Andhra, in the south of India has a unique system of surnames. These have no bearing to family profession or caste. These run in families and are passed down
from father to son. They can be loosely called house-names in English. But as usual, women have to adopt their husband’s surname after marriage. But mostly these house-names are used as initials
before or after your first name. Why I mention it here is because it created a minor gender confusion right in my childhood. My name Mohan Akkuri often got written down and uttered as Mohana, a
girl’s name. Right from childhood I did not look much of a boy and many new teachers and students in our co-ed school, at least for a while, assumed I was a girl. These mistakes did produce sniggers
from my classmates, but somehow did not create too much trouble for me from older boys. That may be because I did not study at that school beyond my tenth birthday. By that time I was too much into a
classical dance form called Kuchipudi. My father himself was a dancer in that tradition and encouraged me to pursue it.
The village of Kuchipudi, the seat of the dance form, was not away from the city where we lived. My father felt that my talent, if properly nurtured in that
village could make me rich and famous. He decided to request the elderly guru who had taught him to take me into his academy at Kuchipudi.
We presented ourselves before the guru carrying in our outstretched arms a traditional plate full of offerings. After listening to my father’s request he smiled
at me kindly and asked me my name, I proudly told him that my name was Mohan A. He continued to smile and said he would like to call me Mohana, as it was the name of the beautiful female incarnation
of our Lord Venkateshwara. As kuchipudi is a dance form traditionally performed by males dancing as girls, I had no inhibition to being called by a female name. Anyway it was no new experience for
me! But what was a bit surprising was that my guru also suggested I live as a girl, to enable me to perfect female mannerisms in normal life.
So began my life as a female, much before I understood the implications of this change. While we spent most of our time in learning and practising dance,
private tutors were appointed by my guru to teach all disciples the normal school subjects. The government had allowed us to appear for the state school certificate as private candidates. Without
consulting anyone I even filled up my application for the state examination with the name Mohana. I appeared for the examination in my normal female clothes and on successful completion, received the
government certificate acknowledging my status as a girl.
Adolescence did bring about changes in me. The superior-mother (my guru’s wife) encouraged me to use a turmeric based herbal scrub, which minimised the growth
of hair on my body. I had, by then, lush and long hair on my head. By the time I was ready to perform on stage, I started getting proper waxing done. It was during my first performance on stage that
I was provided with my own padded undergarments. I wore my traditional heavy silk costume on top of my padded panties and understood the addition allure of female curves on my appearance. As I wore
the traditional gold jewellery as a part of my dancing ensemble, I realised how attractive a diamond studded gold pendant looks, as it rests atop the full-blown breasts of a young woman. That night,
I danced as never before. Photographs, which arrived a few days later, told me how charming I looked in the role of Satyabhama, the consort of Krishna. The most popular of Kuchipudi dance numbers is
the pot-plate dance in which a dancer keeps a pot filled with water on her head and her feet rest on the edge of a brass plate. She moves on the stage manipulating the brass plate while performing
hand movements without spilling a drop of water from the pot. As I admired my photograph of that dance, I felt very attracted to my own female form. Suddenly I felt an erection develop. Though I had
had many wet dreams, and did masturbate occasionally in private, it was for the first time I was having an erection with my guru and other disciples surrounding me. I felt extremely
My Guru probably noticed something from my facial reaction. He asked other disciples to disperse, saying he had to discuss some administrative matters with me.
By that time I was already assisting him with the teaching work at the academy and it was natural that we discuss many things privately.
“Mohana! The time has come for you to take a major decision in your life. I think you are beginning to feel the pull of Kama (lust). It is no longer necessary
for you to live as a woman to learn womanly ways. Now, as soon as you wear your feminine attire, you will surely behave as a woman. But for the rest of the time you can choose to live as a man. I
want you to leave tomorrow for our forest home, where you will live alone for a week. Carry both male and female clothes with you. I will also give you books, which will help you understand man woman
relationship. Before I complete, let me tell you there is nothing wrong about pleasuring yourself with your hand from time to time.”
