This chapter deals with the initial indictment of Sanji for his part in his hijra sister Jalina's kidnap and it addresses the first part of Jalina's eventual reconciliation with her younger sisters.
The rescue 9.
Beverly Taff. Transvestite
James or Jamie Transgendered kid.
Candice Jamie’s Younger Sister.
Sergeant Williams Hate crime police officer
David Evans Knife-boy. (Son of Dewi Evans.)
Margaret Beckinsale. Jamie and Candice’s mum. (AKA Madge.)
Sandie Beverly’s best Transvestite friend.
Elizabeth Todd Beverly’s next door neighbour.
Jennifer Todd Elizabeth Todd’s daughter. A barrister. (QC.) Beverly’s best female friend & ‘girl next door’ through childhood.
Rastus Elizabeth Todd’s cat (Now owned by Beverly.)
Dewi Evans Bent politician and criminal.
Paul. Beverly’s transvestite Boss.
Calista Paul’s Transgendered girlfriend.
Stephanie Jenny and Beverly’s daughter.
Phoebe Paul’s Sister.
Rachel. Jennifer’s new girlfriend. (After Stephanie was born.)
Jalina Sha. Indian Engineering graduate (Now Hijra.)
Pradjit Sha Jalina’s father.
Sanji Sha. Jalina’s younger brother.
Kansha Sha Jalina’s mother
Surala Woman Police Constable. (WPC)
Ganshai Jalina’s remaining hijra friend.
Miati and Geeta. Jalina’s younger sisters.
At breakfast the next morning Ganshai rejoined us. She had lived a somewhat happier life as a hijra than her friends for her family had been compassionate about her choices. Ganshai wanted to transition and her father had been understanding about it. Sadly she just didn’t have the money. Now after her release from the slave auction she had a story to sell to the papers and she hoped to get enough to pay for her surgery. She had spent the first night with us at the hotel and then gone to see her parents and reassure them she was alright. She was here to check with Jalina if she was happy with her name being included in Ganshai’s story. Once again Jalina proved how tough she could be.
“Publish and be damned darling. I’ll back you all the way. I don’t need the money but if some good can come to you from this story then tell it all. By the way, are you ready to return to work?”
Ganshai nodded and we fell to eating breakfast as Ganshai joined us at the table. Later as Jalina and Paul went to see some local government agencies to rearrange our meetings, Ganshai and I went to the new factory. There Ganshai met Prati for the first time. I introduced them on Jalina’s behalf then left Prati to sort out mail while Ganshai accompanied me around the empty factory. As Paul’s production advisor for the new venture I would be liaisoning closely with Jalina’s team when she assembled it. Ganshai and I chatted amiably as we worked out the provisional layout of the factory floor. A lot of the new assembly line had arrived but awaited installation. We also had to check the manifests to see how far we were along the road to ‘start-up’.
The building was silent as Ganshai and I worked our way alone around the packing cases.
Suddenly we heard shouting coming from Prati’s office. As one we turned and rushed up the iron steps to see what was wrong. Sanji had turned up and he was bellowing at a cowering Prati who had shrunk into the corner. It was all in Hindi so I could not understand it but Ganshai did and she screamed at Sanji in a rage. Sanji turned to strike Ganshai down but he had reckoned without me. As I appeared from behind Ganshai he suddenly paled and shrank back. He was outnumbered now by two ‘women’ and a man. I could see that Sanji wasn’t about to listen to anything the girls said; he was too macho and chauvinist for that. Now however there was a man in the room and he would have to account for his behaviour and it would have to be in English.
“If you touch me, I’ll sue you for assault.”
“What about your assault on Prati?” I riposted.
“Huh. The word of a reputable lawyer against an office girl.”
“And her office partner and an English consultant engineer.” I added.
“You weren’t here when the trouble started. You are only a partial witness.” He smirked.
“Get out you bloody thug! You’re not fit to clean these girl’s shoes.”
His back stiffened at the insult but he knew better than to try and tangle with three people. He stalked through the door and slammed it so hard the large pane of glass cracked.”
“That should be safety glass.” I remarked for some peculiar reason.
Both girls chuckled at my unwitting transferral. We supposed it was because I was genuinely nervous. Sanji was a big man but a coward.
Ganshai settled into her desk by the window and I made to pour myself a cup of tea to steady my nerves. Prati bolted from her corner and grabbed the pot from my hand.
“I’ll do that!”
“There’s no need, I’ll,-“
“No. Let me.”
I shrugged and turned to Ganshai who smiled.
“It’s different in India Beverly. We women like to spoil our men.”
