Reminiscence of life

Not even in my dreams had I imagined myself sitting next to a sex worker watching her adjust dress, smell her loud, cheap perfume and listen to a female tongue that spits countless filthy words in Kannada (translation of those words which, I doubt anyone has ever dared to do.)

It was in the wee hours of a cool and rainy Saturday at Bangalore’s bus stand that a prostitute was just at one arm distance.

The First bus to Mangalore from Bangalore was at 5 am. I was rather too early at the Kempe Gowda Bus Stand (2 am) on that Saturday- the 11 of September. The bus stand was unusually empty that day- being a start of a long weekend and Ganesha Charuthi that day, there were hardly 50 to 60 people. Most of them were fast asleep, even without the tension of bus leaving while they were in dream land.

I made myself comfortable on one of the empty benches at the entrance of the Bus stand. The Hubli and Chitradurga bus conductors were shouting at the top of their voices, as if they were forcing even the no goers to board the bus. 7 buses left the station at a time making majestic even more deserted and resembling a haunted place.

A voice called me from behind - “want pleasure”. A woman in her late 20’s and early 30’s dressed in all glittering clothes with heavy make-up stood there. She repeated- “what kind of pleasure you want- Indian, Foreign?” Cold tremors ran in my spine! Without giving a second look at her I ran away. I neglected her call- “child where are you running.”

How dare she ask me! Do I look like a lecher to her, was the thoughts that ran in my mind. It took half-an-hour for me to come back to normal terms from that fear! (Why fear, I don’t know.)

In the mean while, she got a ‘customer’.

(Lets have a small break from the main story; as from my side there was nothing much happening and what was she doing - I cant write here!:)

Small information for you: Every night, three autos wait behind the KSRTC buses that are parked at the entrance of the bus stand.These autos’ wait for special customers’.

It is estimated that more than 50 sex workers are at the bus stand, most of whom work for the sake of food and life and others for the sake of loot and lavishing lifestyle. (Yes, there have been instances where ‘customers’ have been beaten up and are looted of their bounty! And the worst part of it is the police officials know about these incidents and as usual are doing noting. Tell me why would anyone put an axe to the extra income?)

All the above information I came to know from Raju, an auto driver at the bus stand. (Raju is a man about whom one can write a 500 word story, but the problem is he don’t want “publicity”.)

Let us come back to the main story. I was with Raju, who came back after dropping a passenger when she came back.

Adjusting her distorted make-up she walked towards us. Pointing finger at me, she said to Raju “is this child your friend anna.” Raju smiled and said “yes”.

Turning towards me he asked “Do you know Nalini (her real name)? Did you *****? ”

She busted into laughter. “He ran away when I asked him,” she said and left us in search of a new customer. I could see a snigger on the face of Raju, but could not help much from ignoring him. After few minutes he said, “she is a nice girl… situation turned her that way.” I did not respond to him, as the anger of calling me a “child” still ran high.

It was about 3 am when she came to Raju’s auto in which we were sitting. Raju and I were seated in the rear and she took the driver’s seat. I prepared myself to move but Raju held my hand asked to sit. “She won’t do anything to you… I am here.” Both of them had another round of laugh at that joke, which I really did not enjoy much!

''How do you know this child, anna” Nalini asked Raju. He replayed- “Sir, is a journalist- working with Deccan Herald. You know Prajavani … ya the English version of that.” (In my mind I said- thank god my Editor is not here else he would have committed suicide had he heard this “English version of his brother newspaper”.)

She had just one word answer- NO. “I know only police dairy, crime beat, Agni and Hai Bangalore. All of them have carried my photo on front page one or the other time,” she smiled, so did I.

“So you are a Journalist, sir,” she asked with a changed tone. From Child I was a sir now! I nodded. Never before had I felt so proud of being a Journalist as I felt then. Not just her tone there after her behavior, her sitting poster all started to change. The ‘Dupatta’ which was high at the neck slid down covering a small mole, scars made by cigarette stubbing and a good part of her cleavages which were visible because of her deep neck chudi. (Adjusting it she said, that was to attract men. I don’t think I need them now.) Later she added that the scars that were visible near the neck and chest were caused by cigarettes’ (there were some 6-7 such marks which I could notice in that area.)

