In a world where even following your passion is considered to be a defiant move, Manabi went after hers, kicking society’s intolerant ass – every step of the way.
This begs the question, why does Manabi’s journey deserve to be celebrated any more than anyone else’s?
For starters, Manabi dared to be herself in our often overtly imposing country. Read as a strong, driven woman with the physical appearance of a man.
If Manabi’s life were a movie, the protagonist in the first half would go by the name of Somnath. Hailing from a small village in West Bengal, an intelligent and aware Somnath knew at an early age that his identity didn’t quite agree with his appearance. By the looks of what followed, it would have seemed wiser to stick with the original script, and let things be as they were. But as movies go, the protagonist (even if unaware at the time,) is always born with unimaginable strength, as if built to weather the inevitable storm.
Taking matters into his own hands, Somnath underwent a sex-change operation, optimistic of making sense (more to others than himself). But society cares little for such optimism. Promptly crushing her (now, Manabi) rebellion underfoot, it chose to ostracize her.
In other news, her father decided to show her to a psychiatrist, a ‘professional’ one clearly, who prescribed sleeping pills to help treat her ‘condition.’ The last nail in the coffin was being suspended from the school where she worked as a professor.
Sometimes it’s hope like this that can break your heart, pushing you to the edge, testing your will. What makes matters worse is that Manabi wasn’t asking for a lot: just to be treated like everyone else. But each time her plea was faced with the glaring, red stamp of rejection.