Do you remember launch of winters in New Delhi? When you like seldom shivers crossing your body, when the cold breeze doesn’t seem that freezing, when the fragrance of roasted peanuts wafting from across the streets delights your olfactory nerves, when you don’t need hot air blowers but just a cup of tea to keep your hands warm. Well, this was one of the mornings of those days broken in my wrecked apartment. It was 4:30 am in my digital table watch and I was still reading an-already-read-50-times book on my broken swing. Don’t take me wrong, I am not turned as an early riser but for sure this was one of those mornings or I should say, one of those nights when I forgot to sleep; and believe me it happens with me a lot. I have been a nocturnal creature since the moment I was born. I feel more alive and full of ideas at night. World seems more mine at night. Less people, less noise and more of myself.
Well, a broken morning of an insomniac night always gives you two options; either you ruin your day and go back to sleep or you embrace the new born day with jogging shoes on. For once in thousand veins, I chose the second option. Swathing in a cold blanket of smog, Delhi had woken up into a hazy morning.
After running almost half of a kilometer along shivaji marg, when my legs finally surrendered for lactic acid accumulation, I had to stop for a while to feed my lungs with some air. I looked around, there were few trucks and bicycle-riders. But what caught my attention was a black figure standing on the same pavement I was running on. At around a distance of 50 meters,I could see a young girl, all dressed up to her thighs in black impeccable chiffon with heels of almost my hand’s size, confused, shivering and furious about something. I simply saluted her guts and started walking towards her not to have a conversation but just to cross her.
‘Excuse me’, she said, the very moment, I was about to cross her. I turned back. Wow! Being an average looking girl, I was in a mix vein of shock and envy, as soon as I saw her flawless white face with abandoned eye make-up.
‘Yes’– I responded in a pretending-not-to-be-interested tone.
‘I need some money or if you have phone, I need to call a taxi’ – a confident voice.
‘Excuse me’ – “who the hell dressed up like you asks for money early morning”, my thoughts.
‘Yes, I need to go to Gurgaon and I left my wallet in my friend’s car’ – no worries on the face.
‘Ok, so why don’t you call him and ask it back’ – I can be a CID.
‘I left my cellphone too’ – she is definitely not polite
‘I sought my trouser pocket, luckily I had my phone. I unlocked it and gave it to her immediately.’ – Delhi needs few more years to make me a completed delhiite.
She called ‘Easy cabs’ and asks for a taxi at exactly the same place, we were standing.
‘You need some money?’ – Though I only have 50 rupees in my pocket. 😛
‘No, no thanks, I will manage. But I would need a cigarette. Do you have one? – Now, I could see some politeness, smoking can change a person, definitely.
‘No, I don’t’ – who carries cigarettes to morning jog?
‘Oh crap! Taxi would take half an hour to reach here and this dress would kill me by then’ – she murmured, maybe seeking my attention.
I could have gone back to my jogging but something held me back. ‘Okay, I can buy you a cigarette; there is lot of small fag vendors just behind this main market.’
She seemed pleased and followed me quietly. I was amazed at my own behavior. Why I was being overfriendly to this weird girl? But Somewhere, I wanted to know about this mysterious woman who looked beautiful and sounded professional & confident, obviously not drunk and she is all alone on a road, early morning. She was with a friend who had not the mere gentility not to leave a young girl alone on Delhi’s dreadful roads.
She lit the cigarette and inhaled it with closed eyes, exhaling the smoke with a mysterious smile on her face. ‘You are thinking too much about me’, suddenly she caught my thoughts. I was befuddled for a moment. ‘No, no, it’s not like that I am just confused about what are you doing here?’
‘Believe me, you would not like to know’, she continued smoking.
‘No, I would like to and if you want we can walk and talk. It’s still twenty minutes for your taxi,’ I didn’t want to ruin the whole day thinking about this enigmatic lady.
‘There is nothing special about me. I sell myself to make money. This fake-rich, son of a bitch hired me last night, promised me 10000 bucks and then duped me, taking away my money, cellphone, every damn thing, leaving me like this. Given a chance, I would have killed that asshole. Now, as you know me, if you want to continue your jogging, you can leave’, she said all that stone-faced.