“What; even brutes like that oaf?” I thumbed towards the door that Sanji had broken.
“Well, only if they’re gentlemen.” Prati added as she remembered how I liked my tea and held out the delicate bone china cup and saucer.
I accepted it graciously and with a smile. Prati smiled back then handed a cup to Ganshai and produced a delicate plate of biscuits. I noted Ganshai’s deep smile of gratitude. By serving Ganshai with the tea and the biscuits, Prati had demonstrated that she was prepared to accept Ganshai, a hijra, deemed by many to be lower than an untouchable, a ‘detestable’.
I settled my butt against the window sill and savoured my tea and biscuit as the two girls fell to chatting in English for my benefit. There are few better ways of demonstrating fraternity or sorority than by breaking bread. Prati turned to me again.
“Thank you for that. Now at least somebody knows what he’s like.”
“Oh we know what he’s like Prati. Jalina hates him. But he’s still a shareholder and he has a right to sit on the board, at least until the next general shareholder’s meeting and we can formally vote him off. It’s just a pity we haven’t got more evidence of his assault. We arrived a bit too late.”
At that Ganshai smiled and motioned to both of us.
“Perhaps we have.”
She had been reconnecting her computer and it was now booted up. With a graceful hand movement she invited us to look at her screen. Curiosity overtook both Prati and I as we leaned forward over Ganshai’s shoulders.
“Is that the office?” I gasped.
“Well it’s Jalina’s office. She was organising the installation of security cameras before we were kidnapped. But look, the door from her office to ours is open. When the door is open, the camera can see quite a bit of our office. As you know, Jalina’s been out all morning with Paul at the meetings while Prati’s been back and forth a lot of times. She’s left the door jammed open because her hands were full. Every time she enters with mail or those files and leaves them on Jalina’s desk, she activates the sensors. The door has been open all morning. Look Prati had to wedge it open.”
As the video ran we all saw Sanji entering Prati’s outer office and when Prati tried to stop him entering Jalina’s inner office. He pushed her violently onto the floor in the corner and started threatening her. That’s when the shouting had attracted us. The last image was of Ganshai rushing in then the screen went dead.
“Where’s the rest of it?” I wondered.
Ganshai tapped a few buttons and sighed.
“That’s it I’m afraid. The memory stick is full. Still we’ve got enough evidence I think.”
“Yeah. Pity you haven’t got the bit with him arguing with me, but still we’ve got him assaulting Prati. That’s a plus. How long does this memory stick last?”
Ganshai shrugged. (It was a very seductive movement in a sari.)
“Oh I’m not sure. They were only installed on the Friday afternoon before the kidnap. Jalina wasn’t here and I forgot to mention it at home on Friday evening. Before I could tell her the cameras were up and running, we were kidnapped. The guy who installed them said the memory banks should last about two weeks of normal use. But there’s been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing what with the police and everything since the kidnap. They were here all weekend checking Jalina’s desk diary and testing phone numbers etc.”
“That’s a huge memory.” I observed.
Ganshai nodded as she continued.
“Yes, they’re big memory sticks about two hundred gigabits or something and they’re piggy-backed. The camera only activates when somebody is in Jalina’s office but it remains on for a fixed period after the office is vacated.”
“I gasped as the significance hit me.”
“So this camera’s been working since before the kidnap.”
“Well; - yes, - I suppose it has. Hold on! Do you,-“
Ganshai’s eyes widened as she realised exactly what I was thinking.
I stepped into Jalina’s office and looked around for the camera. Despite checking it out, I failed to spot the camera then Ganshai showed the tiny lense tucked away like a little stud on top of the tall book case. It was absolutely tiny.
“Jee’ze, it's almost invisiblke!” I wondered. “That’s nifty. Lets run it back from day one.”
Ganshai scampered back to her computer (Gracefully I might add.) and busied herself at the keyboard. Soon we had what I was looking for, a full recording of Sanji’s term of residence during Jalina’s absence right from the moment when we had learned of Jalina’s kidnap. It was but minutes after we left to find out what had happened at Jalina’s house and Sanji was already lounging in Jalina’s chair. In less than an hour, his mobile phone rang.
“Yes. You’ve got them!” —
Inaudible voice on phone.
“You stupid fools. I told you to get rid of them. Kill them!”-
Inaudible voice again.
“No. I won’t agree to that. Kill them both. Yes! Including Salina, she’s a piece of vermin, a bloody hijra. Bloody get rid of them. Kill them.”
Inaudible voice again. And Sanji screams angrily.
“NO! No, you stupid bastards all of them. While that piece of shit is alive, she’s a bloody threat. Kill them all!”
