Mumbai,DEEPAK GIDWANI : On October 10, it was young Kathak dancer Gaurav Sharma’s birthday. He celebrated it quite literally: taking a new birth as Aashna. The three difficult operations the youngster had undergone over the previous nine months had been successful. He had transformed into a girl, thanks to the efforts and expertise of two Mumbai-based doctors. Gaurav changed his life along with body and gender for his Pakistani boyfriend whom he connected with over Facebook about five years ago.
“On March 5, 2012, he asked me on phone: ‘Will you marry me?’ and I said ‘qubool hai’ (I accept),” says Gaurav who has never met his suitor. The only face-to-face meeting they have had is on Skype chat. “It’s not a physical relationship. It’s a spiritual experience for both of us,” he says.
Gaurav was overwhelmed when Nawaz had offered to undergo the sex change: “I thought this man is willing to give up his identity and personality for me. Why can’t I do it for him?”
But making the decision was perhaps the only easy part. The fears of becoming a different person altogether were ‘haunting’. Gaurav began by looking for help on the internet and finally zeroed in on plastic surgeon Dr Mithilesh Mishra and endocrinologist Dr Ameya Joshi, both experts in ‘gender reassignment’ based in Mumbai.
“In the initial counseling sessions itself, it was very clear that Gaurav was completely prepared in his mind for the gender change,” says Dr Mishra. “This made things that much easier,” he says.
The next big challenge was to get the support of family and friends. Gaurav’s sister Mandakini Sharma, an accomplished dancer and TV serial actress, handled this job well. “She was a pillar of support for me. She stood by me all along and never doubted my choice,” says Gaurav.
“When God is with you and you are doing the right thing, everything begins to fall in place,” says the Kathak dancer, explaining how friends pitched in for the Rs 8 lakh needed for the entire process.
Apart from dancing in prestigious concerts all over the country and abroad, Gaurav has also written two books on Sufi poetry, and Indian classical music and dance. He is presently involved in research on the Lucknow ‘gharana’ (school) of Kathak. But, for now, he is looking forward to meeting the love of his life in March.