Sat, 04 Dec, 2021

What Would I Call Her? A Prostitute Or A Survivor?

By Nikita Gautam

I question sometimes how was I able to reach to this side. At present I cannot just interpret and write but have been able to control these many parts of my life. It all started in a brothel of Thamel where I was delivered along with my twin sister. Yes, indeed I never saw my father nor I knew his name. One could simply imagine me as a daughter taking the position of my mom. There have been many stories written and I fit in all of those narratives. I cannot claim that I was raised with good care for my mother was being exploited by other men. This was the only way she could bring food to us. We didn't get the attention children need when they are born and the pattern followed. My sister and I, we were each other’s strength. I don't fault my mom for this; I respect her for what she did to survive and who she is now. Our mother is our strength. Talking about my mom, she was a normal girl born in a small village, yet beautiful amongst all the woman who resided there. She says that she was a quiet and shy girl who never spoke to strangers. And then she was married to a man who loved her from his heart. They came to Kathmandu and started living here. The man whom my mother loved the most couldn't last for more than a year after their marriage. She said that a motorcar in the center of the street hit him and he was gone. She was far away from home and now no one was beside her. She had no idea where to go. Her house owner at the beginning showed kindness to her state of life, but it didn't last long. She had saved some money, hidden from her husband and she used it to support her living for a while, but money never lasts long. She was an innocent child only 17 years old, what could she do? It's always easy to run away, but the true courage resides when you are able to destroy every cruel situation that comes in front of you. Every day she tried to find a job, which could help her stand on her own feet, but she couldn't. The house owner every now and then quarreled for money and took belongings from her as a compensation for not paying rent.  The entire house in which she lived was empty for a week or so as the house owner's family had been on a trip except the owner himself. One evening she was cooking food and someone knocked on the door. She reached out to the door and found out the person to be her house owner and he entered her room, she greeted him as she thought he was there again for the installments. "Damn, I have to listen to him once again"…. She offered him a cup of tea, and he was very gentle to her this time. My mom was sitting in her bed while the other person in the chair and suddenly he stood up and sat beside her. She told me that she wondered what was he up to and felt awkward about the situation. He started talking to her and slowly grabbed her hand, saying, how sorry he feels about her situation. He then slowly started to get closer to her. He held her necklace and said that it was pretty, and then touched her thigh and said it was a beautiful “Kurtha” which she was wearing... She stood up shaking. She couldn't hold herself and shouted at the man. It was crystal clear that the man intended to do something wrong. Hearing her words as a young girl I thought, maybe he was unable to hold his emotions seeing a beautiful, young, smart widow girl residing in his house all alone for so long. But he was a monster; he raped my mom at that moment. My mom shouted and pleaded to the man to leave her, but he didn't. How would a woman who just lost her husband and gets raped by her house owner feel at that moment? From that day on, the man repeatedly raped my mother, sometimes on a daily basis. Now she could not do anything about it. Slowly now she became dependent on what she is receiving. She was a widow in a strange city with no oneelse to help her, to feed her, to let her live, except that man. As a compensation for her body, he let her live in his house, gave her food, shelter and all the basic needs that a human being requires to survive. She became a walking dead body who neither spoke, nor smiled. She was staring out of the window the one day when a woman who had come to meet the house owner saw her.  The woman spoke and my mom was staring at her like a statue. She was in her own world and had no idea what she was talking about as she was only staring at that woman's eyes. She barely knew her and didn't even talk to her once, but something was so magical about her. Was she a magician? My mother often wonders now when she talks about her. The next day she came and packed all my mother's belongings and took my mother with her. She couldn't understand what was going with her life. This strange woman took her to a strange place. She felt relieved as she thought that now she was away from that monster and could live her life on her own. No one could abuse her body now, she said to herself, but yet this innocent girl was unaware of what life was going to offer her next. She didn't know with whom she was going, where she was heading, she only followed the woman. Now that she arrived in this new world, her life was confined to a room. At the very beginning she didn't know what she would be asked to do. This woman was pictured as a goddess in her eyes as she kept my mom with good care and love. But the evil side of her revealed itself after 3 weeks, after my mom was living with her. This woman convinced my mom that she had nothing left in her life except to become a "prostitute". The woman in a way hypnotized my mother while she followed her gently. Every night she lay naked in her bed. Every night she offered herself to a new man. Her job was to make them happy for whatever the cost. They scratched her body, left her with pain, tortured her to death, but yet she covered herself with pain. Her life was miserable, but she had no one to share what she felt... Men offered double price to that woman to own my mother for a night.  She said in her life she discovered various categories of men. Some only came to talk; some tortured her wildly while some were calm as standing water. She said some men were so frustrated with their lives that they cried like a baby in her arms. She said that all her life she served different men fulfilling their desire and everyone left her room with full satisfaction, but they tore her soul. She shared these things when we were young and even not mature enough to understand all of the things that she had to go through. She always wanted to let us see the truth and never covered our eyes with the pleasant face of the world. She said, “The sooner you know how this world is, the better you will learn the lessons in life”. Talking about myself, my sister and I were raised with the truth.  Even though my mother served many men, we were lucky enough to serve none of them. My mother never wanted us to become a part of this society, but yet she never covered herself with lies, she told us everything. Her life was like an open book to us. She admitted us to a reputed school. Fulfilled our needs and taught us lessons about life from the very beginning. People think that having exposure to such society will make the person one of them. It was our mother, our teachings, our so-called “SANSKAR” that made us strong and independent and aware about the people and the surroundings where we belonged. People always think that I am taking my mother's side as a prostitute because she is my MOTHER. It's not always appropriate to judge a book by its cover. Yes, my mother slept with men, but for whom did she do this? What would an innocent 17 year old in a strange place would do to survive? It was this society that made her a prostitute. She wouldn't be a prostitute if the men belonging to this so-called civilized society didn’t abuse her. When men abused her, she was a princess and the moment their desires were fulfilled she turned into a prostitute. Does this make sense? No, it doesn't and it clearly shows the double standards in this society. What is the meaning of being a prostitute? If we were in my mother's place, would we be able to survive like her? Could anyone hold the pain that she held? The moment she knew that she had a baby living inside her belly, she could have thrown us away, but why didn't she? She gave birth, and she raised us with respect. Yes, she offered her body for rent, but she didn't offer ours. My mother, regardless of how people may perceive her, will always remain my inspiration.