I was blushing furiously by the time my guru finished. I thought he had guessed about my wet dreams. I looked up at him and found him smiling, “My dear child! I
am also like a father to you. Not only on the stage, even now, in your simple dress, you are as beautiful as any woman. You have also become a good dancer. But I must tell you that in the past few
years the audiences are declining for our art form. You need to decide on two things. Should traditional dance be your means of livelihood? Do you want to live your personal life as a man or as a
woman? Both these you need to decide by yourself.”
I did decide on my own and that too in three days. I realised I could not live without dance. Maybe the classical form in which I was trained may not find
patrons, but I was sure people would not forsake dance as a form of entertainment. I was sure I could use my learning to find a livelihood as an entertainer and I felt dance in any form would be
enjoyable for me. So I had decided on my career as a dancer. The other question did not go through such a rational process. I just knew I had to be a woman. I realised that this meant I could not
marry anyone. No woman would consider me suitable and I could not give a man what he would want.
Having decided, I immersed myself fully into the work of the academy. Still there were enough patrons and enough disciples to keep us busy. Now I took to
wearing padded undergarments all the while and behaved much more surely as a woman. I often received compliments from visitors about my talents and beauty. At those times I would need to pleasure
myself and I did so without guilt. I always pleasured myself as I dressed up for my stage performances. That way I could fully concentrate on my performance without any
Most of our performances took place at festivities at village temples. Most villagers people took me to be a girl. Since a few girls were already performing
Kuchipudi it did not cause any flutter. In fact, it increased the demand for performances by me. Often important people in the villages sought a few moments of privacy with me. Except on one
occasion, these were harmless meetings with a lot of flirting. A few requested that I place a sweetened and folded betel leaf in their mouth. Others would request a kiss, which I would agree to, if
found the person to be pleasant. On one occasion, the village big man latched the door while I was alone with him. He managed to pull off my sari just as I realised where he was headed. I quickly
reverted to my male voice and made him place his palm over my crotch. So shocked was he, that he sent me away with a lot of gifts to keep my mouth shut.
My own reactions to these interactions were mixed. I did feel turned on by some of the men. I might have gone a little further sexually if only they had asked.
At the same time I felt revolted by the man who wanted to rape me. This was also the time when a few girls were studying Kuchipudi at our academy. As I got to know these students, I started flirting
with them almost as a man would. After all I was their teacher and that made me, figurativley speaking, a ‘man’ to them. There again things remained platonic. During that period, I reached
conclusions, which became my beliefs: If we are free of inhibitions, any relationship between two human beings, can reach a sexual level. Probably labels like homo, hetero, trans are totally
artificial. All of us carry within ourselves a desire to have sex with other human beings. Some of it flowers genetically and culturally while others remain dormant for precisely the same reasons. I
believe the social fear of sexual anarchy has made us too repressive in our sexual mores. I have often wondered if I could accept bestiality by the same token. But in my mind, even today I equate
bestiality with rape. For me only consenting adults can use each other’s bodies for pleasure. Within this framework, there should be no restrictions as long as things are done in private
Things were progressing well with my life until the calamity struck. Fire destroyed our academy and took away the life of my guru and the superior mother. I was
devastated. I reflected on all that the great man had taught me in life and decided it was time to move on. Most of the other disciples wanted me to stay on and run things. I realised that they were
seeking my leadership so that I could continue to provide them the environment that they were used to. But I felt it was not in my interest to stay put at the academy. I decided to
An overnight journey took me the capital city of Hyderabad. I met a leading business tycoon who was an ardent admirer of my guru and he offered me the position
of an in-house choreographer at his film city.
Thus began my new career. Though thousands of the people lived at the film city, I was strangely alone and free. I was
placed in woman staff quarters despite the fact I admitted to my benefactor as being born a genetic male. Most neighbours at the hostel knew about me and they accepted me as one of them. Being
artists themselves they could accept me easily. But my secret remained inside our hostel. No colleague outside my hostel had the slightest doubt about my female identity. At first I worked as an
assistant to a senior choreographer and made the transition from traditional dance to commercial dance. Unfortunately not many films were being made in the film city those days. I had a lot of time
on my hand. I devoted my time to read all I could find about filmmaking. During winters I loved to loll on the green lawns of the many parks of the film city with a book in my
Many small budget filmmakers used the services of the in-house staff like us. All kinds of support persons were available onsite. We were all on a minimum
salary. We were free to enter into contracts with visiting filmmakers and keep what they paid us for our services. That meant we really had to find work in the films being made, to supplement our
income. That led to some competition among us, but since there were not too many of us around, we gave in to each other from time to time.
