‘Thank you, Vihu!’ Anuradha exclaimed. ‘It such a beautiful drawing! Where did you learn to draw the giraffe like this? My god, you’re learning things faster than I can cope up.’ She admired the birthday card her daughter had just given her in an exaggerated display of love and appreciation.
Vihika’s eyes shone with pride.
It was only a couple of days later when she was laughed at in school that she realised how terrible her painting skills were.
‘She is just being kind to you. Your painting is horrible.’ Said the older kids.
Mom said it was good, she retorted.
'She said that only to keep you happy. You're not her real daughter, that's why.'
Vihika persisted. Everything could be learnt, mom said. But still, they laughed. ‘You don’t have it in you to become a painter. The X-factor is missing!’ They said.
One day, Vihika mustered the courage to ask her mother about this X-factor. Where could she get? Could she buy it next time with a new set of paints?
Patiently, Aradhana explained to her about the chromosomes that determine the gender of a baby. 'You were adopted, Vihu. I am transgender too.'
The next day, Vihika went back to school with even more confidence. 'I was born from the heart because I was adopted.'
That night, Vihika spent hours practising and perfecting different strokes. Everything could be learnt with practice and determination, mom had said. In the art class the next day, Vihika chose to paint again. It turned out perfect this time.
'I don't need the X-Factor because I have the Z-factor,' she said, beaming with pride.