TODAY -

Sex and the Train

By:- Iboyaima Laithangbam *



Since early part of 1965 I have been travelling by train, my most favourite means of transportation, at many parts of the country. However this is for the first time in my life as a travel bug that a young woman gave birth to a baby girl inside the running train.

One moment she was floundering in labour pains next to me and the next moment she and her family disembarked carrying away the girl bundled in warm clothes admist cheers from other travellers. A young co-traveller informed me that when Lalu Prasad hears about it the girl would be given a free train ticket for life. If it is true then women, mostly the poor and destitute expectant mothers would throng train bogies to convert them to maternity wards. Well, more of this child birth later on.

The Saraighat Express (Guwahati to Howrah) pulled out of the Guwahati station at 12:45 PM on the dot. Being an express train it was scheduled to halt at some big stations and junctions only so as to reach Howrah at 5:10 am the next morning. It would halt at 10 stations and junctions at the rate of 2 minutes each.

Station Mirza was the next to Guwahati. Before I knew what was happening three "women" barged into our compartment, one of them warbling some sentences of a popular Hindi song. All of them fanned out to corner the youthful passengers. They pinched the cheeks, cuddled up and whispered incoherently into the ears of some embarrassed passengers. And they had succeeded in extorting money from several youthful passengers who gave them money just to end the embarrassment.

It was clear that those who had made their presence felt at Mirza station were Hijras (eunuchs). From childhood they had been castrated and trained for aberrant sex, dancing and extortion. The other day one doctor was pulled up for castrating a young boy at the behest of the eunuchs.

Different batches of eunuchs--some of them handled mobile phones while others had hairy hands and cheeks-- kept on pestering the passengers. The following sentences are excerpts from the May 12, 2003 issue of India Today.
"Eunuch Neelambai was murdered for her wealth, turf control and business acumen. She and her gang were earning between Rs 50,000 and Rs 100,000 per day through extortion and prostitution. She had her breasts implanted in Singapore. She travelled in a chauffeur driven Scorpio and an armed bodyguard protected her all the time. She had wealth, money and an impressive house. She had a fetish for gold and who was known to have possessed 4 kg of gold. It is because of her wealth and influence that even the Information Minister Sushma Swaraj was the guest of honour for a function organised by Neelambai in September 2000."

From this account it can be well imagined the business expansion of the eunuchs everywhere. Many of them would commit murder without batting an eyelid if it is for the business or they feel they are threatened.

The trip from Kolkata to Margao was uneventful except for such eunuchs and the presence of three Russian girls in our bogie. Some other foreigners had boarded other compartments. They were going to Goa for the last batch of holiday.

On my way back some youths were returning home to Orissa. They were earning money as cooks in some big hotels. As summer had set in it was time for closing down the hotel till September when the foreign tourists will come again. The Russian girls were in their teens. Illiterate Bengali urchins including a middle aged man having family in the same compartment kept on harassing the girls.

With a few words of English they peppered the girls with screwball questions. The embarrassed girls were heard talking among themselves in Russian. Coming from a big country and a more civilized society they must have looked as these Bengalis as some unrefined street gangs. Their ordeal came to an end when all of us disembarked at Margao.

This was not obviously their first visit since they knew their way around. Besides there were a number of foreigners in the station and taxi stand. Most of them were leaving Goa after a holiday.

On arrival at Goa what one noticed was that the scabrous slums ubiquitously found in other parts of the country were conspicuous by their absence. The coconut, palm and other tall, bunioned and misshappen trees with beautifully architectured houses were soul stirring. People are exceptionally sweet and cooperative and will go out of the way to extend a helping hand. Most of the women are plump, beautiful and speak chaste English.

There are a number of distilleries in Goa. A friend informed me that various kinds of IMFL are brewn from sugar, grapes, cashew nuts and the like. They are much chepaer than those in any other state. There are wholesale and retail shops at many places. Everywhere one finds bars.

The bar owners refuse to sell bottles to casual customers saying that it is for sale to the regulars. They earn more by selling in slugs. The friend brought me one bottle of local brew. He said that the alcoholic content is low. There was no attraction to the local brew in the circumstances and I had left it in the refrigerator.

To conclude this piece, we should remember how the baby girl was born inside the running train. It was April 2 morning when the shrieking expectant mother, her not so bright husband and heavily tatooed mother-in-law decorated in many colourful items like that of the desert dancers came into our compartment.

Two Railway doctors had escorted them inside. They shooed away the passengers so that the woman could lie down. One doctor listened to the baby through his stethoscope and gingerly touched and superficially probed the belly. But this is not the proper diagnosis for an expectant mother. His hand should have been dropped lower for proper diagnosis and determine the possible timing of the child birth.

One doctor injected a pain killer after which she became groggy. But whenever the excruciating pain lanced her body she opened her eyes and disoriently looked to one and all. The doctors advised the family to get down in the next station for taking rest in the platform or rush to the hospital. If there is no trouble they could proceed with their journey later in the passenger train. The family made a show of disembarking. But they rushed back the moment the doctors strolled away.

After some time she became restless and wanted to go to the bathroom. The water pouches were about to break, perhaps. The mother-in-law escorted her. But they did not return for a long time. Sensing that something was amiss other women passengers also moved towards the bathroom.

After some time the happy news that one baby girl was born was broken by a woman. The mother-in-law with the ghoulish face and horrendous decorative pieces escorted the woman. A Muslim woman , who was obviously experienced since three noisy brats were with her, brought the baby girl wrapped in warms clothes.

I had partially removed by camera to take photogaphs of the mother and the child and note down their particulars. However I had second thoughts. I do not know what the illiterate witch like old woman would have said and done when I took photogaphs. The illierate Indians do many things since they superstitious. The family got down at Hubli and I had missed my life time's photographs.




* Iboyaima Laithangbam wrote this article for The Hueiyen Lanpao Newspaper (English Edition)
This article was webcasted on May 02nd, 2009.


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