There was a kind of uncomfortable silence for a while, before I broke it- “since when are you in this business?”

“Bussiness…ha. I am selling my body for past 13 to 14 years…” she answered with a false smile on her face.

“You call this business? We call it livelihood,” she stopped it there itself without explaining further. I felt ashamed of that wrong word- business (but, I did not know a better word). I asked sorry for that and she did not reply it with “its ok”, making me clear of what was in-store for the future discussion.

“Sir tell me one thing, why is that: what we do in darkness is a crime where as those rich girls who do it on the screen (to light action camera) an entertainment? Whose skin have you seen more, people like me or Malaika, Bipasha or those white skinned heroines of Hollywood, who are so eager to shed their clothes as if they are carrying a heavy burden on them? Why is that there’s called as professionals and ours as business?

My answer to that was a smile accepting defeat!

“Most of us working here do not wish to take our cloths off, but if we don’t our family and our own stomach won’t be filled,” she put a period to that conversation. Her question in one or the other way were pinning at my being the educated and learned man --- “when you have so much of knowledge about life then why don’t you work hard in some place ? Why this filthy life?”

“Who will give work to an illiterate, and the knowledge you are talking about is what I learnt from life not from books. A girl, aged 13, when asked to stand naked for Rs.200 by a hospital compounder has left with no future sir. Her life changes for ever after that,” she said. I think I saw a drop of tear in her eyes (though I am not sure as she had turned away from us.)

“What, I said” the loudest sound I had made after meeting her. “Yes,” was the only thing she said.

My journalist senses started striking at a higher speed (a child molestation case by a hospital staff was in-front of me. What more you want than this as a JOURNALIST???).

“Sir, my mother was very ill; the government doctor in Karnool asked my mother to get admitted in Bangalore’s big hospital, so my mother and I came here. The money which we brought for treatment got over within two hours after landing here. The Doctor, at St. John’s hospital, after testing my mother gave her a prescription. The chemist said that the medicine cost Rs150, sir this was in 1993, and we did not have a single rupee in hand. Sitting in a corner I was crying of hunger and not able to arrange for medicine, when an old man-aged around 60-65 came to me asked what the problem was? I narrated him everything, he took me into his arms as if to console. He asked me to come along with him and he will arrange money for medicines. He took me to an isolated room.

Sir he made a great deal – stand naked and I will give you Rs 300, twice what I actually needed then. Tears still rolled out from my eyes. Holding my hands tightly he shouted “make it fast else someone will come, then I will not give you money.” “Sir tell me what should I have done then,” she asked me. “Only two weeks back I had attained puberty.”

He was about to leave when I called him back. “I did what he asked me to do- stood there without a single piece of cloth on me. Shame had engulfed me.

“That budda’s meter was off,” she laughed. “He came to me touched my tiny cleavages, neck portion, waist, pressed hips and put finger in my groin .” I don’t know what pleasure he got (for me it was ticklish). He hugged me twice tried to take my boobs into his mouth, when he heard someone’s footsteps. He pulled five hundred rupee notes and placed it in my groin and ran away.

“I told my mother that I stole that money from someone." Sir, robbery is better than selling body- this truth was taught to me by life. "My Mother slapped me, cried but knew that we had no other option. Doctor asked us to come after 6 weeks and said that if she takes medicines properly there was nothing to worry.

“Sir, if life decides to take one in a direction, you can not do much. The money we had was enough for only one to go home. My mother was in deep sleep after taking medicine.

I begged the conductor to take both of us and I will pay him once we reach home. He did not agree. Without shame I even asked him if he wish to see me naked and allow me to travel home.” The conductor placed a tight slap on my chin and threw me out of bus.

The bus left. I was in this same bus stand crying, when Suresh, my agent or adopted elder brother took me to a slum.