Inaudible voice again. Sanji gets even angrier.
“What! A fucking auction! You stupid cunts. I told you to kill her not fucking sell her. She’s not fit to run this outfit. She just a clever hijra bitch who’s conned my mother and father.
The inaudible voice became more agitated then the line closed. Sanji became incandescent with rage and made several phone calls referring to Jalina. Then Sanji left fuming and the next time the camera was activated it was the police checking up. They had not spotted the camera so the evidence was perfectly preserved. I was reaching for my phone but Prati had anticipated me. She held out her own phone with a victorious smile as she whispered.
“You’ve got him!”
The speaker on Prati’s phone interrupted my thoughts.
“Hello. Hello. Jalina here, who’s that?”
“It’s me Jalina, Beverly. I’ve got good news.
“You didn’t know the surveillance cameras had been installed did you?”
“No. I’ve been a bit preoccupied as you well know.”
“Well they have, in fact they were, last Friday, before you were kidnapped.”
“Why wasn’t I told?”
“Well Ganshai was a little pre-occupied as well if you remember.”
“Shit! Of course. So what are you telling me?”
“I’ll let Ganshai have the pleasure of telling you. She found it.”
And Ganshai did, and she savoured the celebrations on the other end of Prati’s phone.
“Job done!” I thought.
And it was. We made several ‘back-ups’ of the evidence before returning to the hotel where an agitated Jalina greeted us. After each running a separate copy on their laptops Paul and Jalina let our whoops of joy as Jalina phoned her mother to warn her.
Sanji was arrested that same evening, from his own house and in front of the neighbours. I felt sorry for his wife for she was embarrassed and hurt about the whole affair. She couldn’t face her mother-in-law. I was busy organising the production plans and it was a couple of months later when I had a long chat with Kansha. Paul had gone back to England and I was staying back to supervise commissioning. That particular evening I was alone with Kansha, I had been invited to tea.
I took the opportunity to talk about Sanji’s wife and her fears.
“Don’t go hard on her. She’s not responsible for Sanji’s evil. Look after her and her children. She is very frightened and alone at the moment.”
Kansha looked at me and smiled.
“What sort of monster d’you think I am Bev? Those are my grand-children we’re talking about. I just wish she would come and speak to me.”
“She’s frightened Kansha and worried that Sanji’s behaviour will be projected onto her. I’ll speak with her and tell her you are aching to see her and the grandchildren.”
I smiled and stood up to kiss Kansha’s forehead.
“Tell her to come as soon as she’s able.”
“Yes. I thought that’s what you’d say. I was only checking.”
Kansha smiled tearfully as she squeezed my fingers.
“You’re a good man Beverly. Will you be staying to help Jalina now that Paul’s returned to England?”
“Only as long as it takes to set up the production. You’re hijra child is a competent woman you know.”
“I only wish now that she had given me grandchildren before crossing over.”
I smiled thoughtfully, wondering what I could say that was both kind and constructive. Then I had it.
“Let Jalina have a hand in rearing Sanji’s boys. He’s going to be in prison for a long time.”
Kansha frowned uncertainly.
“But that would mean all the family knowing that Jalina is Jitendra.”
“Not quite Kansha. It would mean the rest of the family knowing that Jalina was Jitendra. Think of it as a new chapter in your children’s fortunes.”
“It will mean big changes for my family. My daughter Miati. Her fiancée might renounce her if they learn she has a hijra for a brother. Her fiancée is from a very respectable family.”
“Is that family so respectable that it knows of no compassion? I would not want my grandchildren to be the children of such a father or such a family.”
“But the man must be told. The contract of marriage, -“
“D’you want me to sound him out. Perhaps if the news came to him from somebody of a different culture, a European.”
“Will you be tactful?” Kansha begged.
I smiled. I was now an old hand at sounding out homophobes and transphobes.
“I will know his opinion even before he knows what I am asking.”
A small tear escaped Kansha’s eye as her teacup rattled in the saucer held by a nervous hand. She looked at me quizzically.
“Tell me Beverly; are all modern Europeans like you? You and Paul have been so, so supportive and kind to my oldest child.”
I debated revealing my true self to Kansha. But first it behoved me to check out Kansha’s true feelings towards all transgendered people, not just her own child. I asked her about her feelings towards Jalina’s friend Ganshai. Kansha frowned slightly but more or less came up positive.
“Well she’s been with Jalina through thick and thin so I have to admire her loyalty and friendship.”
“Yes Kansha, they are like glue now. If you had a friend as loyal to you as Ganshai is to Jalina would you stick with her to the death?”
