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Jazz by Elizabeth Copeland

By Ranga Iyer-Rajah

A man is trapped inside a dark haired, beautiful body of a girl.

Coming from a traditional and conservative south Asian family, Jazz faces difficulties at every step of his life to fight for his identity. Age four is the first time Jazz tells his mother Chemim that he is not a girl. The mother who is busy in the kitchen grinding spices for the evening meal simply says, ‘don’t be foolish Jaswinder’, and asks him to get ready for dinner.

But that brush off does not deter him, he keeps trying and again on his twelfth birthday the mother is about to describe the basics of womanhood, Jazz tries telling her. But she chides him.

It is on his seventeenth birthday he finally decides to put an end to his misery and announces in front of the gathering that what he seems outwardly is not his real self. His real self is trapped inside his outer being of being Jaswinder, a beautiful girl.

Elizabeth Copeland explains the difference between transgendered, gay or lesbian in a matter of fact manner through this exchange between Jazz and his father. This is the scene where Jazz is informing his father that he has gained another son. The father simply questions Jazz. ‘So let me understand this. You are gay. A lesbian.’When Jazz replies he is transgendered and that he is a man, his fathers lets out a bitter laugh. Finally his father gives him an ultimatum. Either end this ‘nonsense’ or leave the house. Jazz opts for the latter.

Looking for a roof to stay under he approaches his best friend. But is turned away because Jennie is scared it might not go down well with her parents. Facing rejection at every step he starts living on the streets with a homeless who gives him the address of an acquaintance.

One connection leads to another and Jazz lands a job at a hair saloon. Bit by bit, piece by piece he strings his life and builds it. Jazz now has one dream, and that is to show his real self to the world by getting surgeries and other aids that will transform him into a complete man.

Though the narration ends on a hopeful note of how Jazz finally manages to get people to understand who he really is and not the perception of what they have of him. It does leave one asking this questions about humans. Do we really live our lives or merely exist on impressions created by others?

Jazz is published by Quattro Books Inc. Toronto.

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