A dash of kohl darkens her eyes,
She paints her lips blood red.
Every time, a little part of her dies
As she welcomes another man to her bed.
Such a strange society, she thinks.
To accept the man, they don't mind
Even though he abuses, beats, drinks
To her pains alone, they are blind.
And yet such hypocrisy!
They invite her to bless weddings
For she is auspicious;
The eternally wedded one,
Who will never suffer
The indignities of widowhood.
But apart from that, the man on the street
Will condemn her, scorn her, during the day
While stealthily planning to visit her
In the safety of the night.
She cries at her helpless state
Knowing that the body will soon decay
Then what would be her fate?
The madam outside asks her to shush
The next one will soon arrive.
She adjusts the bangles on her wrist,
Paints her mouth again
Uses the kohl to hide the tears in her eyes
And goes back to a life of lies.
I wrote this after reading a book titled Journeys in the Night:Untold Stories from India's Best Known Writers, a poignant collection of essays written on AIDS in India. As I read more about how sex workers are so vulnerable to the disease, I learnt about how they are easily exploited, forced into the trade for lack of a choice. Kiran Desai's essay 'Night Claims the Godavari' spoke out to me, in particular. Here's something from the essay that is worth pondering over:
"I think of the sadness and defeat inherent in feminism, the humiliation of waving a banner: 'Well, I believe women should earn as much as men, and men should also help with housework etc etc...' when men from Oslo to Rajahmundry, are walking out of the back door, in fact, out of the front door, to seek out girls sold for less than the cost of a bottle of beer."
P.S: I haven't been blogging in ages! I'm hoping to be more regular here now.