Brothel an undercover and illicit space having forbidden fruit attracted me the most. The curiosity to see the space always pinched. But I never had guts to face the nip of the reality. I needed someone to take me there. There was another probability of me running away at the very sight of it. Inherent fear!
One fine evening an acquaintance called and told me about my senior who is working in red light area of Delhi. She needed people to join her in the venture. Her project is to educate children who are in the periphery of our “civilized” society. She named her adventure “The story of puppets”. I am not sure what does she means by the puppets and who are the puppets. The whores in the brothel or their children are definitely not the puppets dancing to the alien tone. Yes! May be we all are who have a baggage of value system and civility which ensures that we don’t cross the “Lakshman Rekha”. In one of my old stories I referred to a prostitute but that was long -long back. I was a teenager governed by the norms at home. And she was a woman who needs to be hated for what she chose as vocation.
I had never met the senior, always read her thoughts or heard about her. One of her statement aroused me the most. She desired to work with hijras (Transgenders) and somebody asked her why, her view was simple- they are the ones who don’t hide their desires, frustrations and emotions under the veil of strength. This was something unheard-hijras- they are a stock to be laughed at. I am not sure whether I am articulating well. Whatever is coming to the mind is being scribbled with the whole body at the peak of anxious state. The words are passing through that sieve of unrest.
The unrest of desire to see the place and to meet the one who is looking at the world from a different prism took me to GB road. The roads were empty because of nation-wide protest called against recent price hike. I was given the address but was told that it will be better if I join instead of being audacious to find my way out. When I was moving around the road, there were women who didn’t needed veil; they were dressed the way they chose to. Many may say it is an imposed norm of patriarchy others may prefer to celebrate it as independence. My mind was on the neither side of the fence. I was walking down with a heart full of fear, two ladies showing me the way.
The building I was entering had steep stairs, walls painted red because of betel leaf consumption. Few women yelling, others were sitting calmly in front of the door in a row waiting for their customers. The children moving around, the appearance of my senior brought smile on the faces of many present there. “Madam” has come with her friends to teach. Mukesh was there, Taniya was rebelling. Taniya she wants the story to be read to her but she has no desire in taking up the pen to write. Suhail was excited to learn Hindi.
There was “no one Hindu no one Muslim” there. Ages ago Nanak said this after coming out of the stream. His cult took a shape of another institutionalized faith. But here in this space. There were the verses of Quran hanged with the pictures of Hindu Gods highlighting the beliefs of tenants who are sharing the space irrespective of their beliefs. Their bonding was far stronger. For them Muslims were not terrorists and Hindus rioters. The women were heading the family as they were the sole bread earners. Was Engels not talking about something similar when he was writing about progressive, egalitarian primitive communism?
I was talking about children. All of them had an aspiration to learn. Their desire to be educated was very strong. I remember how much I hated to study and here were those who were never given the choice. The only Municipal School was shut down in the locality as nobody was interested to teach the children. On my way I met a child who was admitted in high profile school. His father is whorehouse owner. I was wondering when the teachers at times out of ignorance or may be curiosity ask him about the profession of his father, what would have been his response. Was it digestible? There is a possibility of the teacher feeling either petty or may be start avoiding the very glance of it.
I am not a very good teacher, but the excitement of these children helped me to be a part of their process. They were laughing, mocking, asking questions. They wanted to know the Hindi meaning of Strawberry for which I had no response. Some were learning divisions others going with the basic alphabets of Devanagari. There were those children who were seeking attention and those who were in the corner learning slowly-slowly. Their desire to mingle was so profound that all the barriers shattered. The idea of running within a sight of it seems to be too far. After spending two hours I left with a light heart. It was as if some burden has been lifted off my shoulders. By crossing the boundaries of a puppet belief system I got split in thousand million particles. Desire was not to be suppressed and the vocation of flesh trade became merely another profession. There was joy that I covered the forbidden mile whether I was guided by someone. I am not a puppet anymore. And I hope you’re also not the one. Let’s weave another fabric which is not governed by morality or ethics.
Once I made a derogatory statement that why to lay on bed throughout, only prostitute (negative connotation) is the one who earn that way. I apologize and surrender that I don’t believe in it anymore.