When Mahima left her house at the age of 13, life had something rather difficult planned for her. Initially, she worked for someone who was kind enough to educate her; she was given the opportunity to study till Class X. Following the school education, she got a job at a company located in Davanagere, but a traumatic experience of sexual abuse compelled her to move to Bengaluru.
In this city, she started working in a hamam as a sex worker. But soon after starting work, she found herself feeling uncomfortable in her surroundings. She didn’t like the violence, of which there was a lot, and immediately switched jobs. She began work as a cook and kept at it for a while, before suddenly falling sick one day. Her family doctor suggested that she get tested for HIV infection but she was apprehensive. After much persuasion on the part of the doctor, she got the test done. When the result came back positive, her world seemed to end. She recalls that at that point, she had lost all faith in life. She was then also struggling with a partner who was only interested in extracting money from her and not in providing any emotional support. Mahima was left so distraught that she even left her job.
Thankfully, not all was lost. When her doctor offered to provide her the requisite ART medication through a private source, she decided to take it. In spite of this, there came a time when she fell extremely sick. All the money she had saved got used up in one sweep and almost overnight, she was staring at destitution. Mahima was severely depressed during this phase and didn’t leave the house for close to six months.
In these dark times, a TV interview saved her life. The interview featured a transgender activist from an organisation called Samara and it sparked some hope in her. She approached Samara, seeking help. Through them, she was connected to the Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospitals, where she began receiving her ART medication for free.
Mahima confesses that her depressive phase remains a very hazy memory. In spite of struggling with sleeplessness, fear, and deep loneliness that comes with depression, Mahima fought hard for freedom. Today, she is a resplendent woman who is leading an independent and happy life.
Written by Anagha Bharadwaj.