The black-and-yellow cab halts at the busy traffic at Marine Drive as the driver lits a biddi and adjust its rear window. A sense of anxiety and guilty pangs flew, like the thick pollution and putrid smells reeking in the slums surrounding the city. As the cab whooshed past the sky-rocketed buildings in the city, Prabha adjust her hair and applies mascara and lipstick on her lip, wondering how the filthy rich in the city live in such opulence as they flung money as if they are throwing cigarette butts. “Everything is on sale here. One just need to put a price, whether food or human flesh, there is no contrast between the two in what they call with great pride, maximum city,” she thought.
“Abe music lagao (put the music louder),” Prabha almost ordered to the cab driver in her coarse voice. “Waise, I won’t get time when I reach the heavenly abode infested with the bunch of mother fuckers lining up for ‘dhanda’ as if I am some commodity on sale in the market. The driver sports a hesitant smile and put on the radio where the night show, ‘Raat ke humsafar’ was aired on radio mirchi for the night owls. She lit a cigarette, thinking about her five-year-old who is oblivious, of the where about of her mother and not totally clueless about the shady business, in the dark alley at Lane 256 in Kamathipura at Grant Road where several male visitors forcefully drag her mom inside the dingy room.
The cab dashes inside Kamathipura, the sex haven, frequented by local MLA, thugs, students, menial workers and office goers, alike, in the bustling city of Mumbai. The sex bazaar housed in the heart of Mumbai, yet it seems so far removed and lost in translation, as the car disappears in the galli, surrounded by pimps smoking cigarette and sipping tea at the tapdi, scouting for customers. It’s a labyrinth of sort as one enters the market place where modestly built 2 by 4 houses and match-box sized chawls stood tall. An outsider will lose its way, skittering in the galli, infested by pimps, drunk youth, waif, rag pickers and small thugs, reeking of cheap desi daaru as one would often hear and see petty squabble.
It’s 11 p.m. The prostitutes are paraded, wearing cheap sarees, faces smeared with rough mascara and protruding red lips as a bevy customers, whose mouths stinking with pans and beedi loiter inside the wooden house. The skinny pimp gazes at the sex-starved customers and a skinny fellow nods for number three, signalling Prabha to move towards the cramped white coated room inside. She waddles and mutters a cuss words, “Chalo” as she guides the little fellow, her customer for the night, inside the room.
As she mulls over her life and how she escaped a battered husband, looking for menial jobs as laborer, domestic help and ended in the dance bars, sprouting in the city where she was making 10,000 bucks monthly. Tragedy struck one day when the Government ordered the closure of the dance bars and after almost starving to death, she landed at Kamathipura. She was repeated raped inside the dingy room, often serving the filthy rich politicians and businessmen in their guest houses. She made good money. Her daughter, Guddiya, born out of wedlock is her only hope in this ruthless world where her pound of flesh is served raw to customers who devour her body and rip her soul apart. As she lay on bed, tears rolls down her cheek, “My dream is to see Guddiya break away from this shackle of sin which is consuming me every day and she will become a doctor one day to take me away from this world. My frazzled body will not let Guddiya experience this bad world which is tearing me apart every single day where I long for death.”
Guddiya is perched on the stair case, her head buried in her cheap Hindi books, reading the stories and twirling with a pencil in her hand and often wonder at the visit of the men, who climbs in front of her. She exudes a sadness on her face when she hears the constant whimpering and moaning as Prabha makes a rising shrill in her voice, a cry of despair.
Prabha serves countless customers, swigging alcohol in the small room, the kind ones leaves her an extra tip that she carefully hides insides her Pallu, to surprise little Guddiya with a cheap doll and a scoop of ice cream that will brings an innocent but radiant smile on the face of her child. The local politician and real estate agent, with a protruded belly walked inside the luxurious room equipped with a mini bar, reserved for VIPs, and a long flat bed, red sofa and table. It’s the only large room in the chawl at lane no.206 adorned with the luxury of the world. Today, Seth-ji is in a jovial mood and has asked for someone to keep him company throughout the night, the girls indulges into tittle-tattle. There are whispers flowing in Kamatipura that Seth-ji will get ticket for the next assembly election in Maharashtra and the girls are longing to serve him.
To be continued….
This is a work of fiction and the characters bears no ressemblance to any person living or dead and hence, the narrator cannot be taken to task since the means doesn’t justify the end. The author believes that he never justifies his characters on account of morality or otherwise.