“Do they, - you know, - do they sleep together? Do they?”
“I don’t know Kansha. Would it matter if they did?”
Kansha hesitated. This was often the true test of enlightenment for heterosexual people. Picturing a gay or transgendered couple in their most intimate, physical moments. Nothing salacious or offensive, nothing revolting just that deep, deep intimacy, the physical intimacy. If a heterosexual person could handle these images and yet still remain supportive and friendly then there was a real chance of an old friendship standing the test of revelation.
In Kansha’s caser however, it was even more poignant, she was still Jalina’s mother and daily getting closer to her newly won daughter. She looked at me and started to weep softly.
I don’t know Beverly. I’ve lost both my sons now. I so want my family back. Do you think Jalina would object to her sisters finding out about her?”
Jalina and I had spoken about this issue several times. We met daily at the factory and as we spent time on the factory floor going over the endless decisions about the layout and production process we often fell to chatting about her situation. Jalina could talk to me because she had learned of my transvestism.
I had once removed my outer shirt as I leant over an assembly ‘robot’ and I had forgotten about my sweat marks. Jalina had spotted the sweaty outline of my bra under my tee-shirt. Naturally it surprised her at first but of course, she immediately understood my explanation. Then her discovery brought her tears of joy and an understanding as to why I was so sympathetic to her. It also gave her another like minded confessor, (Ganshai was her other ‘confessor’.) and from that moment, when we were having our tea-breaks in the privacy of our office, she opened up. I quickly confirmed what I had already suspected, Jalina desperately missed her sisters and even her sister-in-law. She had told this to both Ganshai and me in no uncertain terms and on several separate occasions.
For once I was able to give Kansha a fairly certain answer. I reached out and gently squeezed Kansha’s old and bony fingers as I confirmed.
“Jalina desperately wants to know her sisters again. She always held that it was her family who didn’t want her.”
Kansha burst into tears and slumped in her chair as she ‘confessed’.
“It’s true, we have been the bigots. How could I have been so cruel to my own first-born son? How could I have missed his hurt, - the signs of his hurt?”
“Did you never suspect?” I asked . “When she was younger.”
She paused then slowly nodded her head.
“There were instances. I caught him playing with my Saris a couple of times. He was very young, just four years old then. I had just weaned Sanji and conceived Miati . It was just him, me and baby Sanji in the house as Pradjit worked hard with the business. My in-laws were not much comfort to me. I actually indulged Jitendra the first time thinking it was a childish game then on the other occasions I became alarmed. I told Pradjit and the rest is family history; the beatings, the punishments, the ridicule. Later, as the other children arrived, I could see the envy in his eyes as his younger sisters grew up to wear pretty dresses and then their saris, but I always ‘persuaded’ him to stay with the boy things, if only for his own protection. I should have realised. I was a poor mother. Pradjit’s family always were intolerant.
Even you Beverly, a stranger, a European could see more than I saw. You could see past the hijra. How could I have been so blind and how is it a complete stranger could see Jitendra’s distress better than his own mother? You must be a very special man.”
I was almost tempted to tell her of my transgendered self and explain why I was sensitive to Jalina’s hurt but I avoided that pitfall. One transgendered circumstance was enough for the distressed woman to handle. It would have been conceited of me to project my circumstances onto the Sha family. They had enough problems as it was; what with one son now a hijra and the other son in jail awaiting trial for conspiracy to murder and kidnap. I was able to reassure Kansha of her problem though and asked her.
“Do you want to tell your other daughters, or d’you want Jalina to do it?”
Kansha sucked her lip.
“We’d best ask Jalina.”
“No sooner said.” I smiled as I opened my phone and set it to speaker.
Jalina answered and I could tell she was in a good mood about something. This was an excellent time to break the news.
“What! Are you certain?”
“Of course I’m certain darling, d’you want to speak to her?”
Jalina snorted with derision.
“Of course I want to speak to her. Put her on.”
Kansha had heard Jalina sounding happy and enthusiastic and she beamed at me as I handed her the phone. They agreed to let Kansha break the news then chatted about family and then the business. The good news at the factory was that Jalina’s first production run had been a success. They had the production of the primary component completed and now they could progress the manufacturing run to other smaller components. Then came the final assembly of the complete unit. Both women were supremely happy.
After Kansha put the phone down she smiled at me and invited me to stay until her daughters came home from university. We joined dear old Pradjit Sha in their garden where his carer prepared tea. One they had privacy Kansha told him the good news. Pradjit’s frail hands trembled with joy at the news. He would at least have three of his children around his table that evening.