“I knew only one thing I needed money to go home and I knew how I can earn.” I went back to St. John’s hospital in search of that old man- I didn’t know his name or his post. I searched the entire hospital but could not find him.

Suresh told me where to stand to get ‘customer’. “My first customer offered me Rs 250. I said yes as that was enough for me to go home.” He took me to a cheap hotel nearby railway station. Before he could say anything I stood in-front of him naked, thinking that he would just touch me everywhere, try to take my breast into his mouth, press my hip more times and leave me. But, there, he was not alone; along with him there were four more people. And this time they were not in a mood to touch me but to …. (words stopped in her mouth. And this time I could really make-out that she was crying, her voice was low, the dupatta went regularly to eyes to wipe out the tears.)

Sir, like dogs they bite me everywhere, they rubbed me, one went inside me from the front while other from behind. My mouth was stuffed with two men’s genitals while the fifth guy was beating me every where he can lay his hand, making my white skin red.

I was left behind in a bleeding and unconscious condition. Even without paying the promised Rs 250. Police was called by the hotel manager. They took me to government hospital. For four days I could not get up from bed.

I was in the police list now. They had demanded Rs 5000 from Suresh for my release. After great deal of assurance from him and another elder man the police officials let me out (after pocketing Rs 3000) and even the hospital bill due was Rs 750. Sir, I had to pay all of that, and the most shocking news came after two weeks. I missed my first menstrual cycle.

“There are so many girls here who have missed their first cycle.” “Sir, when your wife or sister become mother you and she would celebrate but when I became pregnant everyone around me cried. Suresh took me to a quack and removed it. Even I didn’t know whose child it was!”

It was 3 AM when she started to travel back into her life and when she stopped at this point it was 4.10AM. My bus from Tirupathi came, Raju as usual informed the conductor to reserve a special seat (ya that’s for me).

I kept my bag on the seat and came back to auto. She was still there. Eyes wet, face with a watermark after tears ran on that heavily powdered face. She looked at me and smiled, I returned the same.

She was good looking. Fair skin, well maintained figure, boobs big enough to attract lechers like us and a smile that could have made any men fall prey for her beauty.

“Because of me you might have lost earnings today,” I said. She replayed, “not a problem sir, I can earn that whenever I want, but I may not be able to share thing like this again and again.”

Looking at her Tali, I asked her, you married? Your husband is ok with it? She said, “No I am not. This is for safety. When police raid, I can show them that it is couple and not business.” But it is of no use as most of the police officials who come for raid know me and a few of them have even slept with me in their police jeep, she giggles.

She has visited quack six times to get aborted, and she desires to have a son and didn’t say the reasons as to why she is not having.

I was curious to know how much she earned every month- she told me that she earn anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 on regular seasons and the amount would cross 40,000 in the month of Ashada, when newly married couples maintain abstinence.

After all deduction – that is mamul to police, her body guard and fancy cloths, makeup and medicine, every month she saves Rs 2000

And how much she charges each men? – It depends on the number of people. For one it’s anywhere between Rs 300 to Rs 500. And more than one you multiply it with Rs 500. My childhood mistake has taught me a lesson sir, so to be on safer side I have gang of people who will follow me everywhere. Now I can satisfy 5 to 6 people easily, without being hospitalized, she laughs.

Finally going into her world- the Kempe Gowda Bus stand, she said, for everyone its Rs 500, but for you tonight its free, “want pleasure” she laughed. This time too I ran, not fearing her but to catch bus.

Sitting in the special seat I recalled, my IIJNM’s batch mate - Jothi Sharma’s documentary about child prostitutes in Bangalore (watch her documentary here), where young girls were raped in men’s toilet, police station and every places possible and forced into the flesh trade. A girl was made to run naked in the whole city by a group of boys.

Imagine: A honeymoon room. Only a 12 volt CFL tube light is lit in a highly decorated lampshade. In a traditional ways the bed is decorated with the petals of roses and jasmines. To the right of the bed all the seasonal fruits are placed in a silver plate. A bunch of lighted Agarbathi’s are placed in a corner, the scent of which has already covered the entire room.

