—A piece of writing, from a girl who suffered from Wanderlust—
I was walking through the streets of Kolkata that day. I’d been there for a week now, and travelling around tasting the city’s food was one of the favourite pastimes that I’d found. You couldn’t believe the various type of food you could taste in the city. From the phuchka, to Momo, the ‘Calcutta’ Biryani, and any kind of food that you named, you had it. Yes, you’d have to find it though.
I’d been on a tour to the Chinese-centre of the City; namely Tangra or China Town as the people here preferred calling it. You’d even think for a moment if you were actually in Kolkata or you’d came to China somehow. The food there was actual Chinese, no Indian tadka to it, because the people there were actually from China who had came and settled there during wartime.
I was staying near a place called Triangular Park, at the Southern Central of the city. A very busy place indeed, but my host; the man who had rented me his apartment for the month that I was here, was a very nice man. He stayed 10 minutes away, and checked on me every now and then. He also didn’t have any problem about me coming back after midnight. Seemed like, girls were pretty outgoing in the city, of course depending on if the family allowed it or not.
At the crossing was actually one of the busiest shopping centrals. Ballygaunge and Gariahat barely minutes away, and with Durga Puja approaching, the crowds on the road was huge. I had decided that I was going through Durga Puja in the city this year. Being here, couldn’t miss out on the festival; and my Calcattian friends had definitely promised me the whole tour of the city in those five days.
There was this particular woman I noticed every day nowadays, at the crossing.
Today she was wearing this little black dress which hugged the body in the right places. Her makeup was not too bold, but her lip colour definitely was. Her hair was straight, bleached at the ends, and she flicked them back every now or then. She seemed to be in her thirties or so.
Being me, I never had any problem talking to strangers. She was one of those women who didn’t have a bitchy air to her; then again I don’t have a right to describe as what is bitchy and what is not. She seemed approachable. Finishing the fries that I had been nibbling on for a long time now, I approached her.
I’d seen her watching up and getting on cars many a times, and I was somewhat sure of what she was or what she did. For me, it didn’t matter. Why should it? I wasn’t one of those people who thought of keeping myself away from them.
“Hey!” I greeted.
She was calm as she looked at me, and then upped her brows frowning a bit. Then she smiled. She was petite, had a layer of makeup on her face which almost looked natural; but as I mentioned, her lips were an exception. She was wearing black wedges. Her curves were noticeable. Her breasts were full; some people would kill for having them others would think, ‘How the hell does she manage with them?’
“Hello.” She nodded.
I got to know her name. She answered; Nandini. I smiled and nodded back. When she asked mine, I provided her with it. That was the starting of our conversation.
After that, she stood there almost every day, and I walked up to her and talked. It had become a ritual. She was a normal woman to talk to. I never understood why she did what she did, that didn’t change the fact that she was as woman as I was or another woman was.
So one day, after a few days of talking to her I asked her.
“I’m a self-made prostitute, Ira.” She smiled.
“Why would you do something so…” I trailed off thinking of a word.
“Crude? Shameful? Are those the words you are searching for?” She smirked a little and nodded, understanding what I was asking.
“Well, the society does see it as shameful. Slut has always been a crude word, for elites a prostitute, if you call it that way.” I shrugged.
She chuckled; a lovely sound it was. “As I said sweetheart, I’m a self made prostitute.”
“Well, let’s say long story short. I come from a very mediocre family. Ran away with a boyfriend when I was 19. Was just a pass-material in studies, because what else do you expect from a girl who was always chattering on and about with either her boyfriend or friends? Well, after I ran away, I came to Kolkata. We stayed here for some while; barely living. I was from the outskirts of the city. Then he showed me pleasure. We had sex almost every day. You know…” She chuckled again, “I tried searching for a job. I got one in one the closest saree shops. He was working in one shop as well. We had been lucky to get jobs.”
“How did you get into this though?” I asked, drowning in her story.
“We broke up.” She said plainly, “We hadn’t got married. He found a better girl, whose family was giving a lot of money along with a place to stay as well as an alcohol shop. And his new father-in-law has a chain of those shops, and one daughter and two sons. He got loaded.”
“Me? I was doing two jobs to stay in the city, to keep a roof overhead. We were three girls now, sharing a place because he had given away the place we’d been living.”
“Ow.” I snorted.
“Not really. He had shown me the path to sex. And honestly speaking, I was allured by sex. Passing time with men. Oh! One of the places I worked in was a little cozy bar in Park Street. I’d been lucky getting a job there too. But being in the city for three years had opened me up to a lot of networking. In that bar, there was the first customer. He was young. A college student, but loaded with money. Had come with friends. Was very drunk, and was of course looking for sex. I’d been missing it, and then he started flirting around. I was just a worker, almost done with my time.”
“Well, we sneaked out. Had sex in his car, and he asked me how much he was to pay. I had no idea about what prostitutes took. I asked him for like seven thousand you know. That was like half of my earning every month. He said, ‘You are cheap then’.”
“Had no idea. Took it anyway. He had another roll in the sack for three times, then it was over. Then came one man, then another. Left the job in the saree shop because I was earning a lot more. And since I was self-employed, no one could dictate me around. I slept with people who seemed worthy, paid well. Of course it was tough time choosing, but not always does the other guy want sex. Sometimes they are just looking foe sexual fun. I learnt this the hard way. Some of them were even lousy at sex, but since the payment was good… And well, I learnt how shake the booty and became a dancer/waitress in another better club.”
“What now?” I asked quietly.
“I have some specific clients now usually, other than if I want another one to seduce after all.”
“No hurt? No drugs?” I asked, interested.
“Lots of alcohol and smoking though. I’ve stayed clear from the rest. Hurt? No. Sex for me is fun, unless I’m too sore.”
I chuckled at that. “You sure are weirdly amazing Nandini Di.”
She looked at me, taken aback, “Di? After all I’ve told you why would you even see me as an older sister?”
“Why should I call you a slut when you chose your profession?”
She looked impressed, “Seems like my client ditched me today.” She sighed looking at her watch.
She was walking away, when I called her back to ask her one simple question, or maybe the most complex one.
“Don’t you ever want to do something else? Be a mother?” I asked.
“I have a daughter. She’s two, lives with one of my roommates during the night. You should meet her someday. As for a job, yes I’m quitting after this Puja. Durga Maa sures gives the power of being a lady, I guess I’ll have to search somewhere where they accept me.”
“I’ll hope you get it soon.” I wished, honestly.
“Come meet Asha someday,” She smiled. I took Asha to be her daughter, “She gives me hope. I’ll help in a NGO next I guess. Life’s all about flavors.” She winked before walking away.
She changed my whole thought about Prostitutes, sluts, the whole world altogether. Never got the chance to ask whose daughter she had. I decided I had to stop my mind from judging as well as stereotyping about everything as well. Nandini, was one of those people who made me understand that.