at this exchange. My eyes almost filled with tears and I quickly moved on, mentally berating their tormentors.

It seemed like they have accepted the behaviour they get as part of their life. But we need to understand that this behaviour is hurtful and that we men and women are not the only human beings created by God. That there are three kinds of human beings on this earth: Men, Women and Them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mamata is an energetic, optimistic person who believes that anyone can do anything if one wants to. She loves to travel, write poems, watch movies, cook, garden and sing. Mamata follows her heart in anything that she does and thus can not do any thing just for the sake of doing it.

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