Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Orphans and the Whorehouse

It was only around ten in the morning, and there was a strong knock on the door. It was surprising, because the knocks were usually rare, mostly at night, and always feeble. They either sneaked in or just waited there to be summoned. Even the post-man or the milk-man preferred to come in unseen to the world.

Aunty walked out slowly to check who the customer was and how desperate he was.
Turned out there was a group of five, mostly young men. She had seen their group, the youth wing or something who apparently did good for the society. Maybe they want to try to throw her and her whorehouse out of the village, like their predecessors tried. Let them keep trying.

She walked out and stood there with her hands on her hip, squinting at them.
One of the younger men (the leader by the way he carried himself), spoke to no one in general, facing the house, “Namasthey Ma’ji. We need no introduction. You and your girls are also the beneficiaries of our good work. We believe in an all-inclusive society”.

He beamed with pride, while his flunkies clapped without much enthusiasm.

“As you know, we have now adopted the Girls Orphanage and are raising funds for running the school and the hostel. You can also donate books, clothes, food, or whatever you can for the well-being of the girls so that they grow up to become strong, independent women and not go astray!”

She took her time to take-in where he was getting to. It was very rare that someone addressed her as “Ma’ji”.

When he said no more, she slowly spat the pan and said coarsely, “So, you want my whorehouse to contribute to keep girls from going astray?”

“Yes, yes!”, the leader smiled.

“Business is dull. We have no money for food. We’ve never seen any youth wing come this way to adopt us from going astray, let alone feed us.”

The youngsters kept shifting their weight from leg to leg. Otherwise, no one moved. Probably hoping to catch a glimpse of her girls, whom she had strictly forbidden from coming out in the presence of strangers.

“Would you have books?” the fool was persistent. 

“What would we have to do with books?”

“Even old clothes would do” he had no intention of leaving.

 “Let me ask the girls” she gave up.

The girls were more than happy to part with their old clothes. It was their first experience of giving back to a society which rarely accepted anything from them, except for their warmth at nights. For once, they had a chance to give. And it felt good.

Over the next two days, they opened old trunks and pulled out clothes they had outgrown or grown tired of – torn ones were sewn up, some were given a make-over and a few girls were enough benevolent enough to give away a few new ones gifted by their part-time lovers.

When the youth wing came to collect the clothes, they were surprised. There were far more bundles than they had anticipated, all neatly arranged.


Donated clothes were usually dumped into the hall, at the orphanage. No one checked what the clothes were or how they were. They may have been dirty, torn, or simply unusable. But the management had better things to do than sort old clothes for a bunch of unwanted children. When the doors to the hall opened, the girls simply ran in and grabbed whatever they could. That was how it was done. It was a game of survival. And the mightier always won. 

But this time, the girls took their time to admire the treasure that came their way. Apart from the regular blouses and skirts, there were silky gowns, lacey bodices, transparent underskirts, revealing dresses, and a lot raunchier clothes.

They were shy to look. They were ashamed to touch them. They felt guilty for wanting them, even though they were so beautiful.

What if my friend saw me take it?

What will they think of me?

I will look like the vamp in the movies with all that glitter on me.

I am a good girl. How can I wear these?

But, it only took a few minutes for the mob mentality to set in. As soon as the first girl grabbed and ran, all chaos broke loose. Every girl soon wanted the shortest skirt, or the skimpiest dress.

Every girl went to bed that night with a dress clutched to her chest. They couldn’t wear it. But they didn’t want it stolen either. It was unlike all the dresses they had ever had. And each of them went to sleep with a smile on their face.

However, there was a problem.

They couldn’t wear the clothes in daylight or at night. The warden would definitely slap them for not reporting the clothes, let alone wearing them. Until, one day a girl came up with the perfect solution. She wore them underneath. And topped it off with her regular wear. That way, she could wear the clothes, and not worry of them being stolen, nor caught. It was brilliant!

Soon, all the girls were wearing the whores’ clothes underneath. The clothes made them feel beautiful and confident. They magically turned them into women at night. They imagined themselves to be heroines from the movies, who danced at the drop of a hat. They blushed at how their lovers would love to see them in those clothes, and fall head over heels in love with them. They wondered how they ever lived, before having those dresses. How were they even happy!

Every now and then, the laces from the bodices peeped out from their blouses, which they managed to tuck back in time. Until that one time, when the warden noticed.
The girl was stripped, to the horror of the onlookers. There she stood – the puny little girl, with the over-sized red lacey gown not so cleverly hidden under her white school uniform shirt.

The warden ordered a strip-search. Which was soon followed by a search and seizure. The girls tried hiding the clothes in vegetable baskets in the kitchen, the dump-bins, and some even threw them over the compound wall hoping to retrieve them later when they were allowed on their weekly outing. A lucky few got away when they got innovative – hiding them into tiffin boxes or in between library books.

The warden was amazed at the loot. She ordered the clothes be dumped into the courtyard and doused with kerosene. And all the girls were assembled. They were to watch as the beautiful pieces were lit on fire. The girls wailed as if it were their parents’ funeral pyres.