The bride has already entered the room and is briskly walking up and down clutching her hands in anxiety! The door slowly opens, making that irritating but yet “romantic” sound. Groom decorated in all white with a glass of milk in hand and with kilos of shyness in eyes and lips is pushed into the room by the fellow men who accomplished him.

The groom hesitates to walk towards the decorated cot. The Bride with all her pomp nears him. The man bends, touches her feet. Holding the shoulders of the man she straightens him. He takes his Tali that was hung on his broad chest and presses it against his eyes. The lady cups his cleanly shaven face into her palms and kisses. The lights go off and scene is cut!

Scene next Hospital Nine months latter: The lady is on the delivery bed and her man is on the bed next to her. Four nurses are holding his legs and hand. He is having a sever labor pain!

Now stop imagining and come to reality!

The honeymoon setting was one of the scenes from the Telugu Movie “Jamba Lakidi Pamba”(1993). The theme of the film is as crazy as the title is. This out of the box film directed by E.V.V Satyanarayana has two thing to prove, 1. Why the nature has designed and set certain typical characters to men and women and the other most important point, the need for equality of men and women in the society.

At no point of time in this 3 hour 12 mins movie you find any logic (who cares for logic when one cannot hold their stomach from bursting out of laugh. The movie is an out and out comedy) and yet the film enlightens us about one of the most important lessons of every day life- the suffering of women in the hands of their husband, son, in-laws and men in general.

The storyline

Aamani, the heroin of the movie, hates the atrocity and suppression meant on the women by men. A “pink” paper flies from nowhere and crashes on the face of her every time she encounters a man committing a “crime on woman.” The pink page directs Aamani to a cave near Vishakapatanam, a port city in Andra Pradesh, where a sadhvi after years of meditation and experiment has invented a solution—Jamba Lakidi Pamba—that would change the rule of the nature. Men would act as women and vis-a- vis.

The lead lady of the film mixes that Jamba Lakidi Pamba in the water tank and that causes all the changes.

Men are “forced” into the kitchen. Women work in garages and field. If Men are interested in drawing rangoli in their house front yard, women are busy in gambling. All the typical things that men are associated with are done by women, like asking dowry, burning of ‘son-in-law’, Adam teasing, rape … so on so forth. And the most important of all is—during pregnancy—if a woman delivers a child the pain is borne by men!

The film takes a great twist when the Hero (Naresh) and Heroin comes to know that the original solution was adulterated with another solution by the student of that Sadhvi, which meant that the affects of Jamba Lakidi Pamba stays only for one month.

After the first month, the adults would become children and vis-a vis. This condition stays for 1 day. Next change is conversion of body organs- that is men will have all the secret organs of woman and woman will have mustache, for the next one hour. Within that period if the affected people are not given the anti Jamba lakidi Pamba : PambO lakidi JambO, All men would remain as woman forever and vis-à-vis. But this is a film and has to end in a happy note- The hero and heroin fights hard with the villains and correct the ‘mistake’ done by Jamba Lakidi Pamba.

By now most of the feminists’, reading this article, would have desired that the effects of Jamba Lakidi pamba to be permanent on this world. Forgetting that “with every power gained people (Men or women) tend to misuse them rather than putting that to good use. The need of the hour is not interchange of the power but equilibrium of sexes.

“In every adversary, a spectrum of human faces appears,” I had read this line somewhere (Not able to recall where), but yesterday I experienced it.
What I narrate below may seem like a stunt from a melodrama film, but every thing recorded is raw fact.

On a hot afternoon of Feb 06- 2010, I was at the ‘Maruthi circle’ bus stop near Srinagar in Bangalore, waiting for the BMTC bus for Residency road to cover Governor’s inauguration event. I was questioning myself and trying to figure out what answers the governor would say so that I can counter argue him. (Only if I get a chance to talk to him!!!)

The time in my mobile showed 2.45 pm and the program was at 4. I had enough time to reach St. Joseph College, which was the venue for the program.

