Looking for Pinki

Sunday Stories

There is little that sets Tilakdi apart from other villages in the area except perhaps that it falls in the heart of the Maoist pocket in Purulia in West Bengal and yet is peaceful. That and Pinki Pramanik.

Pinki was the village girl who displayed a talent for running and went on to win medals and make a name for herself in sports. Not surprising then that many in Tilakdi are puzzled to hear that she may not be a girl in the first place.

Sixty-year-old Baisakhi Machowar from neighbouring Tunturi village says she is "shocked". Machowar, who has been delivering babies for the last 40 years, says she remembers cutting Pinki's umbilical cord and that the baby was a girl. "Her father gave me three kilos of rice and a saree. They were very poor so I didn't get any money from them. I've been midwife to all his children. Now, I hear people are saying that she is a boy. I don't believe it," says Machowar.

Pinki's house in Tilakdi is full of 'gifts' she got from winning in a tournament in Jharkhand: a cow in the cowshed, a gas cylinder in the house and a scooty parked near the courtyard. A Honda City is also parked outside the house, a sign of the prosperity that Pinki brought to her family.

Pinki's mother Pushparani sits inside the house, baffled by the arrest of her daughter.

Pushparani and her husband Durgacharan, a driver who stopped working once Pinki started earning, heard about her arrest a day later, when the news flashed on television. Pinky, 26, was arrested on June 14 after her live-in partner alleged that she was in fact a man and accused her of rape.

"As a mother, I know that Pinki is my daughter. I pray to God that she gets justice," says Pushparani, fighting back tears. "I heard from our neighbours that the woman who accused her had come to Tilakdi before but I've never seen her. I once visited Pinki in Kolkata and saw that woman there. She used to stay nearby. I don't know why she is making such accusations," she says.

... contd.

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