It was a rough year
As we come to the last day of a very rough year, here's a very special message. I picked up a book at the library today, and there was a book..
Its title: Lucknow Ransom, Glen Peters, Parthian, Cardigan, 2013.
An Anglo-Indian woman leaving her past behind enters a 2nd class railway carriage in Calcutta with her son. There she meets a Hijra prostitute called Lakshmi, from the Hindu goddess of good fortune. She treats her with kindness, and is helped in turn as they get involved in a scandal.
Hijras are a 4000 year old transgender community of men who transition to women in India and Pakistan, who despite prejudice, have been granted the right to be considered a third sex for identification purposes. It is considered good luck to have them dance at Indian weddings, bad to mistreat them.
Background to the Hijras:
This was an interesting connection to when I last visited Pakistan in 1995,
Mother Mary Comes To Me. I took a train from Karachi to Lahore and that was a 2nd class carriage too :) Even though I had a reserved berth people came on anyway and crammed the seats. A party of Hijras came aboard. People refused to let them sit beside, because, prejudice.
I asked them to sit with me, which they accepted gladly. "Aren't we all the Children of Adam?" they asked the shamefaced passengers. Then they shared their food with me (again, people don't like to eat from the same container as a Hijra, but what do I know?)
This reminder today, for a project I'd been working on: a fictional crime series set in Pakistan. To tell the story of a police investigator as he progresses through the turmoil of post independence Pakistan. Not a new idea, to set crime stories in other cultures, other historical periods (I've been reading Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia series and Qiu Xiaolong's Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department series, enjoyed tremendously but then, I read a lot).
It's in the telling of a story, and the building of a character. An investigator who works the seamy side of Lahore's criminal underworld and, copyright, its title is The Punjab Minister's Wife. To be followed by, By Sea to Karachi, The Malir Ghost and The Haunting of the American Embassy. Like me, he loves Sufi and Indo-Persian poetry.
But the message from the past, and, for the future as the world wonders what will 2017 be like?
Be known for your acts of kindness.