Also, Live on my Behalf
‘Also, live on my behalf’ – ‘whoever lives, please carry on’. That was a badge I’ve seen in Limelight, which piques some poignant memories of mine. It’s captivating, at times, to ‘cease upon the midnight with no pain’. But who lives, he shall remember.
The badge was sadly granted to a friend of mine, Suzuki Marute, a transgender male who ceased to be approximately by November last year. I wasn’t an integral part of Limelight by then since Limelight was intertwined with some traumatising clips of mine. Nonetheless, he died, without a sound. He died in silence. I oft-times wonder if Albert Camus were able to appreciate his own words, that poor people are greater than everyone else, because their fates are to suffer, and to die in silence. How can someone who graduated from ENS have a grasp of the way poor people sustain themselves? Nonetheless, Camus was compelled to voice out, like today I am compelled to do the same.
How can I speak on some transgender person’s behalf? I am cisgender, growing up in a loving family, which nurtures me until today; my upbringing was nearly perfect, and was afforded to me according to the best effort of my parents. How can I speak for a marginalised, downtrodden group without any experience that enables me to relate? But I am writing it, as Camus did, as a eulogy for my friends & acquaintances who died so mercilessly, just like snowflakes that were flying unto ground, and thawed. A untimely life, that was denied an existence; this account might belie those friends, but nonetheless, I am taking the responsibility to sing the dirge song – may you rest in peace.
My first encounter with transgender people was conspired in some Ingress community – a patriarchal community in retrospect – by a transgender female named Garfield. She was compassionate, and I was downcast and melancholic. A breeze from a summer night, she was to me. I first noticed her by her muttering of prospective surgery to her bone. I was piqued by the nature of such a request: how can anyone proactively change their gender? To my amazement, she did not mind informing me about her decisions. She needed no hiding on that matter.
She wasn’t ashamed of her gender, but I was secretly ashamed that I had transgender friends. I was feverish about it, just like a newly enlisted soldier feels about their gun – or to be frank, the zealot of journalism pornography. I thought they must need some sort of help, and I was the redeemer. As it unfolded, it was the other way around. To this day, I am profoundly indebted to my transgender friends, for their special gift of resilience and reassurance I can hardly find in cisgender people.
Gradually, I was an informal observer of those transgender communities, as my understanding of my trans peers deepened, and I found it distasteful to blend into cisgender communities. People in the cisgender, gay cliches often exude a macho vibe that constitutes an abomination to me; however, trans people are most likely unassuming, and not prone to provoke. The reason for they being so nice wasn’t explicit to me, it was afforded clarity by an acquaintance of mine: some techniques are mandatory for minorities to live on, such as understanding, the ability to listen, and a gentle attitude; however, the society did not stipulate such demanding bars for the majority. So, I stayed in, perhaps overstayed, their welcome for a long time.
I know Mr Marute from the forum, Limelight. He talked incessantly about going to Japan, getting accredited by the CATTI as a Japanese translator and making a living out of it. He was someone looks through things with clarity, even a staggering, cruel clarity. I have conversed with him over Skype, and his voice was adjusted by himself to an extent that could not allude to his assigned gender upon prime facie. Anyway, he seemed like a person who paid great endeavour to affirm his gender. He said he doesn’t mind doing some entry-level positions, like waiting on the table, etc. I admired his bravery, for doing entry-level positions with considerable human interaction is hard for every transgender, largely fuelled by the lack of public understanding and social affirming – that undertaking is too heavy, even for me by then, a cisgender, to wait on a table.
He wasn’t a person afraid of talking about his poverty. I sensed his distress in his conversation, even though memories have faded, that he was worrying about some fundamentals like utility in his life. He, again, sighted his circumstances with unflinching sobriety. He was optimistic, one might argue overly optimistic. He once talked about his masculine stereotypes on the forum, and many were accusing him of being excessively macho, even in violation of common conduct.
Anyways, I left the forum since I was perturbed by a relationship I entered there. It was not before March ’23 I heard he was dead. As for how – I don’t know. But most likely, he shared the same end as of most my transgender friends; the path ahead of them was growing dimmer, and hope was forfeited…
Tracking his speech, he kept his optimism before eventuality struck him. Showing no sign of death or willingness to be helped, he marched towards his death. I can’t help but think of many of my trans friends, who disappeared overnight leaving a simple greeting, ‘Good night’, and bid us a silent farewell. They were not afforded a proper burial, and many of them were buried using their assigned gender and name. Their lives are like a big display for their parents, who were in general thrift of love. They had another side, only accessible to us – people who cannot visit them in reality, people whose names weren’t shared. They died alone. Most evidence of the B side of theirs disappeared, as some family dishonour. The real side was erased, alongside their true identities.
How can I lament such deaths? How can I weep when I don’t know his name? Perhaps not knowing his legal name is, in the end, preferable - Since he never lived under that name. I will know him as Mr Marute, a gentle yet resilient soul that once bestowed me unconditional kindness and extraordinary level of trust. It would be rather pleasant to wrap up here, but I believe that the undertaking of us living is to remember them, and carry on, if not only for us, but also for them. Like Madame Misaka said on the badge – whoever lives, please carry on.
We won’t forget you, and we will eat up our despair and continue our struggle in the cruel, cruel world, we shall continue to love, to hope, and keep our faith amidst darkness and sorrow. Now, the long night has dawned, and please, do gently carry your soul to your resting place. Rest in peace, Mr Marute.