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S/he

by Kakuli Nag
(Bangalore, India)


I am still reeling from its impact.


For an incredibly long time, we as men and women have been mostly indifferent towards them. I have personally mastered the art of dozing off each time I saw them in trains till they passed my seat or pretending to read in cabs and buses while my attention acutely pinned towards their movement in traffic signals. I let a sigh of relief once they are not in my vicinity.

All this - unless you see someone up close, bond like sisters, share stories, dine, hug and end up with parting notes like these.

After I read a few sections from Domestic and Sexual Violence; Claiming Voice, Rights and Dignity, a book published by Ondede, Bangalore, I am seriously on a long guilt trip. I was fortunate to get a copy of this book from a learning lab I attended recently where one of the community activists launched this book.

Little did I know, some perceptions were about to be changed, a few articles were about to be written, a few collaborations were about me made, a few campaigns were about to be designed, a few conversations were about to be triggered, and all this is just the beginning.
Anyone who reads this book will cringe at the injustice and unfair practices. Yet I recommend people do read to wake up from slumber.

Questions that stirred me…
They are mostly very basic and yet fundamental:
How can the society assist them to evolve and be main stream?

Is it lack of awareness; our prejudices or baseless apprehensions?

Why are we close fisted towards them?

The last four conversations I had…
The first conversation I had was with my sister who donates a lot of money during her daily transit in local trains to people of this community who beg for a living. I asked her to think of other ways to support them –
may be by learning more about them first, what they are capable of, what they are deprived of, what they could potentially be, which of their skills can be used by a larger population – Begin somewhere! Let go off the easier route.

The second conversation I had was with a friend who is into leadership hiring in a large corporation.

While many companies have it as their primary themes in their hiring agenda to include them, however the ground reality is not very encouraging. She immediately had that registered in her radar on a personal and professional front. We created notes on our action items, mostly her action items.
It is seriously about time Corporate went beyond the beaten path of He-She ratio to brag about their inclusivity and diversity scope. The sooner they stepped into the zone of S/He hiring as a strategic move, the faster they can come up as pioneers, enablers and early adopters of talent that is yet to be tapped fully.

The third conversation was with my cousin with whom I had a Watsapp chat just today morning who rightly pointed out - Just a few high profile people from this community is not a sign of acceptance.

It is not enough to acknowledge an Akkai Padmashali or an Apsara Reddy - it is people like my friends, the ones in the train and traffic signals that need acceptance.
They are as normal and human as I am, as you are.

The final conversation was with an author today evening who said emphatically – “You should write” and hence I did.
I wrote this to get started on my own personal journey to make meaningful contributions to support a community have their rightful place – and that is, right among us.

Next time, you see them - see them through – beyond their appearance, beyond their mannerisms, beyond their orientation – the soul within!!
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