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Glaring Shadow - A stream of consciousness novel
“As if to show me the darker side of the flesh-trade, life took me into a harlot zone of the city I had reached,” he said as I refilled our glasses with the drink. “It was so unlike the pleasure streets of our town dotted with decent joints that I frequented; the crowded lanes of that red-light district, lined with girls in garish make-up and the dungeon of a brothel that I landed in were clear put-offs; so when the madam wanted to know about my kind of maal, I was all set to take to my heels, but as the girls trooped into the parade hall, as if on cue, I was tempted to opt for one. When she had led me into in a dungeon of a cubicle to my dismay, a brawl in the corridor made it worse for my mood but she insisted that I should have her for it was seldom that a decent man came her way; even as my empathy for her threw me into a dilemma, she had oralled my passion for her ready possession.”
“Who said they are all suckers, in the negative sense.”
“Your interjections do inspire,” he said. “It’s the paradox of prostitution that man lets some women have a free reign on sex so as to rein in the promiscuity in the rest of them. So, won’t the least sought-after of the whores outscore all the Casanovas of the world put together; well, that’s in the lighter vein, but it was that experience which made me realize that it was stupid to generalize the sex-workers; the harlots in the hell-holes of cities’ red-light districts are a pitiable lot of gullible girls and hapless women forced to cater to the ever growing demand for paid sex there. But thanks to the limited clientele in towns, the whores there can stave off the debilitating sexual burden their ilk in the cities have to bear, yet it’s the so-called call-girls that call the shots, more so, in metros; so all of them, being in the same calling are not on the same footing. If the vicissitudes of life push women into the vice-like grip of madam-pimp-police nexus of the flesh trade, then it’s the outcries of the moralists against legalizing prostitution that ensure their sexual slavery in abominable conditions; maybe, if only paid sex were to have a legal tag, then surely it would entail as fair deal as possible for these hapless women.”
“I hear it’s much worse in the U.S, where the pimps treat the prostitutes as vassals and abuse them in unimaginable ways.”
“Won’t that prove the more materialistic a society is, the less sensitive it is to the plight of the deprived?” he said, “What does one say about the out-dated ideas of the so-called idealists; it seems in matters moral, insensitivity is well ingrained in its sensitivity. Save a Gandhi, even the best of the rest of yore were not averse to their fellow-beings scavenging their latrines; now I wonder why I never thought of it before, maybe, we put up with what we come to grow up with; if not, why don’t the Sikh males find the turban burdensome and the Muslim dames put up with the inhibiting burka? Whatever, the world seems to care two hoots for the plight of the sex-workers as it had been to that of the scavengers, and God knows when it would be wiser to the ills of the unlicensed prostitution, if not AIDS, it’s the VD that’s the return on investment for these pleasure-givers; why, the malady of the flesh-trade is the bane of those who bring in the wares. How sad it is!”
“What an irony that they are undone being the sexual scavengers of the male world?”
“Isn’t it a novel lament,” he said. “But, let the willing sell sex on their own, and see how it works for the sellers and the buyers alike, why it’s bound to benefit all, like in the rythubazars sans middlemen. But the farmers’ suicides make another story; it’s the marginal guys, who gamble on the cash crops that come a cropper; why not, lurking behind the probable windfall is the possible failure to devour; have you heard of a paddy farmer or a wheat grower committing suicide as the cash crop losers do? Yet with their eye on the rural vote-bank, how the parties in opposition tirade against the government of the day over these avoidable calamities; maybe the political power changes hands over their dead bodies but the destitute continue to consume pesticides as a way out of their debt traps. Won’t the callous politicians know that it’s in chasing the quick buck that these greedy guys bungle with their lives; why don’t they exhort farmers to part-opt for the cash crops to meet both ends? Moreover, it’s not as if the bankrupt traders and the insolvent others are not known to commit suicide but then, there is no political axe to grind over their deaths; it all boils down to lobbying, in the open as in the U.S or behind the closed doors in our country; but can sex workers ever muster the sort of clout that the farmers’ lobby has?”
“Are they not making the right noises these days?”
“God bless them,” he continued. “What a good turn one of them gave to my life; I was so put off with that metro jaunt that it was quite a while before I ventured into a brothel, where I chanced upon an angelic whore, who later became my Good Samaritan. Since she struck my romantic chord straight away, I stuck to her for it’s not the sexual variety that I sought even in the paid sex. After a hiatus, when I returned into her ardent arms, she told me that in the meantime she had conceived my child but was constrained to get it aborted. While I felt that something in me snapped, she said it was time that I got married and became a father, when she told me to court a suitable dame, I said that I was unlucky in love; she said that she knew a girl, who would be an ideal wife for me, and as if to goad me to her candidate, she said the dame had a rare sex appeal to eroticize the romantic in me; she said that the girl was not privy to her double life and even if she came to know about it, she was sure she would be sympathetic towards her. It was all too tempting not to follow the lead, more so as I was just then shunned by Devi, who opted to marry Raju, a bank clerk then; now I realize in hindsight that if only his father was half as resourceful as my dad had been, he might’ve been no less an engineer than me.”
“Isn’t it interesting that one woman should lead you to another woman?”
“Didn’t I tell you that my life is rather unusually unusual,” he said joyously. “Her lead led me to Rathi and I fell for her, so to say, head-over-heels, and her parents too were for hastening our wedding. With the wedding a week away, I went to thank her, you can guess who, and she offered herself as her wedding present; well I couldn’t say no to her and she dragged me into her bed, as she put it, to refresh my memory of an amorous woman’s lovemaking. Oh, what a time she gave me for one last time, but the day before the marriage party was to board the Circar Express to reach Rathi’s place, it occurred to me to take a VDRL test, just in case; and to my dismay, I tested positive. Nonplussed though, I rushed to a specialist, who said the tests could go awry at times, and how I wished that was the case in my case; anyway, putting my fears at rest, he said that even otherwise, he would treat me in time to make it harmless for my bride. What a nervous time it was waiting for the fresh report, oh, it was the anxiety of a lifetime; but how relieved I was as the second test negated the first result is beyond words.”
“It’s as if your life never ceases to surprise.”
“It looks like that as I review it,” he said. “How my Rathi gloated over me for being better than the he-man of her dreams; as she lived by her devotion for me, I was lost in my adoration for her. How I used to savor every nuance of her enchanting persona to her heart’s content; as she made me feel wanted like never before, what a wondrous feeling it was, but still, in those fulfilling moments of our life, I opened the book of my unrequited love that she read with empathetic feeling. Yet, I know not why, I wanted to check up whether or not I would feel guilty being unfaithful to her, and seized by an urge to experiment, I took the test through paid sex, the result of which was neither ‘positive’ on the VDRL count nor ‘negative’ on my love count. So shorn of its moral shackles to confine it, my love soared to new highs, taking Rathi’s soul along to the zenith of our emotional union; oh what a life it was and how we both wished it lasted a lifetime; well, it had ended all too soon, but it was a lived life as long as it lasted.”
“Won’t it remind one of Gandhi’s experiments with truth?”
“I have no quarrel with Gandhi the man but I have problem with the Mahatma of his,” he said and as if to remonstrate his apathy for the Gandhian values, he had an extended sip of that Laphroaic.
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