Within one year of my intership, the senior choreographer, for whom I worked, decided to get married and move over to Hyderabad. That made me an independent
choreographer, in a position to recruit other staff to form a team to carry out my assignments. I was delirious with joy as I reached that position. For all that I had just crossed my eighteenth
Naturally I was at the top of the world. Things were picking up at the film city and I was in a position to get a decent amount of work. After paying reasonable
wages to all those who worked for me, I was able to make a neat pile of money for myself out of most contracts. When it did not make a difference to the continuity, some of the producers operating on
shoestring budgets, actually asked me to dance for their productions. I made extra money on such occasions. Very often when they needed a trained kuchipudi dancer anywhere, I was an automatic choice.
But despite the thrill of actually being shot, working for known banners as choreographer was more profitable. Only sometimes it involved dealing with the huge egos of the heroes and heroines. Most
of them were neither natural dancers nor had any training in dance. But all of them would expect me to create movements for them, which would give them great popularity among the cine goers. There
was also a great deal of competition among various artists for grabbing the largest share of the time in song dance sequences for themselves. My job was to ensure that despite all these demands the
song-dances proved successful at the box-office. My future contracts depended on it!
Producers were always on the lookout for that right mixture of dances, fights and stunts, which would make their film a hit. That had led to the unwritten rule
among choreographers, fight co-ordinators and stunt masters that no suggestions should be offered to producers on each other’s areas. We could try to sell as much of our own speciality without
promoting or reducing the other two areas. I was very careful to follow this code. So I was shocked and speechless when Sivan, one of the handsome fight co-ordinators cornered me one day and blasted
me for suggesting to a producer a cut in fights to accommodate a group dance. Sivan was not only handsome but he was also good at his work. He was also known be very kind hearted and hardly spoke to
anyone except for work. I had often wished he would become my friend. Now it looked I was destined to be a part of his ‘black list’. I just stared at him as he fired away in anger. After a while he
lost his steam and walked off saying, “Just because you are beautiful don’t think you can get away with anything.” I had not spoken a single word in my defence!
As he moved away, I did not know whether to cry or laugh. He was levelling a serious charge at me and at the same time he was complimenting me on my beauty. For
a moment my heart went out to him and the next moment I was cursing him in an under breath. There was a passing thought that it would be nice to be in love with him, but I quickly suppressed the
Next day I picked up a huge fight with the producer who was the cause of my misunderstanding with Sivan. I knew that Sivan was standing a little behind the
producer and could hear every word of what was being spoken. What gave me courage was the fact that I was halfway through my contract and the producer could not complete the sequence without me. Half
of my fight was an act meant for Sivan, because I had already guessed that the producer had merely used my name to cut off a fight sequence and add a group dance. But I wanted him to admit it loud
and clear during our fight so that Sivan would get the message clearly.
The producer was somewhat taken aback by my fury. He did not know why I was so upset. He was further embarrassed by the fact that he had hurt a ‘woman’. The set
was ready to roll and a lot of people were around. He quickly admitted that cutting the fight sequence was entirely his decision and I had no role in it. All that had happened was that he had asked
me for an extra dance because the distributors wanted it. At that time he had mentioned he might need to cut a fight. I had just kept quiet. As soon as he admitted his mistake, I immediately cooled
down and apologised to him for getting angry with him. For a good measure I flashed him a nice smile. The poor fellow had no choice but to say that my anger was justified and he was really sorry. I
was sure Sivan had heard every word of the transaction. Later during lunch, while my mouth was full of food, Sivan just walked up to me and said sorry. He walked off before I could
For Sivan, the matter was closed, but for me things were just beginning. Much as I would try not to think of Sivan, my thought kept turning to him. I realised
how impossible the situation was, but I could not help my thoughts. Maybe I would have overcome my feelings in the next few days but for the incident, which happened.
