Sleep. There's something so calming and innocent about sleep; the comfort of your bed, the warmth of your blanket, the knowing depth of your pillow. Don’t they make you feel protected? Sanctified? Yes? That same bed holds no charms for me. It’s a prison for me, rotten and ugly. But it keeps me fed, so I can never escape. I am what you, today, would call an escort, but why mince the words, I am what I am, a vendable prostitute.
I am not here expecting you to empathise with me or any of my sisters. No. You’d lack the imagination because we come from two completely different words, barely aware of each other, you and I. You live in a place where you get to try, and if it’s enough, you could be anyone you wanted to be. I'm not here to judge and complain and nag. No. I just believe you could use a story from the other side.
Where do I begin?
I was fifteen when my mother decided that she'd had enough of my dad. One day she decided to just pack up and leave without giving us a hint of where she was headed. For a while it was just me, my dad and my brother. Things were going bad until my dad married another woman, then they got worse. Our stepmother did not have any income to help support the household or pay for our education, so we had to drop out of school. The conditions were getting unbearable, but the final string was cut when my father passed away two years after the marriage. Seeing that there was nothing left for me in that house, I decided to follow my mother's footsteps and ventured into the world, alone and afraid.
I had no idea what I was going to do. It's really easy for an eighteen year old to get lost in the maze that is the real world. Never before had I felt so vulnerable and lonely. Before leaving, I had managed to get my hands on a little money so for the first few days I checked into a cheap hotel. With the money running out, I needed to find a source of income so I started working part time at local cafes. With the money from those jobs, I was barely supporting myself. Coincidentally, a friend of mine from work said she knew a guy that could get me a well paying job. Things sounded sketchy from the go, but I chose to not be picky.
I was told to meet the guy in the evening at a restaurant he owned. I went there and was taken to his office. The restaurant was a nightclub and the office his darker den. He seemed okay at first. We talked for a bit, and touching my elbow he asked me about my situation. I told him I needed a job desperately, as it was getting harder to even make enough to eat.
At twenty-something your lives are just starting. At twenty-something, I feel like mine has already ended. Yes, it has been like my own version of hell. Slept. Awoke. Slept. Awoke. Miserable life. After a while, I started to lose all sensations. I don't feel a thing now. I lie there, day in, day out, exhausted, and every time I have a customer, I drift off into my imagination. Or at least I always try to even with all the grunting, but its difficult to just tune out when you have a sweaty, greasy man crushing you from top. I know that its graphic, and that there are people who refuse to see prostitution as a crime. We get paid so we should stop complaining, right? Maybe you should think about that the next time your boss busts your balls. Sorry. But no one tells you anything about all of what we face. Once in this business, we are a social outcast. People stop treating us like a person and start seeing us as a plaything. A toy they can own for an hour. Theirs to bend or break or do whatever the hell they want to. But we can’t complain, to you, or to the police, because you insist that we are the criminals. Ever seen a child hang around while their mother take care of ‘business’? Ever seen that child grow up and continue to take care of the business? This is no way to live. But years in the business and this is what my life has come to. Slept. Awoke. Slept. Awoke. Miserable life. This is just one story. Pull yourself and go to the nearest market where they sell skin, I am sure you’ll find many; listen to a few, some you’ll see are more gruesome and heart-breaking than the others, but none, I assure you, will have a happy ending except for the customer’s.
Sketch By: Kunal Kumar