Sonagachi: A Bitter Story of Society or Life? We usually Ignore and Pass It On
“I am 37, and I am a prostitute”, with a glimpse of smile Meghna (imaginary) answered as if she is proud to call her by that name. She has a bitter story too. At a mere age of 13, she had been brutally raped and thrown to the outskirts of her village to never been found. But life yet delivered grave tragedy when her parents refused to take her back and she has to leave her village and headed to Kolkata. Somehow, she managed to make a living as a domestic help. But life waited with other surprises too. One of the young family members took her advantage and forced her to leave the job and finally she ended up in Sonagachi.
She is happy and independent in regards of her work. Meghna shares her daily life, her nights with different customers and “Maa” (aunt) who took great care of her when she first started living in this place. She told, “It is not a crime, like engineers or doctors, we only deal with sex or we offer sexual pleasure to the society”. She has a daughter who doesn’t stay with her and Meghna visits her every Monday at her hostel.
“One college boy was really amusing, he asked me that he wants me to be his muse, there are many men who do not want to get protection and utterly drunk and forces me to get drunk or have drugs with them”. She confers, with each passing days her business rates getting low and now she works on fixed rates. She has to give 50% of each customer to the Masi as she is the owner of the brothel. There are many NGO’s in Sonagachi who organizes shows, street gathers, and events on HIV and AIDS awareness, but customers pay extra 25% to the Masi for not using protection.
Meghna looks beyond the streets for her customers while I was profusely asking her so many questions. She told me, “Look, we have a life here, and the life you are leading is beyond I can imagine. I am happy of whatever left in me. Someday I will leave this place and stay with my daughter in a different city, but for now I have to work for a better living for my girl”. I looked her with utter astonishment. She adjusted her multi-coloured saree, lowered the pallu as her customers can see her bare portion and vanished in the crowd of Chittaranjan Avenue. I gazed at the crowd to search her desperately and she gave me a new thought and an immense hope about life.
Have a thought, they are human too.