Kajal, 21, was born Suraj in a middle class family of the National Capital. She first faced the gender identity crisis in school. Her family and friends scorned her for what they thought was “effeminate” behavior. Bullying and teasing from classmates was common. Kajal chose her sexuality over her family. Today, she works as a street sex worker on Delhi-Noida Highway and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree from Open College.
As the night falls, my day begins. This is also the best part of my daily routine. I take a warm water bath, carefully apply make-up and choose the ethnic wear from my cupboard that suits my mood. There would be matching bangles and danglers to go with the suit. It may take more than an hour before I am satisfied with my outlook. But I simply love dressing up for the occasion.
Like employees in corporate world, I too set daily targets. If I am able to earn Rs 2,000 during one night, I have made it. Anything less is an underachievement, and anything extra is a bonus. A bonus means I can treat myself to new clothes and jewellry.
“Babu chalta hai kya,” is my pick-up line. Trust me, most of my customers are left dumbfounded at the end of our encounters. I often earn extra tips for my oral skills. I feel like a queen with the kind of attention I get from my clients. Most vehicles slow down at my sight. I cruise around Delhi-Noida stretch from late evening till 4 in the morning. Winters and monsoon are tough, but each job has its hazards.
I usually charge Rs 300-500 per client. There are all kind of clients. Some are polite and well behaved. Some are drunk and get abusive and violent. But over the time, I have learnt to deal with them. I have travelled in the most luxurious and modern cars. My services are not limited to the street. I have been to several hotels and luxury apartments too. I have entertained police officials and bureaucrats who pick me for special services.
Yes, safety is another hazard in our dhanda (profession). You always meet clients who do not want to use a condom. But thanks to an NGO workshop, I have learnt the trick to use my mouth to cap a penis with a condom without even a customer knowing about it. I am an educated sex worker. I am pursuing my graduation from Open College so I know all the risks involved. I cannot compromise on health and hygiene. I take HIV test once a month.
Then there are rowdy bikers in groups who harass us. Usually, police patrols ignore us or only seek information from us. I know the stretch well, so whenever I sense trouble, I can jump on the other side of footpath with thick foliage. I have also marked some dark spots that can hide a couple of persons.
My transition from Suraj to Kajal happened the year Salman Khan’s blockbuster movie ‘Tere Naam‘ was released (2003). I would take my sister’s ‘dupatta‘ and dance on its songs. I was young, so nobody paid much attention at home but this is when I realised my true gender identity. I have three elder brothers and two sisters. When my brothers found that I had been wearing my sisters’ clothes, they would beat me up for bringing disrepute to the family.
I was enrolled in a government boy’s school in East Delhi. I was always quite the one in my class. My classmates would often grab me and try to force them on me. I would be bullied into giving some of them oral pleasure. One day, some senior boys grabbed me after school hours and took turns to rape me. I was left crying and bleeding. I even thought of ending my life that day.
My only solace was a classmate of mine who would come to my rescue whenever someone tried to bully me. It could be a perfect love story. But as school got over, we separated. I also separated from my family to own up my sexuality and moved into a locality with other transgenders. Here, we would visit houses of newly wed couples or where a child was born. We would dance and haggle for monetary rewards.
It was a day after the demonetisation was announced (November, 2016), when I was introduced to the life as a sex worker. A transgender friend Bobby asked me to spend an evening with her. She gave me her dress and helped me to apply some make-up. Around 10 pm, we went to the Delhi-Noida border. I was anxious but also thrilled. That night I entertained 10 clients. This was quick money and since then I have been working during nights only.
While working, I decided to study and took admission in B.A. course, opting for open college. I want to continue with my education after graduation too. I want to pursue a master’s degree in counselling. Who knows I would end up as a saviour for many women who have been trapped in another body but silently suffer it all their lives.