Pandav Nagar is a typical middle class locality in East Delhi. Houses sharing common walls on three sides, only the front remains exclusive. Kids on bicycles roam about carelessly, pausing momentarily for the passing vehicle bigger than theirs. The slim-and-trim fad has also caught up with the populace here. The D shaped park in the centre of the locality is abuzz with activity in the mornings. Old couples, college-going girls, wannabe macho men all busy with their daybreak huffing and puffing.

In the vicinity is a health club – only for ladies. Young girls and paunchy aunts, in the eternal yearn for a fitter body tire their legs on the treadmill or flex their muscles doing aerobics. Nearby lives a eunuch, who adopted two orphaned girls. The girls have grown older and had expressed the desire to look and feel fit. The eunuch approaches the instructor-cum-proprietor of the club; she is willing to pay the monthly fees Rs. 400 per head. The club still has space for many more members. But the girls were denied admission. No fault of theirs. Only that their foster parent does not fall into one of the compartments of gender segregation.

Many authors have written about them, a few films have been made, some also won elections. But they have remained what they have been down the ages, objects of ridicule. They say that their outward brashness is their only shield against the merciless world. And they are not wrong. They are non-existent for the administration, but eminently visible throughout the nation, in the traffic junctions, sea-sides, trains and narrow alleys. Singing, dancing, extortion and prostitution remain their only domain. There are no other options.

I’m writing about them inspired from an anecdote that a friend (who frequents that health club) narrated to me. I can feel their pain somewhere, but when they confront me, I impulsively shy away. The mindset still needs a lot of shattering.

She says that eunuchs can’t even get their lives insured.

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