A heartfelt poem on Transgender activist – Akkai Padmashali, written after reading her Memoir – ‘A Small Step in A Long Journey’ and interacting with her on Zoom during our monthly Virtual BookClub meeting.
Tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting HER!! She is amazing, an hour just passed in a blur. Her views and notions are profound. She strongly believes in rebounds. I feel a little awe-struck, my emotions still run amok. She is a “MAN”, they say. She is unnatural, an embarrassment, they say. But from where I stand and see… I see a Woman. A woman who was ostracized and stigmatized, yet she stood her ground and today she is epitomized! She is not of sound moral and character, they say. She should be shunned and punished, they say. But from where I stand and see… I see an Activist. An activist with a beautiful soul, an activist who is staunchly committed, yet she is focused and her positivity is strongly transmitted! They say, others like her should be ignored too. That they are child abductors and sex-workers. That they shouldn’t have been born. They say, they should live in shame, that they should be left to die alone. But from where I stand and see… I feel they all are trying to live an ethical life in an unethical world. A life thrust upon them unknowingly. A world they ought to defy to reiterate their identity! She is “their” voice. Her biology is not her choice. She wants the world to accept she’s different, just like many others. They face violence… They know suffering. And yet, “they are evil”, we say! As educated, superior Sapiens, is this really what we want to convey? Why can’t we just “live and let live”? Why do we even listen to what “they” say? We are privileged, they say. Can’t we use those “privileges” to be tolerant and a little more compassionate? We are the people of Today. Let’s just open our arms and hearts and say, “yes! You are one of us. We embrace you all the way”!!
On the 22nd of October 2022, we had Akkai Padmashali as the guest for our monthly book club meeting on Zoom. Akkai is the transgender activist, motivational speaker, singer (the list goes on and on…) and the author of ‘A Small Step in a Long Journey’. Her memoir. Powerful. Pragmatic. And quite an eye-opener!
As she joined the virtual meeting of The Enlightened Sapiens Book club, we all were a little awe-struck! She talked about the stigma she faced as a child and the roadblocks in her life in a very matter-of-fact manner. Akkai answered our questions patiently and with complete honesty. It is evident that she wants acceptance over sympathy. She values commitment over emotions. She chooses courage over vulnerability.
Akkai lost her brother just a couple of days before our meeting but since she had committed her presence, she was there. Shaken and tearful and emotional. But present nonetheless. As I listened to her, I wondered, is this what heroes are made up of? How can a single entity possess so much fortitude and resilience? What is she made up of? How could she have endured all that she had from a tender age and still have it in her to fight for the rights of others like her? Well, I got my answers in the course of the conversation. She is the warrior! She chooses to fight…against all odds! Yet she is a wonderful person, positive and inspirational.
It was a pleasure meeting and talking to her. And it was a “privilege” reading her memoir! I absolutely recommend everyone to read it. Undoubtedly it is bone-chilling and despondent in places but at the same time it tells us about the struggles and combats faced by Akkai and how she emerged from her anguish as a hero. A hero for others in her community! This book is about hope and perseverance. About commitment and inspiration.