Dignity vs Hunger
Dignity vs Hunger
It was 10.30 pm. They were in their respective beds. Neha was just about to fall asleep when Nikki, her daughter, broke the silence. "Mom" she said, gathering all the courage inside her. Her mother was already half asleep and said "What beta? I have already kept the water bottle beside your bed."
Nikki could not hold it inside her any longer. She sat up and said " Mom I need to talk to you. Something very serious." Hearing this, Neha opened her eyes and asked patiently " What's the matter honey?" Nikki was about to cry but controlling her emotions she said in a quavering voice " Mom, are you a slut ?"
Neha froze. She could not believe what her ears just heard. She took a few moments to respond which to her felt like a long pause. Trying to sound normal, she said " What are you talking about ? I told you not to talk with the neighbors right ? "
At this point, Nikki lost control and started crying. She was angry and frustrated. She almost screamed at her mother " Mom I am 16 and I understand EVERYTHING. I understand why you tell me not to disturb you while you are having a meeting with your so-called 'clients' . I suspect you since two years mom! You don't need to lie now . FOR GOD'S SAKE, PLEASE! How can you do this ?" She cried her eyes out.
Neha was stunned. She couldn't find any words to say. She couldn't lie anymore. Thinking for a while, she spoke at last "So you think I am wrong ? If you're really grown up you must also understand that I did this for you, for us." Nikki was still mad at her. Wiping her tears, she tried to stay calm and said " So you're saying you did this for me. But was it the only option? You could've got a job mom. You are educated. Why the hell did you choose to do such a 'cheap' thing to make a living ? Why?? "
Her mother was still trying her best to be patient. She said "The thing you are calling 'cheap' is what kept you and me alive. And you think I didn't try to get any job? I did. And to be honest, I even got one of them . In a post office…"
"What? Then why?" Nikki interrupted her in between.
"Let me complete. The job offered me 7000 rs. per month. It was when you were 2 year old. I was required to work for 12 hours everyday except Sunday. I worked there for 13 days, taking you with me everyday. On my last day there, I was completely exhausted and felt like crying. You were already crying sitting on a chair besides mine and I didn't even have the energy to calm you down. I just laid my head down on the table to take a pause. And then suddenly you stopped crying! As I looked up, I saw a young man standing there who gave you a chocolate. Before I could say anything he put his hand on my thigh and took out some money from his pocket with the other hand. I understood his I intentions but could not think of anything to do. Seeing my hesitation, he took out some more money and smirked at me.
At that particular moment, I lost everything. Everything I've ever had - my principles, my respect, my body - everything. I agreed to what he intended and after finishing he asked me if I could do it daily. I became the most greedy person on the planet that day. He came again the next day to our home with a few of his friends and paid me even more than yesterday. He was a spoiled rich brat. Later I got to know that he was the son of the head of the department and saw me on the very first day I got there."
Nikki was listening blankly and her mother's voice was growing intense.
She continued " In a few weeks, even more people started to come. To be honest, I never enjoyed it. Never. But it gave me money to raise you and also time to spend with you. Both of which I could not get enough with the job. "
The room was silent again.
Nikki, after a few moments, said " The job may have offered less but the society wouldn't have judged you for it. Don't you think.."
"Do you think I would've raised you with the job the same way I did now? And which society are you talking about? The one which didn't even lend us money for a day while we were starving after the death of your father? They didn't see our misery but saw what I did for living so easily.
I had you with me. The only reason for me to live was you. I care for you only not anyone else. Since my skills were not enough, I had nothing else than myself to sell and that's what I ended up doing."
Nikki said in a shaky voice " So you're justifying being a slut, huh ?"
Her mother exhaled heavily and said " Who am I or anyone else to justify something? I needed to raise you and this was the only clear way. My parents died a long time ago and I don't know any other relatives who could've helped. In the end, it's just you and me. I respect myself for being a good human being and you respect me for being a good mother. This much respect is enough for me to live.
And you know what? I'll still continue this profession till you grow up and get a job."
Tears rolled down from the eyes of both.