The warden summoned the Youth Wing. She had kept the red gown as evidence, to show the leaders. When presented with the evidence, the leaders handled it gently, as if the gown would break, some passed their fingers over the material, some held on to it without passing it over, and some even sniffed at it. At the end of the discussion, the decision was unanimous. The whorehouse had corrupted the minds of the young girls, beyond repair. And they deserved to be punished.

The warden vowed to be more diligent in the future. After all the girls were her children. She was devout to keep them safe from the evils of the world.

That night, she went to bed with a smile on her face. The gown fit her better.


There were multiple knocks on the door this time. Strong and demanding to be heard.
The group was larger. It had the fool from the Youth Wing, most of the self-appointed village leaders, old men, children and a few women as well. The warden stood along with a few of her orphan girls who held a banner which read:

“Throw them out,
They tainted our minds”.

She knew this was trouble, but she couldn’t hide the sarcasm, “We don’t have any more clothes to donate. My girls too need clothes, at least until it gets dark.”

“If you don’t leave the village by night, we will ensure you don’t need any”, sneered some voices from the mob.

“But, why should we leave?”

“She’ll tell you why”, screamed the warden nudging one of the girls. 

The girl was still sad that she lost her lacy gown. But she knew this was her opportunity to make up for her grave mistake and get back on the good books of the warden. That meant she could be on the list of those lucky girls, who got to take turns to massage the warden’s feet, sitting under the fan and watching TV.

“Tell her beta. Don’t be scared”, the youth wing leader encouraged.

The girl stepped forward, straightened her collar, folded her arms and parroted away what she had taken hours to byheart,

“Because your clothes take girls away from the path of righteousness.

Because your clothes bring dishonorable feelings that should never occur to women of grace. 
Because your clothes make men immoral and salacious.
Because your clothes make the society lewd and filthy.”

The leader beamed with more pride, and his flunkies clapped more enthusiastically this time.

“Enough of this thamasha! You came to my doorstep and begged for my clothes. If you don’t want them, throw them away. How dare you insult me like this?”, Aunty was losing her patience.

“We don’t want your clothes, nor you and nor your filthy girls”

“Are you trying to recruit?”

“Why don’t you all die? This village needs cleansing”

It was late night when Aunty and her girls finally left the house. They didn’t have much to pack. They didn’t own much, except for temporary lovers. The mob had turned violent. A brick brushed her forehead, leaving a gaping wound. One of the villagers even tried to undress her. Her girls had to rush out and beg to the village leaders for mercy. They were given time until dusk to move out.

Clients who didn’t know came knocking until late. She turned them away and many left with heavy hearts. Some men broke down saying they could cry only there. Some vowed revenge. Some claimed they will ensure this temple of love remained.


She set up her new place not so far away. Business went on as usual. After all, where were beautiful women not well received?

And one night, well after the wee-hours, there was a feeble knock.

She was shocked to see the youth wing leader and his flunkies at her doors again.
“Please don’t harm us! We can’t run anymore and we have nothing to offer you”, cried out Aunty, worried what they’d ask now.

“Oh, but you do”, he smiled sheepishly scratching his head, and running his fingers over his pockets, which bulged with bundles of fresh notes. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017


"If only she were more patient",
a dad complains,
visibly impatient that his newspaper is late.

"No other courses to take?"
the mother joins in,
undecided on what breakfast to make.

"Children these days!",
laments the grandpa,
still bitter that grandma doesn't make coffee his way.

"Someone's misguided her. It's not fair!",
the thirty year old,
whose father still dictates what he should wear.

"Wait until next year, she wasn't too old",
the teenager,
fussy that his FB page won't load.

"Poor little girl! There's more to life!",
the dead gatekeepers to funeral pyres.

A child is dead. We killed her dreams.
Let's not debate if she did it right to leave.

Let's unite to resolve, so children can believe ~
That the torch bearers ahead, have left some light indeed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The beggar and BIRA

So was looking to buy some #Bira beer cans for the better half while in Bangalore. Dint know where to go and was just randomly walking down some road. Saw a rag picker, limping with a stick, thanks to a huge wound on his leg. Suddenly feeling rich, I went up to him and offered a hundred rupee note, which he looked at with great disbelief, leaving me feel more benevolent than Mother Teresa. 

I soon found the shop I was looking for. As they were packing my order, the rag picker walks in and orders his drinks, waving the hundred rupee note at the counter. 

I was enraged for quite some time. Though, now I do realize, he's entitled to do what he wants with his money, as I am with mine. 

#DontTipNearBars #GiveToThoseWhoDeserve

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Jane, the what?

So my 10-year old niece Dudu is on a 'learning new words' mode. She reads out new words and goes to her mom every now and then asking what they mean. 

This evening, my sister was watching this series called 'Jane The Virgin' on HBO. Dudu passes by, and squints for a second. My sister freezes. 

Then she reads out aloud, 'Jane The Vinegar'. And off she goes. 

#SavedForNow #SheKnowsWhatVinegarMeans

Sunday, June 4, 2017

In Love

Some days I wonder 
What I did, to deserve you? 
Until suddenly I remember 
I'd prayed for an angel as a friend!