Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Beginning of the End?
“And here it starts.”
It was my first time at a red light area. I did not really know what to expect. For a brief moment I was blinded. Blinded by the look of dingy alleys and the smell of a concoction of sweat and cheap perfume. It was early evening and the lane had just started filling up. I spotted about a dozen of women wearing clothes which clung onto their bodies unnecessarily. The excess powder on their round faces had already started wearing off due to the humid weather. I saw a boy who rather casually went inside one of the buildings with a young girl by his side. I felt my fingers clench as a sudden stiffness caught hold of my entire body like an epileptic fit. The children roamed around in the streets, their bodies filled with dirt and their feet sore. I was shocked to find a young boy of seven uttering profanities just like a priest chanting mantras in a temple. There was water flowing all over the place which made me recollect the supposedly simple fact that every young girl in the area was supposed to follow her mother’s footsteps and had to undergo training for it, where such huge amounts of water found its purpose. The buildings were dilapidated and structured in a strange fashion. Every house was connected to the other in some extremely clandestine and dangerous manner. I went inside such a building with a little kid who most graciously agreed to guide me. I found broken bottle of inexpensive liquor, drunken men strewing the unclean floors while the rest of the tenants were smoking ‘bidis’ as their ‘gharwali’ continued with her household chores. I finally reached the terrace and after panting heavily for a few moments, I looked up at the sky. It somehow appeared condescending, as if it were looking down on the people of this place. The other multi- storied buildings were visible but were located far away from my present location. Somehow it alluded me to a more meaningful metaphor, because at the end of it all these buildings are representative of people like us who never really bother about taking a closer look at such sensitive issues.
Yesterday was different. A little darker may be. I loved the children. Some of their names are written in my notebook. I will always remember them. I hope they remember me too. I hope I was not just another stranger in their lives with a desperate attempt to sympathize with them.