- Publisher: Rahaao Publication
Aadam-Grehan (‘Humanity’s Eclipse’) is a daring and heart-wrenching account of the despair and longings of Meera, an intersex individual and Chirag, a child she raises as her own in a Khusra community. Khusras, ‘the third gender’ in India and Pakistan, are marginalized and often abused people who are hermaphrodites, transgender, intersex individuals, transvestites and eunuchs.
Chahal’s treatment of the tabooed subject is original with nearly a flawless poetic narration capturing the reader’s mind and heart. Descriptions of space, human interactions, singing and dancing, and the gravity of suffering of these people evokes empathy as their inherent humanity cries out to be accepted, included, and honoured.
The story starts with a Muslim family of Salman and her husband Nazamuddin and their three sons and a daughter in the village of Aligarh in the District of Malerkotla, Indian Punjab. Their fifth child is born at home. “Neither boy nor girl” sadly says the wizened mid-wife Nand Kaur to Nazamuddin. A devastating news for the parents. Nazamuddin freezes in shock, fear, and shame. But the parents embrace the child as a gift from Allah and keep Ameeran’s secret hidden.
As she grows older her brothers notice that she is different. Ameeran is forced to leave home and joins a colony of Khusras. Her name is changed to Meera. Soon the maternity ward of a local hospital calls and she goes to receive an intersex baby whom she names Chirag. She raises him with love and tenderness and hopes of a bright future. Chirag goes to school and college where he is repeatedly abused, raped, and catches Aids. He dies having just completed a law degree. Meera mourns his death in an ecstatic Sufi whirling dance and song ritual. And she dies, finally finding freedom.
The novel compassionately explores life in the Khusra colonies, giving voice to the deep sorrow and pain of these people and their longings for intimacy, equal rights, opportunities, and human dignity.