Sunday, September 5, 2010

Voice for visibility

A.Revathi opens up to Nithin Mayanth on the struggles of hijras, the role of art in connecting people, and more…

In its effort to correct dominant prejudices against hijras, A. Revathi's translated autobiography, published by Penguin India, The Truth About Me – A Hijra Life Story, positions the reader as an anthropologist of hijra life, in particular into the everyday violence they endure. Revathi sees her writing as an extension of her role as a rights activist, who has been working with Bengaluru-based sexuality rights organisation, Sangama, for over nine years.  She speaks about reading, writing, and the reception of her book

What role does reading play in your life?
To tell you the truth I have not read much.  I regularly read newspapers, weeklies and magazines but almost no literary books.  Accessing Tamil literature in Bangalore has not been easy either, and managing to squeeze my day for time to read a novel, almost impossible.  Though one book I've read twice, and which inspired me to write The Truth About Me, was Bama's Karukku.

And writing, what has that meant for you?
Writing, for me, is a way of bringing together the two worlds that I am part of – the hijra community and my family. Be it writing my autobiography, short stories or compiling Unarvum Uruvamum (Emotions and the Body – a book on hijra lives in South India published in 2004), writing makes these two worlds talk to each other.  In fact I believe that not just writing but all the arts offer us a way to do this.  Art is able to connect us when all face-to-face conversations have failed due to prejudices or feelings of hurt and pain.  For many hijras who have been denied access to formal education, dancing, acting and singing become potent ways to express their feelings and ideas to the rest of the world.  

Recently my hijra friends encountered a woman on the streets who hugged them and begged them for my phone number and having got it called me to tell me how much the book meant to her and how it helped her rid herself off her prejudices and fear of hijras.  This is what is important for me; to touch people's hearts through my art.

Full report here Hindu

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