The film I was working on had one of those teenaged heroines with such a perfect body that men would climax just by looking at her. But the lady knew nothing
about dancing and would not admit it. I had to teach her a sizzling hip shaker, which she would perform, wearing skimpy clothes, in the artificial waterfalls of the film city. I was extremely patient
while teaching her and she was doing reasonably well. Anyway I would be performing, out of the camera angle, for her to observe and follow as the camera captured her movements. I was feeling good
that I had managed her so well. Just then it happened. In one sequence the director wanted her breasts to jiggle a bit. As she practised, my hands came under her breasts and sort of cupped them. I
was just trying to signal to her to jiggle it. Before I knew what was happening the girl stopped dancing, slapped me hard on my cheek and said, “You bloody lesbian. I knew all along that you wanted
to feel me up.” I was totally stunned as I walked off, sat on a nearby rock and cried.
I heard a booming voice near me as I sobbed. Sivan was telling the heroine, “Miss you have to apologise to Mohana now. All technicians here are sure that she
has no sexual feelings for you. She was only trying to make sure you did what was agreed with the director. This shooting will stop now if you don’t apologise.”
All hell broke loose. Everyone was shouting at everyone else. I felt Sivan’s strong arms pick me up and hug me most affectionately. I continued to cry resting
my head on his chest. After some more minutes, the mother of the teenaged star came up and apologised to me on behalf of her daughter. I was calm by then, said it was ok and let my assistant continue
with the dance sequence and left the place with Sivan.
Sivan took me to the Venkateshwara temple in the film city and we sat in the main hall after our darshan. I smiled at him and said, “ But for you, I would not
have known how to handle such a situation. How could she even think of such a thing?”
“My dear Mohana, you have not been reading the film magazines. There are a lot of rumours floating around about her interest in women. She has been denying it,
not because there is anything wrong about being interested in people from the same sex but imagine what will happen to her career if more people believed she is a lesbian. After all her career
depends on her male fans… Do you understand? She is now suspicious of any female coming anywhere near her.”
I understood and smiled at him gratefully. We both realised that our relationship had been totally changed by this incident. We came out of the temple and
started walking along a deserted road. I moved into his arms quite naturally and he kissed me passionately.
The staff artists of the film city are a closed community. Soon everyone concluded that Sivan and I were in love. Suddenly we seemed to be the most popular
couple in the film city. People who wanted to meet Sivan assumed that I would know his whereabouts! Those who wanted to send me messages left them with Sivan. For all on-site parties we were both
called. It seemed, regardless of what we needed, all our friends wanted us to be in love!
Both of us carried on without uttering the words “I love you”, whereas almost everyone seemed to assume we must be sleeping together. Some wanted to know when
we were getting married. Ultimately the inevitable happened. We got together in a minor television serial as lovers. We were forced to say those words of love, which we had avoided in real life. In
one of the scenes as Sivan hugged me from behind, I could feel his bulge and realised he was sexually attracted to me.
That night my mind was in a turmoil. I did not have all that a woman should have and here was this handsome man quite ready to become my husband. One part of my
mind was excited by the development. Other part was depressed with the thought that he would move away from me once he realised I was only a woman outwardly. I cried into my pillow that
After that day, I relented whenever Sivan wanted to kiss me. Occasionally he would squeeze my breast forms through my clothes. The sexual tension was so much
that one day I offered to take him in my mouth. He was grateful and happy as I provided him relief. He did ask me if I was against full fledged sex outside of marriage. I said yes to reduce his
disappointment. That night I cried again in my bed.