My jaw almost touched my fatigued knee. She is a prostitute, my curiosity doubled as for the first time in my life, I was meeting one. I gathered my wits and spoke calmly, ‘no, there is nothing bad about it, and I mean, I don’t have a problem. We still can talk.’
‘What else you want to know?’ how I landed up there? ‘Don’t be so typical,’ girl. My story is not interesting enough to entertain your colleagues at office.’
‘See I didn’t mean that. I guess I should leave. You take care of yourself,’ I said all that turning back.
‘No, wait, I am sorry. It was just sudden. I don’t want to stand here alone. Stay with me for some time. Let’s sit on the next bus stop,’ she looked so different saying that.
‘Where’re you from?’
‘Himachal’ – a big smile on my proud face.
‘Oh I love hills. I went there with a client, to Shimla, he kept me for whole week.’ She had a skeptical humor in her eyes.
‘And you?’ I tried to make the situation easy.
‘Katihar, Bihar, not as beautiful as Shimla.’ Why did you leave Himachal?’
‘For job, I am a MBA & got my first job here in Delhi,’ I responded calmly.
‘You are a MBA?’ for the first time I could see her big smile.
‘Yes I am. Why are you laughing?’
‘No nothing, I am also a half MBA’ – her voice was full of irony.
‘What? Then why you, I mean what happened,’ – I tried to be considerate.
Her face fell with what, grief, memories, repentance, I didn’t know. We kept silent for next few seconds and then she started.
‘I am the third girl child of my parents, the unwanted one. Dad used to work as a clerk in forest department. My two elder sisters got married at the age of 17. Katihar was a small town and my dreams were way too bigger than I was worth. My family wanted me to get married after graduation. But I wanted to study, learn English, wanted to go for MBA, have a good job. My father told me he could spend 5 lakhs on my dowry but can’t afford my studies.’ She said all that looking at the road.
‘Then’, I asked with a curiosity in my voice.
Then the same story happened, I made a mistake, maybe the biggest mistake of my life. Fell in love with a wrong guy. He promised to support my studies in Delhi and get married to me. He was from a lower bihari caste. Deep down, I knew, my family would have killed me, if they happened to know about my affair. Moreover, nobody in my family loved me enough to give a second thought and I eloped with him to Delhi. But as it happens in more of our movies, he turned out to be an asshole, betrayed me, had fun for a few days and then sold me at a place, no girl would have ever wanted to be. And I am still at the same place with a better lifestyle since last 4 years.
Why didn’t you do any job?
Big joke! I didn’t know how to speak English, had no ideas about computers and had no money & no place to stay. Moreover, I accepted that place as my destiny which had already betrayed me enough, so could not have courage to challenge it one more time.
‘You could have gone back.’ I asked
to what? To witness my furious family and society who would have killed me in the very first sight? I knew being a third girl child; they had already hated me enough and moreover I liked this work. Less time, less work and a lot of money.
‘Are you happy?’ I asked looking at her.
‘I don’t know but I have money.’ Moreover I have left thinking about happiness. Certainly, this was not any of my dreams but for sure this is my real life. Live this day that’s all.
I wanted to ask more, talk to her about so many things other than her profession. Maybe, somewhere I could see a friend in that honest girl. But I could not.
Taxi came. She looked at me, said nothing, just a smile and got on. I also turned but then suddenly I shouted, ‘hey I didn’t even ask your name. I mean we can talk, if you want.’
‘No, I don’t think so, just remember me as a friend you would never like to meet again,’ she smiled and taxi soon disappeared on the smoggy roads.
I started walking towards my apartment thinking about what just happened. I could not understand why that girl was there that day. Was it one of the curses of our system, dowry, caste system, the prejudice against girl child? Or was it her boyfriend, her young age mistake? Why couldn’t she believe in her family? Why couldn’t her family give her a trust to go back? Is this the only profession left for a girl in a bad situation? Maybe, she had options but she chose this deliberately? Was she really happy? If she is happy in this profession, then is it wrong? How she must be feeling, selling herself for money?
So many questions and no answer!
I am here writing this piece on her and she would be selling herself once again. For what? Money? I doubt!!