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They don’t look at my age; they make video calls and talk for hours with me.

Queerspeak 1.0

I first ventured into the koti world as a 13 year old. My father had passed away when I was 10, and my mother could not work much because of her health issues. So I had to step up and support my family. 

At 13, I went for my first program in Uttar Pradesh, which launched my career as a dancer. They named me Punam after the popular actress Poonam Dhillon, who had just delivered one of her biggest hits, Noorie. Within a year and a half, I became a very popular dancer in the district of Balia in UP, because, hailing as I did from Calcutta, I knew a lot about clothes and makeup. I would design and stitch my outfits by myself and explore new and creative ways to fashion myself. This earned me a lot of fame and admiration in my profession. 

I was a dancer for nearly 40 years. Then I returned home when my mother retired. Now I stay at home in West Bengal and do local programs whenever I can. I am also associated with an NGO called Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society. 

As a koti in my 50s, I feel that aged kotis are fading into oblivion in the eyes of some younger kotis, who do not respect us. They think they have come out and are doing something unique that nobody has done before them. But we have done double the work in our lives. We have never hidden behind a purdah; that is why we could travel so far and do dance programs, badhai and cholla. While it is true that things were not as advanced then as they are in 2024, we made our way through life without hiding who we are, and we are still doing so. 

However, as we age, our importance diminishes in the eyes of some kotis. They don’t want to respect us and often criticize the way we do things. I have experienced that. I feel that many people might think that once we age, there isn’t any work available for us. People might think so, but I do not. I will never stop walking down my path. 

Even today, I wear bikinis and seductive outfits and make videos where I perform to songs, which I then post on Facebook and Instagram. I have not fallen behind the times; in fact I have learnt how to use the new technology of this age to take my career forward. I have taken my talents to the internet; today, I do on videos what I used to do before on stage. I design and put together my outfits, apply my makeup, and perform to romantic songs. I still receive a lot of appreciation for my talent. The public gives me love, they leave me good comments, and that makes me feel proud. They don’t look at my age; they make video calls and talk for hours with me. Every evening, when I go online, I get a lot of video calls. Every evening I dress up and apply makeup to get on these calls, because I am a dancer, an artiste; that is how my admirers like me; hence, that is the persona with which I have to come and converse with them in the video calls. 

People might think being aged makes one useless, but I don’t agree with them. I am still going strong, and will continue to do so in the future. 

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