I knew it would happen soon and it did. Within a month Sivan asked me if I would marry him. I had already planned my answer. I told him there were many things
my mind which were unsettled and I would visit the Balaji temple in Tirumala and the Lord would guide me. He wanted to accompany me but I insisted on going alone to attend the major festival in
The fifth day is very significant during the autumn festival at the hill temple of Tirupathi, located near the south Indian city of Madras. The temple, which
caters to an average of 50,000 devotees everyday, sees double that number on that day. The Lord (deity) of the temple takes on a female form on that day commemorating a mythological event. The Lord
is referred to as Mohini (enchantress) on this day. She dresses in a sari woven with gold threads. On her head rests a diamond-studded crown. Her neck is adorned with necklaces. Above all she wears a
brilliant diamond stud on her nose. Two golden lotus blooms sprout from her hands. She is taken in a procession along with Sri Krishna in an ivory palanquin. Her right hand adopts a posture of
plentiful blessings to her devotees. Thus the Mohini form of the Lord Venkateshwara captivates the hearts of all the devotees.
It is to this Lord of transformation that I went seeking a solution to my dilemma. My faith was strong and I believed that if I had to live my life as Sivan’s
wife He would provide me a solution before I left the temple town. I had decided that if no solution came up, I would think of it as the Lord’s instruction to end my life. I had already prepared
myself to end my life in such a way that Sivan would never know what had happened to me. I was sure the Lord would give him the strength to overcome his grief and find a new life
It was the evening of fourth day of the festival when I reached the hill. I changed into a silk sari, worn my gold ornaments and headed towards the queue
complex. It was just a few minutes before the entry time mentioned on the token issued to me on arrival. Yet the status board at the entry point indicated a five-hour wait to see the deity. As I
moved from chamber to chamber I chanted the Lord's name and recalled many events of my life. Though I was surrounded by a large number of people, I did not speak to anyone. Close to midnight as I was
nearing the end of my journey, I noticed an old man standing in front of me trying to talk to me. He looked hazy and I realised that I was seeing him through my tears filled eyes. I pulled out
tissues from my bag and quickly wiped my tears and smiled at the old man.
“My dear child, I think you are in great pain. Have faith in our lord. He will have his designs for you. But at the moment you look hungry to me. When you go
before him you should think of him rather than your hunger so can I tempt you with this lovely apple.” The old man gave me a toothy grin as he beseeched me to accept the apple. Somewhere in his eyes
I saw my guru and I accepted the apple and thanked him.
As I bit into the apple, I realised how hungry I was. Within minutes I had consumed the apple. I looked around to thank the old man once again, but he was
nowhere to be found. I assumed he had gone to toilet attached to each chamber of the queue complex. By then the queue was moving into the next chamber and I joined them.
The apple had invigorated me. I began to feel the joy of being in the temple. When I reached the sanctum and found myself in front of the Lord, the fifth day of
the festival had begun.
The bright sunlight was streaming into my hotel room as I woke up next morning. I had observed the sun through a slit in my eyes. I shut them tight again as a
delicious restful feeling coursed through my body. I was dressed in a simple negligee with no undergarments at all. However I was covered with a bed-sheet, as the room was air-conditioned. As I cast
aside the sheet, my hands hit my chest. The unusual softness of my chest made me open my eyes and for the first time, I saw my lovely breasts.
I quickly sat up and made other discoveries. I discovered my narrow waist, wider hips and the new recessed organs between my legs. The lord had delivered his
miracle. I had a fully functioning female body. I had no doubt that there was a womb within me in which mine and Sivan’s children would gestate.
I could wait any longer and called up Sivan on his cell phone. He sounded half asleep but became alert when he realised it was me. “Sivan, I wanted to tell you
that I have got our Lord’s permission for our marriage…”
“Oh darling! That is wonderful…” He could hardly speak after that and started sending me kisses over the phone. After a
while he said, “Mohana, please come back quickly. I miss you.”
“ Yes I will leave from here this afternoon. I just want to witness the Lord’s procession today, being the fifth day. Oh, another thing…I want to drop all the
gold jewelry which I brought with me into the temple collection box. Is that ok?”
“Yes my dear, it is the right thing to do.”
On that joyous fifth day, I watched the procession of our Lord, dressed in womanly finery. I deposited every bit gold which I had carried into the temple
collection and commenced my new life.
Today I am a women with two children. No one who knew my origins as a man, seems to remember the fact. I run a Kuchipudi dance school in the city of Hyderabad.
Interest in the dance form has revived. Sivan has become a famous film director. We, as a family, visit Tirupathi on the fifth day of the festival every year.