IN THE BIVOUAC OF LIFE, I AM JUST ONE OF THE MINIONS

IN THE BIVOUAC OF LIFE, I AM JUST ONE OF THE MINIONS

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In a sprawling house in PERUMAL KOVIL street,
Without electricity when all were sweating in heat,
In a dingy room lit with PETROMAX lamp,
The night was hot and air was damp.

An old midwife was busy assisting delivery,
All the ladies hovered in room’s periphery,
A neibhorhood girl enquired whether the Thambi was born,
“A son it should be” that was their conclusion foregone.

Indeed a son I was, and everyone rejoiced,
“A fairer skinned one” God granted their choice,
Though I took birth in their mirth,
I was not one born with silver spoon in my mouth,

Just an addition to the teaming millions,
In the bivouac of life, I am just one of the minions,
Born in a “TAM BRAHM” conservative family,
My parents had very simple and gentle personality.

They always told me “ Study well, we won’t get reservation”
I had to fight at every corner for realization of ambitions,
My childhood spent listening to Sanskrit religious hymns,
Reciting “ slokhas” and performing “ Sandhya vandana” to relieve my sins.

No,no, I don’t like to be dressed like a female, I cried,
I was born as a male and you all rejoiced,
Why do you want to make me a girl, in protest I voiced,
But they simply laughed and enforced their choice.

They said my name consisted of both female and male,
They wanted to re-enact the RADHA-KRISHNA folktale,
They dressed me as Radha and ignored my wail,
They marched me to the studio turning me as female.

I was made a laughing stock for children of my age,
Their laughter and teasing added fuel to my rage,
Throughout the session, my anger showed at every stage,
My childhood memories I am writing in this page.

When a child is born as female, the society wails,
When a male was dressed as female, they were all in smiles,
At every stage of life this contradiction prevails,
Why this ordeal when genders are supposed to be equal?

Being a boy, I was fed with milk and cream,
Had I been a girl, I would have seen them only in dream,
I was always pampered with gifts and toys,
But why this affection is shown only to boys?

Such incidents made me a rebel.
In to traps of religious fanaticism, I never fell,
But I retained all those values taught to me,
I never brought to my family any infamy.
©K.Radhakrishnan
PERUMAL KOVIL- Lord Vishnu’s temple
TAM BRAHM- A TAMIL BRAHMIN
SLOKHAS – Hymns in glory of God
SANDHYA VANDANA- An evening prayer to purify one’s sins
THAMBI- An younger brother

By Radhakrishnan Radhakrishnan

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