Sunday, November 1, 2015

The character of Jana in 'Dance of the Eunuch'

“Dance of the Eunuch” is a short story by Jehangir Bux published by Amazon in 2013. The story begins with “the first get together of the Emerson College dramatic society.” They gather with instruments including a harmonium and a Dijree Doo. This “boy’s college” does not allow female singers, so a boy named Luddan ties ghungroos to his wrists and takes a woman’s role in the performance.

Later, another performer appears who identifies himself as Jana. His father explains: “Jana was born a eunuch...At first we kept it a secret...In school it could not be hidden any longer, soon every schoolfellow started taunting him and he gave up going to school.” Jana has been rejected by his siblings, and his father fears that “now he has started to team up with other eunuchs.” The father is aware that eunuchs “go to marriages and shrines to sing and dance and take part in devotional songs, and other things are said which are too horrible to believe.”

Jana confesses having voluntarily become addicted to Pethidine injections. When asked: “Is it worth while killing yourself?” Jana responds, “It is worse, I can never be a man. I can never love a woman, much as I want her.” Jana would like children of his own, and grieves that his brother’s wife “does not want even my shadow to fall” on their baby son. “I can only have make believe love,” Jana says, saying he’d rather live with eunuchs in squalor than in luxury with his own family who rejects him.

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