Hi Goshta Tevhachi Ahe: This is a Story of those Times


Disha Shaikh

On 15th of February, 'Sarva Kahi Samashtisathi' — a day-long literature festival commemorating the life and contribution of Marathi writer, poet and one of the founding members of 'Dalit Panther', Namdeo Dhasal — was organized at the JJ School of Arts in Mumbai. 15th February is the birth anniversary of Namdeo Dhasal.

disha shaikh

Disha Pinky Shaikh, a trans rights activist and poet from Nashik, addressed the gathering of young and old political activists and artists who came to attend the literary festival from across the country. She spoke about how Namdeo Dhasal was the first person who led the fight for transgenders and prostitutes to get them their most fundamental necessity — ration card. She also recited a poem — Hi Goshta Tevhachi Aahe (This is a Story of those Times) — she wrote for Dhasal and explained why she calls him "Maaybaap" (mother and father).

Hi Ghosht Tevhachi Ahe || Disha Shaikh || Saara Kahi Samashtisathi 2018

Here is the translation of her speech as well as a poem from Marathi:

There has been a lot of talking going on about transgenders in the last few years. Especially after 2014. Because we have got voting cards, na? And now how can such a huge class be allowed to go to waste? How can so many votes be allowed to go to waste? So every faction is targeting it. A display is being made of trying to dialogue with us, trying to work for us. But before the nineties, not ancient times, before the nineties, nobody even considered us worthy of a side glance.

[Recites the poem]

Holding my crudlike life, when I was standing in the red light street that boasts of being a democracy, and for a rupee or two I was selling my skin, this is a story of those times.

Having an existence-less life, when I used to put on lipstick and clap with an empty stomach when nobody was ready to even give us an Indian citizenship, this is a story of those times.

Leftists, Rightists, Progressives, Communists, and even some of your half-brained Ambedkarites too, used to cross my lane putting a rag to their nose, so that the rotting smell of so-called civilisation does not reach them. This is a story of those times.

But you stood up, not to receive any NGO funding or to complete any political agenda, you stood up for our hunger.

Namdeo Dhasal was the one who organised the first demonstration of hijras and prostitutes in India. It was not for any NGO funding, nor for any votebank, it was for our rationing cards, for our hunger, and this is a story of those times.

Not to receive any NGO funding, nor to complete any political agenda, but you stood up for our hunger, this is a story of those times.

For thousands of hijras and prostitutes, birthed out of patriarchal rape and thrown out of our villages, you became the voice.You taught us to stomp on the cuirass of the system for the pit in our stomach. This is a story of those times.

There are many today who call me theirs - in the bazaar, in the parliament, in social work, in NGOs, and in capitalists. Those that are trying to make me hold the phallus of their agendas in my hands, and trying to make me stand in the new Golpitha of globalisation. These are the same ones that declared you a prostitutor, and even today they call you a prostitutor in hushed tones. But Nama, but Nama, for me, and for lakhs of hijras and red light women, back then and even today, you are our Maaybaap [mother and father], you are our maaybaap

Here everyone who kicks the system in the guts na, is either bought by any and every means possible, and if there is someone who cannot be appropriated thus, then his character - it is very easy to caricature his character, to make it an object of mockery. Many raised an objection to me calling him Maaybaap, but tell me, who stands up for you before everybody else? Who puts the first morsel of food in your mouth? Who realises your humaneness first? It is your mother. For our people, it is Namdeo Dhasal, so he is the Maaybaap for our people.

I want to say one more thing. I never wrote poems. People today call me a poet, but I never wrote poems. I mean, a better platform - platform, forum - however much we ingrain, na, we are unable to utter words like these. It has been hammered on us through generations. We update ourselves also according to their definitions only.

There's one last story that I want to tell. Today Disha came to light as a poet. I am not the first to write. Many women have diaries falling into decay, but they never came forward. After the nineties, globalisation opened up, factories came up, companies came in, and the business of the capitalists rose. Because of this rising business, the migration of workers to cities started. Workers from villages started coming to the cities and these immigrated workers, 12-12, 15-15, 20-20 of them lived in one room. So these migrated workers could not go back to their homes for their bodily needs, they couldn't afford to. And then sex workers and transgenders were the ones who were used to satisfy their bodily needs. Sometime in those days, a virus named HIV arrived here and infected the workers. Workers infected meant the machines of these capitalists infected, and infected machine - when this infected machine went home and had sex with his wife, then the machine giving birth to more machines were infected. The capitalists here recognised these politics, and a sector named NGO - knowingly or unknowingly to them, I don't know how their agendas were formed, but a lot of NGOs working on HIV came here. It was not possible to speak on condoms with ordinary women, so sex worker women and transgenders were targeted, and they were made to understand what a condom is. We were used according to their convenience, and the day their targets were completed, the funding for these NGOs was stopped. There are many here [in the audience] today that work, they know that fundings for HIV projects have stopped. This means the starting and stopping (of funding) had proper capitalist aims behind it. But the one who fought for us without any such aims or strategies was Namdeo Dhasal.



Disha Shaikh is a trans rights activist and a poet.

Translated by: Nimish Wagh who is pursuing Masters in Mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani - Goa. he can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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