May it be the story of every sex worker in India

By: Sourav

stories of sex workers in India, my real life short stories, prostitution in IndiaToday is 25th November. The world is celebrating the day as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The leading online magazines like Indiatoday.in and Firstpost.com have published articles, stories and interviews on the cases of violence against women in India as tokens of respect to the Day. Yesterday and even this morning, I thought of writing an article related to the rampant sexual and social crimes against women in our country. Though “pen is mightier than sword”, a piece of writing is far from being a solution to the problem. Despite so many initiatives undertaken by NGOs and the government, such social crimes as trafficking of women, rape of women and child prostitution still exist and remind us of our lack of consciousness, lack of social obligations, lack of mass efforts and lack of strict actions. This very thought (may be, negative according to a few) flipped my mind the next moment. So, I am sharing a story about three girls of a sex worker in Mahajantuli, a small red light area in Burdwan Town, from my life.

Those who have read I lost my Innocence the day I realized she is a prostitute”, a previous real life story of mine, know how I am connected to Burdwan Town and its Mahajantuli locality. I had better not repeat the same here. In Mahajantuli Para, there is a lady who used to give private tuition to the school-going children of the locality. She is a housewife. Still, we call her Didimoni (an affectionate way of addressing lady teachers in Bengali). The children of the sex workers of the locality, my maternal cousin brother Sonu and I were among her students. We used to read together. Didimoni never differentiated between the children of sex workers and us.

There were three daughters of a sex worker, in our batch. (I am not naming them here for the sake of their social security). We (Sonu and I) had made friends with them. We were all in class 2 or 3. We often visited their house and played together without telling maternal uncles and aunts. They were in the habit of buying and eating local toffees of red and black colors (spicy and tangy chutneys wrapped around flat wooden sticks, and covered with pieces of thin cellophane paper). At times, they brought some for us. We exchanged New Year greeting cards with them.

My maternal grandma (Nani) was good at making all kinds of pickles, to say mango pickle, radish pickle, carrot pickle, cauliflower pickle, green chilly pickle, garlic pickle and jackfruit pickle. A cupboard in the kitchen was dedicated only to the pickles made by Nani in all seasons of the year. In exchange of the chutney toffees from them, we used to steal pickles from the cupboard and give them. Whenever Moni masi planned to cook some delicacy for me, she sent the news to me via any of those three girls in the tuition. (You will find reference to Moni masi in the story “I lost my innocence the day I realized she is a prostitute”.) Those were the days of our innocence.

When a new academic session began, or a new teacher took his first class in our school, he asked all of us to introduce ourselves by saying our names, our fathers’ names, what they were, where our houses were, etc. I had undergone the ordeal of giving my paternal introduction hundred times in childhood. Today I have, to some extent, risen over the social system which one’s maternal identity held no value for in those times.

It is many times more difficult for the children of a sex worker to mention their paternal identity than it is for me. But, I had no understanding of their difficulty as I did not know the meaning of ‘prostitute’ or ‘prostitution’ in childhood. Following the above-mentioned practice of my school teachers, I asked those three girls about their father when I had met them first in Didimoni’s tuition. In response to me, they lowered their eyes and looked in abstraction out of the humiliation that I caused to them unwillingly. Despite our same age, they were more mature than me.

With the wheeling of time, we became teens. When we were in class 7, their mother built a small house at a distance of 5 kms away from Mahajantuli in order to keep them safe from the curse of prostitution. It reduced our friendly intimacy to some extent. I did not know cycling at that time. I learned it in class 8. It was not possible to walk all the distance or hire a rickshaw for up and down to their new house frequently. My maternal cousin brother Sonu had a bicycle. We visited them on school holidays if he felt like going out. They had a good collection of comic books in Bengali.

They stayed alone in their new house, and their mother kept up with the profession in Mahajantuli. She visited them once in two or three days. Besides schooling, they took lessons on knitting, stitching and singing. We took the school final examination in the year 1999. Then, I shifted to the hostel of Bharat Sebashram Sangha on the outskirts of Burdwan Town for the higher secondary education. It snapped my contact with them. Only the well-to-do people of the town had mobile phones in those times. I was not privileged to have the luxury (mobile phone was considered a luxury then).

Today, they are self-dependent ladies. They do jobs, earn their living and take care of their mother. They stay together in their new house away from Mahajantuli. They are proud of their mother who struggled a lot to keep them away from the kind of life that she has led. May it be the story of every sex worker and her children in India!

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