We were chatting softly and quietly savouring the warm evening sunset when we heard laughter coming from the hall; the sisters had arrived home from college. They immediately joined us in the garden and kissed their frail old dad before sensing that something of import was brewing. Kansha patted the two seats on the swing seat and the girls slid gracefully to sit either side of their mother.
I don’t know what it is but Indian women have a way of dealing with the Sari that makes them so graceful and seductive. The girls smiled knowingly as they caught my eyes following their graceful movements. Kansha took each girl’s hand and squeezed them as she drew a deep breath and glanced nervously at me. I nodded encouragement and she broke the news.
“Girls, you know this hijra who is running the factory?”
“Yes mummy,” they chorused.
“Well I have some news about her.”
Both girls looked expectantly as Kansha paused before digging deep of her courage.
“She is related to us.”
“How?” Asked Miati.
“Is she a cousin?” Geeta added.
“No. She, - she’s closer than that; she, - she, - she’s your older brother, she’s Jitendra.”
“She was Jitendra,” I added to reinforce the circumstance and to give the girls time to gather their thoughts and to ensure the girls understood.
“They looked at me then at Kansha then at their beloved father.”
“Is, - is this true daddy?” Geeta gasped.
Pradjit nodded and smiled. The creases around his tired old eyes betrayed his happiness and relief as he whispered weakly.
“Don’t be angry with Jalina. I have forgiven her and accepted her back into the family. So has your mother.”
Miati turned to her mother as the news sank in.
“But, - but, - she, - she’s so beautiful. She looks nothing like before.”
“That’s because she’s had surgery.” I enlightened them.
“Oh!” Greeta squeaked, “and, - you know, - down there as well?”
I nodded and both girls fell silent for several seconds before Miati looked at me again.
“How do you know so much about him?”
I corrected her with a smile.
“About her, Miati. Jalina is a girl, she always was.”
“Okay then her; but how come you know so much about these hijras. How did you get to know her? - I mean how would you have even met her? When you first came to India, that is.”
“Yes, Geeta added thoughtfully, “I mean a British business man would not normally go into the slums and strike up an acquaintance with somebody deemed lower than the untouchables.”
I replied enigmatically and lied a little bit to protect Jamie’s and Calista’s secret.
“I move in all circles at all levels except criminal ones. It helps me get a feel for a country. You can’t just judge a country by its rich and powerful or the high and mighty.”
The girls seemed to accept my answer so I told them that Jalina was prepared to meet them that night if they wished. Their expressions widened first with surprise, then with hope followed by anticipation and finally joy as it reflected in the tearful sparkle wetting their eyes. They turned to their parents, gazed inquisitively then demanded to know.
“Daddy, how long have you known Jalina was our brother?”
“Your sister;” Kansha corrected as Pradjit nodded.
“Oh, all right then, our sister.” Miati conceded, seemingly irritated with her own mistake.
Kansha answered as Pradjit lay back in his wheelchair. He was tired from all the excitement and the afternoon’s exertions.
“Your father has known since Mr Whitworth and Beverly first came here; the night of the second meeting with the round table and the trade commission.”
Geeta stared at her mother.
“But, - but that was over eight months ago!”
“Yes it was indeed. I only found out about a month or so ago. We were very frightened of you girls and Sanji learning about it.”
“Why?” Geeta demanded.
“Good gracious girl, we are in business. We depend on your father’s contacts and friends to stay in business. What would happen to the family’s reputation if everybody knew about Jitendra becoming Jalina?”
Geeta conceded the point but then Miati expressed her concerns.
“What about my forthcoming wedding to Abhay? What will he think of Jalina? He is bound to find out and his family are very respectable!”
“I cannot say. Beverly has offered to intercede if you are willing. He thinks that they might be more willing to accept Jalina if Beverly explains to them the western ideas. The idea being that if India wished to modernise then its people must learn to modernise, from the grass roots up. Adopting more tolerant ideas is a good step in that direction.”
Miati frowned. Abhay’s family were one of the most well-known in Kolkata and a cast above the Shas. They had not been very impressed when Abhay brought Miati home the first time but she had worked hard to impress them and her naturally vivacious personality coupled with her beauty had slowly won Abhay’s father to the idea of their marrying. Miati could see all her hopes going down the drain. Abhay’s mother was a terrible snob. The scandal of having a hijra in the family might be one step too far, especially if that hijra was accepted back into the family. Poor Miati was torn in half. She desperately wanted her favourite ‘brother’ back and yet her marriage was at risk. She started to cry.
“What am I to do?”
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