After coming to Bangalore, I have this one good/bad habit of listen to the FM’s while traveling in the bus. On that day also, I plugged in my headphones in ear so loud that even a shout from the next person could not have got a response from me.
Around 3PM, a boy aged about 17 to 20, black like a burnt coal with yellowed tooth and stinking shirt, came to me. Without saying anything he dragged my headphone down. I was all shocked. I asked him what the matter was, but that fellow had no politeness to answer me. His lips started to fire those kannada words which I had never heard in my life. That abusive language, in which I am so poor, turned into punches within few seconds.

He gave three punches on my nose region and abused me even more. Some how my mobile, which was screaming Hindi songs all the while came out of the jeans pocket. By the same time, another person joined the first man and started hitting me on the face- I was totally shocked to understand what was happening to me. I did not even make a hue or a cry. I stood there like a ‘punching bag’ and they where ‘practicing’ on me.

I was determined not give my mobile at any cost. Though both of them were hitting me, I still hung to mobile. But my fight could not last long. From back, the third moron took a razor and stroked it on my back. The 7 CM long wound started to bleed and the mobile that I purchased with my first salary was in those thieves hand.

Even the shirt that I gifted my self with my first salary was torn and had 20 mm of my O(+) blood. With one stroke of a blade, I lost two things that I had purchased with my hard earnings. That shirt was really good! (Finally that was used to clean the coffee that I spilt at the police station. Rs. 800 shirt was used to clean coffee!!!)

First face

While all this drama was unraveling itself in broad day light amidst hundreds of people stagnant at the bus stop, no one came to help me in the ‘battle’. All were watching as if this was one scene just to be seen, not to act.

Even I did a mistake- I did not shout or made an effort to get help by crying or fighting (I don’t wish you to have the same experience, but if you are in this situation please shout, that may bring some help.)

The best answer I got after all that fight and injured back was from a goldsmith in-front of whose shop this incident happened. “We thought that they were your friend and you where having a small trifle.” I don’t know what answer to give him! Some one is hurting another person with a razor and u consider him to be that guy’s friend! (Let it be. I won’t blame him for that).

Second face

Blood was coming out as the flood gates of a river are opened in monsoon- unstoppable. Every one gathered there were busy in asking me what happened though every one of them had enjoyed the show.

But there was one human amidst of those audience- Rajesh G., Agency manager, Bharti AXA life insurance Company Ltd. Whose first words to me was “cover the wound with cotton, its bleeding heavily.” Every one by then started to search for cotton. Rajesh offered me his car to drop me at the hospital. I apologise to him as his well maintained front seat had to bare my blood stains.

In the hospital, I was told to get four stitches. Rajesh stood their and bought all the medicines that was needed at that time. He did not even collect money from me. I owe him a lot!

And the most enjoyable part at the hospital was when the fourth stitch was stitched without administering local anesthesia. The pain!, better not to tell.

At the police station

After coming to Bangalore, it has been a common thing for me to visit a police station for various reasons (and not a single time I was wrong). First thing the police constable R Raju asked me was, Do you have a love affair, or any fight with any one?

I felt as if I was in a better situation when I was with the thieves than now. My no answers convinced him that I was a innocent common man without any kind of “lafda”.
Next SI Shekar of Hanumanth Nagar police station who came to interrogate me. His questions were good- “Did you write anything against anybody that has caused for an attack?. After joining DH, I have written only two articles. Both against the Ministry of Fisheries, but I don’t think Anand Asnotkar has so much time to bother about those two articles and send men for me!

Every thing with the police was “settled”. All their questions were answered.

By 4 pm one of those bastards had started using my cell. Thanks for this advance technology that my cell has- ‘mobile tracker’ that I could find with whom my cell was. His number is 9900566665.

Let us wait and see, how many days the police need to trace out a mobile with all the required info with them, and the pressure that a Journalist mobile is at LARGE!!!

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Has not excavated fully. There are half baked feelings, desires and ambitions. But a heart to complete and compel.

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