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Red Light

Red Light

15 mins 492 15 mins 492

“ Women are sold here”


These four words were not only pasted at the girls' rooms but at rooms of all women working there. Even if these words were not written, things were clear by seeing the place.

Kanya had a strict objection with these four words. According to her, these words should have been replaced by the words: "Body is sold here” Who can sell a woman and whose has the status to buy her.No one has the status to separate woman and body. Those who bid for the body with mistaken notion also buy the soul which carries the body.

Kanchan: “What happened Kanya? Was there no customer for you today?”

Kanya: “You too had none.”

Kanchan: "Someone will come, who will spare us!" 

Kanya: "If someone spares us, she may not spare us Kanchan". "

Kanchan: “Why are you scared of her so much? Let her die, how long will she live?”

Kanya: “She will not die so easily. Our whole body is in her custody. It looks instead of roti, we may get whip again today".

Kanchan: "Kanya, the evening has come to pass, no hungry wolf has been seen till now, have they all turned human?

Kanya: “Yes, it looks like that. Your makeup today is not very appealing. Who will look at you then ……”

Kanchan: “You too do not look better. Let’s sleep after getting the beating. No rotis, as we go empty: handed".

The day when their bodies were not sold they got enough beating and abuses to fill their stomach.

Kanchan: “Dude, let us run away”.

Kanya: "What happened to you, today the effect of beating seems to have gone on to your head .Have you forgotten about Payal’s case? She too tried to run away from here. Screwing Meena Bai means an invitation to death."

Kanchan: “So what sort of life we live now, dude?”

Kanya: "Your brain has rotted. Do not blabber anything."

Kanchan: “Let Meena Bai go to hell?”

Kanya: "Has the hunger gone on to your head. Please keep quiet, even the walls have ears? We may get more beating".

Kanchan: "You have seen extremes of beating, how else would you like to get beaten now, and which walls and ears you see, here you see only the body which is sold, and there is nothing else here."

Kanya: "Go and sleep, Dude. Don't talk too much. My head is reeling, "Why do ask me to sleep? Now you may get beating from me.

Kanchan: "You don’t sleep. Allow me to sleep".

Kanya used to keep awake at nights while spending time on physical labor when her body was sold and while running wild horses when she could not find a buyer. She was awake in every situation.

Kanya: “He Kanchan… He Kanchan”.

Kanchan: "Hmm! Why don’t you allow me to sleep”.

Kanya: “Are you asleep?”

Kanchan: “Yes”.

Kanya: “Hear me”

Kanchan: "What the fuck is this, Dude? That woman does not allow me to take food; you do not allow me to sleep. Hell, maybe a better place than this. Do you know the sleep which doesn’t come to me after eating rotis, comes after getting the beating?"

Kanya: Hear me”

Kanchan: “Ok, speak out. What’s that you want to blabber?"

Kanya: “Please tell me one thing.”

Kanchan“You have spoiled my sleep, so ask anything you want”

Kanya: “ I have grams, would you like to eat?”

Kanchan: “You woke me up only to ask this?”

Kanya: “No Dude. How long are you here?”

Kanchan: “I have almost completed three years”

Kanya: “Don’t you know exactly?’

Kanchan: “Oh, it means three years”.

Kanya: “Have you come here of your own?”

Kanchan: “You have a rotten brain. Will anyone comes here willingly?”

Kanya: “Why, don’t we have Nanda, the one at the corner room? How happy she is! She must have come of her own”.

Kanchan: “Who has told you, Dude? I am here before you. Do you know more than me?”

Kanya: “Then!”

Kanchan: “Then what? Her man had left her here”                                           

Kanya: “ And you?”

Kanchan“My father”

Kanya: “Father?”

Kanchan: “Don’t tear off your eyes. He was my stepfather”.

Kanya: “Has he died?”

Kanchan: “Will he die so easily, waiting for my curse.”

Kanya: “And mother”

Kanchan: “She was a coward. It is a different matter that she got married thrice without fear.”

Kanya: “Have any brother or sister?”

Kanchan: “Must be. How many and where are they, I myself do not know”.

