Soon it came out, that my host Eka, who I knew was supposed to be the transgender holiness, the bissu, but who daily identified herself rather as a calabai or waria, and a proud one, was actually the Queen of the whole village.
Everywhere we go there were people she knows, everywhere, especially in the worlds which are dominated by women, such as markets, shopping areas, the social gathering spots here or there. But the Queen of Them All, she was still in her Kingdom, in the beauty parlor that was called by her name – Salon Eka. Welcome!
When I first entered this weird ghostly house, where people only lived on the first floor, the second floor was for ghosts and spiders, I had no idea who’s living in this household and where exactly they sleep. I was placed to sleep in the main salon room, where she usually sews (and she’s good, she’s so busy!) and where it gets busy in the mornings. On the walls, there are pictures of her and a man posing just like a newly married couple. Eka really enjoys everything that has to do with beauty and style and decorations and celebrations. That’s her work, her life, and her desire.
And her customers are satisfied. So much, that sometimes it can be pointed out, that the myth of warias having an extremely good sense of style, proves to be working in real again. She’s a busy woman. She was making me an occasional space for sleeping and herself went back in her bedroom. To get there you had to pass a wide area, which can be viewed as a kitchen, but which is basically everything a space can be. There’s also a huge exercise device – a bicycle, where she sometimes exercises, just like the most modern women who would do that in their city apartment where it can be difficult to leave the cozy flat and run around on some asphalt. There she was training, rats sometimes sneaking behind her and always some other people, as her salon was an important social gathering place, for men and women and all possible transgenders. Including her husband. Supposedly her husband already was married once, with a cis woman, who gave birth o two children. Then he fell madly in love with Eka and since then, already for nine years, they have shared some love, work and fun in life.
She had five people working for her. Including her husband. There was also a young strong man. A couple of warias, some ever-smiling women. Apparently many of them are sleeping just behind the narrow wall of room for spending nights. They are sleeping in the most magical room in this house – the very heart of the Eka’s salon. This is where she makes her art. She makes her art of make-up and of styling up the groom and the bride, who perhaps met some two-three months ago, but are eager to marry.
Then the whole family comes together, enjoys some lovely food, that some ten-fifteen women were cooking all day the day before. They exchange some news, take a lot of photographs, sometimes there’s a guy who shoots a video and burns it on a DVD within a couple of days, sometimes there’s some ceremony, sometimes there’s an amazing dance by the bissu, who enter into state of trance and present how the dagger does not enter their body. This is because they are already possessed by the spirit, that has made them supernaturally strong.
Rest of the time everybody eats and drinks water from the single-use plastic cups and wishes best luck for the newly married couple, who were just dressed up by some professional waria, in this area, most probably by Eka. Who also decorated the whole house for this special event, where eventually though the couple gets really bored.