Akathya


Shanti Banaras presents Akathya, a story of inexplicable beauty that emanates from deep within the soul. This Women’s & Anti-Discrimination Day, we visit the lives of eight transgender people, empowered despite live's trials and a phoenix before its tribulations. A call to action campaign where we salute the power that is the transgender.

I AM TASLIMA

"I am Taslima, the one who brought all eight of us together. I started cooking for the ‘Feed the abandoned’ programme run by an NGO called Small Differences in 2015. The organisation has looked after 1,651 people in the three years from when it started operating. In 2017, I started Change Trust to empower members of my community and help other marginalised people. I have since then become a much sought after speaker and have been invited to TV shows and also been recognised in several forums.” Taslima, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM RAZIA

“I am Razia, a qualified classical dancer, an aspiring actor, a student of history and a believer of karma. Like many others from my community I have also been a victim of transphobia. However, I overcame adversity and grew in strength. I am very keen on studying further and am pursuing BA in History. I always believe in the saying, “don’t feed the man a fish, teach him how to fish.” So I want to start an organisation to help young trans women by educating them and teaching them classical dance.” Razia, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM ANUSUYA

“I am Anusuya, an auto rickshaw driver. I was born in Trichy and named Arun Vinod by my parents who always shunned my reality. They made me work in a tea stall where I was constantly abused but I also met people from the Thirunangai (Transgender) community. My parents were wary of me being a Thirunangai in my hometown which is when I was sent to Bangalore. I lived in a house full of people from my community and eventually got operated when I turned 18 after which I shifted to Coimbatore. I started cooking and selling food for my upkeep but the surgery had weakened me considerably, I had to look for other options to manage my financial state. That’s when I came across Sai Trust and they gave me an auto-rickshaw. I soon gained a regular clientele and realised that I wanted to invest in more autos and taxis as well. I would need a bank loan for that and hence started filing my income tax returns. It’s been 5 years now and I operate a car and auto. I want to eventually start my own travel company.” Anusuya, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM VINITA

I am Vinita, a home maker, a mother and a wife, cobbling up money to own a house big enough for a child to grow in. My story is rare as I not only have the support of a family but also the love of a caring husband. We all share a roof, a tiny house where only four people can sleep at a time. Our dream is of adopting a girl child and gathering enough money to one day own a home wherein she can grow up happily. Yes, I wanted to be an IAS officer. Now I hope to make my daughter one.” Vinita, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM SUJITHRA

I am Sujithra, Tamil Nadu’s first radio jockey and a student of criminology who wants to fight for her people’s rights. Dignity and an opportunity to make an impact on society came to me through the Chandran Yuva Foundation. That’s where I work as an RJ from 9am to 5pm. From 5pm to late in the night I drive my auto rickshaw. I also recently completed a short course in basic computer knowledge. Who says one cannot have many dreams? I have plenty and already am making some of them come true. One of them is to work in Tollywood and become a name to be remembered in the world of cinema. My immediate plan is to complete the BA Criminology course from Tamil Nadu Open University. I want to raise awareness about our rights and duties.” Sujithra, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM YAMINI

I am Yamini, a 9 to 5 employee in a tech firm. I was born Aravind and Coimbatore has always been my home. I wanted to pursue polytechnic after class 10 and that is when I met my first abusers. I was bullied, made fun of, and teased mercilessly. What does one really do when the onslaught of one’s peer group is relentless? I quit the program. It was then that I decided to do something useful with my life. I knew I was capable of better. As with any of my transgender friends, I found solace in the community. Today, I am home for good and have found myself a job in Sivani Infotech and am also pursuing a B-Com degree. I am finally respected at my workplace. All I know is that I want to make a difference. Sometimes the universe's harsh rejection can lead to deep acceptance of self. I reciprocate the world's rejection by loving and nurturing trees as one would children.” Yamini, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM SHOBHANA

I am Shobhana, a dancer & a chef, cooking up a storm on stage and in the kitchen. I believe in miracles as I am one. Born speech and hearing impaired, I sing today to my heart's desire as I hear the birds sing to me. I started talking and my sense of hearing came alive at age 12. Ever since then, I have been enraptured with the sound of dance, a world which I found with my guru Padmini Amma, back when I was still a boy. Dance wove it’s way into my life and I realised I wanted to be a woman. Medanamma, my senior transwoman guru encouraged me to not only dance but also earn money by learning a permanent art form & that’s how I learnt how to cook. A sense of contentment has lit up my life and I want to now share my blessings with others like me.” Shobhana, in our bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Saree.

I AM SARA

“I am Sara, a make up artist and a student of law. I wish to eventually fight for my people’s right in the court of law. My dream is be an activist and fight for gender inclusion and equal rights for all. My story begins like that of many of us, who are born in one of India's many small, traditional towns, ill equipped to accepting us and our way of life. I was born in Kotagiri and raised in Coimbatore where I suffered silently, questioning my existence till a group of transgender people pulled me out of my shell. Their effervescence rubbed off on me and I decided to go in for the operation and be one with them. Years of struggle, denial and convincing my family eventually led to an acceptance by them. I was operated and I became who I am. Perfect in and out, ready to take on the world. I want to take up transgender rights in legal forums and work for the betterment of all marginalised sections of society. Today I live on my own and support my ageing mother.” Sara, in our two identical, bold striped Handloom Katan Silk Sarees.