The tyranny of society, A Nepali play shows how society mutes the voice of a transgender woman

Sandesh Ghimire/Pahichan – Jiundo Akash, a play currently on stage at Sarwanam Theatre, shows the struggle of a person who does not conform to the heteronormative standards of society. Written by Chandra Prakash Pandey and directed by RK Roshan Mehta, the play is a solo performance by actor Anil Subba.

“My  name is Garima, but I was born as Gaurav,” says the person on stage, who seems to be comfortable with  her sexual identity, yet as she begins to engage the audience with her life story, it is clear that most of her life was spent in confusion and isolation. The play takes the format of a flashback and starts from the age when Gaurav was six years old. At home, Gaurav’s feminine nature was brushed off as childish behaviour, while at school Gaurav was teased for “not walking like a boy and for choosing to spend time in ‘girly’ things.”

The story of the play moves on to depict the inner isolation felt by a transgender woman, because the identity she associates with is branded by society as an ‘unnatural choice’.  The play also shows the hypocritical nature of society in its dealing with the transgender community. When Garima becomes a young-adult, she is forced by her father to participate in the recruitment trial for the army. At the army camp, the recruiting officer rapes Garima, and then rejects her from the army claiming that “there is no space in the army for a Chakka.” Similarly, the play also shows how a lack of social acceptance forces the transgender community to engage in prostitution to make an income, and are also forced to live dual lives. Throughout the play, Garima is constantly forced to assume the identity of Gaurav for her family’s sake.

“This play is a damming indictment of our society,” Rajan Khatiwada, artistic director of Mandala Theatre shared with the Post, “There is no greater cruelty than to make somebody feel lonely.” He also heaped praises on Subba for his performance, “Subba not just accurately portrayed the role of a transgender person living a dual life, but was also convincing in all the other roles that he enacted. ”

The play will be staged every day at Sarwanam Theatre in Kalikasthan till March 3, except for Thursdays.

Copy : The Kathmandu Post