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The blue symmetry dress that hung down the lean shoulders was a perfect fit for her figure, the lock of hair that sway by the cheek, the mascara, the lip color were exactly the way it should be. That evening in his room Rishab stood before the mirror staring at the image it reflected. His eyes fixed at those staring back at him from behind the reflector, whispered underneath his breath, “Richa,” shutting his eyes and taking in a heavy amount of air he whispered again, “Richa, not Rishab…” his eyes still shut, swaying his head from left to right, he murmured “This is me, the real me and no one can deny this. Now there is no one telling me how to act, what to wear and how to walk. No one can decide for me. I am the owner of me.” His head tilted back with his stare reaching the ceiling over his head, after a brief stay there his gaze came back at the image now it had a smile so content to be what she was today.
This was Richa and SHE was happy to come out of that hidden corner where she was locked up for so many years, but the question is at what cost?
Richa’s existence today did not come easy. When Rishab chose to bring her out to the world, his family chose to disown him. That was the day he could never forget.
That day the entire hall watched the bride walk down the stairs with the rest of her siblings around her. Mona the third born of the family was the one getting married. Not just the bride but the entire Thakur sisters were looking resplendent and Rishab, the man behind this fabulous art was beaming with pride at his own creation. This was what he loved doing and had been the silent stylist for his sisters, from behind the curtain, hidden from the world. But today to them dressed this way, his hidden feeling to dress like them began to trouble him, making it difficult to push his wish away; the wish… if only he was allowed to do so. He silently stood there witnessing the bride and the groom taking vows.
The wedding was over; the bride was gone, that day the tired father while heading towards his room, a little hustle amongst a few young men before the window in the corridor caught his attention. It was the window to the room of his son, Rishab. He rushed there pushing those men aside. As he slides the window wide open, which revealed everything happening inside. There stood a beautifully dressed bride facing the mirror and the face reflected was that of Rishab. In the hurry to fulfill his wish, he had left the window facing the corridors unlock.
The room was in utter silence, whit Baba sitting on the edge of his bed and next to him sat his elder brother. Amma and the five daughters stood by the door. All eyes were at Rishab, who had now gone back to his normal pants and tees, stood with his head down in one corner. Everyone had their own set to thoughts playing in their minds.
Rishab’s mind, despite being aware that this could lead to his death, was determined to speak up today. He had decided, this day to be the day of the announcement, the day to let the world know that he is not him, he is different. The toy guns and cars never appealed to his heart, instead, his heart cried for the dolls and their dresses, the nail paints, and their hairdos. He could never relate to the sex he was assigned. He was a girl from within; like five of his elder sisters, he too loved to make up, to apply nail paints and to match those pairs of heels with that pink dress. He stood waiting for the right moment to speak, not aware of the thoughts that played in his baba’s mind.
The entire room was had to put a halt to their thoughts when baba began speaking with clenched teeth pointing at Rishab “You, you…. are my biggest mistake ever, I should have never brought you home!!! If only I knew you were this…” with his finger still pointed at Rishab, “I shouldn’t have exchanged the sixth girl your mother had delivered for a hijra like you.”
Rishab shot a confused looked at his father in disbelief. Not sure if he heard it right, he turned towards his sister and mother to find stating back equally baffled on hearing what baba just said.
“What?” she mumbled…but she was interrupted by her husband’s elder brother.
“No one knew about this chotey, believe me, I would have never made the deal with that ward boy if only I knew what he was handing us.”
“What is happening here? What rubbish is everyone talking about, amma?” Rishab walked to his mother, still unable to believe his father’s say.
“What rubbish? You are our son….” Amma holding him by his hands assured him. “What rubbish is this? I know I had delivered a boy…not a girl…” she confirmed every one sitting there.
“You stay away.” Baba now gestured his wife to go back to the corner she had stepped forward from. “You don’t know anything. It is you who could not deliver a boy for me. You had delivered a girl again for the sixth time. So we exchanged her with the boy born next to your bed.” His eyes went red with rage… “ If only you had given an heir to this family?”
That was the day how the revelation of his true identity had left with no family at all. Now that she knew what she was, but Richa’s search of who she was had began. Now that she had the answer to all her questions but never to the one she was left with, who did she come from? And this is what will haunt her always.
Back at the Thakur Mansion, baba was busy reading the newspaper with his five-year-old son sat next to him shuffling with the channels suddenly cried “Look Priya didi is on TV.”
The screen played the interview of a twenty-three-year-old girl who had returned home winning gold from the Olympics. The girl had exact same pair of large beautiful eyes; lips were a perfect replica of Thakur’s eldest daughter.