Kanya: Marriage in bulk.Cchildren in bulk”.

Kanchan: “Think that way.”

Kanya: “How old are you?”

Kanchan: “Oh Shit, taking my interview after waking me up at midnight”

Kanya: “Tell me”

Kanchan: "I do not know how old I am ... but yes there was an old woman in my neighborhood, she used to scream at my father," When will you get her married, she is already sixteen? If she gets hooked and elopes, then she will die only after tarnishing the entire village." I have been here for two years, according to which I must be eighteen. And, you?"

Kanya: “ I am sixteen”

Kanchan: “You know for certain?”

Kanya: "Yes, why not? I am not illiterate like you. I have passed Std.X”

Kanchan: “Then why do you die here?”

Kanya: "I was brought by my sister's husband, on the pretext of getting me a job here, and sold off to this Meena Bai."

Kanchan: “Why do you want to run away from here? Stick to this place.”

Kanya: “No, I want to study and become something”

Kanchan: “You have already become. Treat this as your fate.”

Kanya: “Where is the dignity in this? Don’t you want to come out?”

Kanchan: “Where will I go from here. I cannot go home”.

Kanya: “Why?”

Kanchan: “Here the customers pay me money and sleep. There, my stepfather used to beat me and sleep with me every day.”

Kanya: “What?”

Kanchan: “Yes, I do not remember the number of times he has raped me”

Kanya: “ And your mother?”

Kanchan: I have already told you that she was a coward. She asked me to be silent. It was good that I was sold here. This job is better than humiliation. I am more secured here than there.

Before Kanchan could complete her talk, someone had knocked on the door.

Stranger: “ Open…. Open quickly. Are you dead?”

Kanchan: “What! Why do you die at this hour of the night? Has your mother died, bastard?”

Kanchan got a tearing slap on her cheek. Meena Bai’s permanent broker, Gagan, in heavily drunk condition and uttering the worst abuses fell down on the threshold. Even in his intoxicated condition, some divine power made him talk.

Broker Gagan: “Come down. Meena Bai is calling you.”They thought that their words have been heard by someone and they may be skinned by the old lady.

Kanya: “We have already got the beating for the day, why have you called us so late at night?”

Broker Gagan: "Kanya… your voice makes my body shiver. Hear me….I have a liking for you. One day you may be taken off from here….."

That drunkard talked as much as he could under the effect of alcohol. Kanya and Kanchan came to Meena Bai trembling. 

“ Here comes my two Princesses”

Kanchan: “Look, Kanya, (the drama of the old lady has started), someone special has come today. Will she ever give us respect otherwise. Why not the old lady dies?”.

Meena Bai to Kanya and Kanchana, "Why do you stand there? Come and sit near me,

Meena Bai to Customer: Saheb, look at them, they are too good, keep your hand on the one you like.Why delay ?”

Kanchana: “Customer, so late at night, Kanya.”

Kanya: “This is the hunger of a man, Kanchan, which has no time.”

Meena Bai: “ Tell me, Saheb whom you want to go with?”

That rich and influential person pointed towards Kanya. Kanchan got a sense of relief as she could now sleep peacefully.

Meena Bai: Who?….Kanya !! Sir, I knew that you would ask for Kanya. She is our pride and my whole business runs on her.I could know your taste, the moment I saw you.

Broker Gagan: “Please stop buttering Meena Bai, and fix the price”.

(Standing with that influential man was a middle-aged man who looked scary and seemed to be his servant but he was working as a broker at that time.)

Meena Bai: “ What should I tell about the price, Saheb?Had it been some other girl I would have accepted what you give but for her I shall demand .”

Customer: “ What is the specialty in this girl?”

Meena Bai: “Judge her and then fix the price. We are not running away.”

Customer: “OK, Meena Bai. I shall pay the amount while I leave.

Meena Bai: "As you please, Saheb".

"Hi Kanya, take Saheb to the room, extend hospitality to him since he doesn’t come daily. Play your magic on him now so that he remembers only this route forgetting the rest".

Kanya thought that today’s beating will be due on this old lady because she was asked to do the work, at late night, even after getting the beating.

The bargain was good for Kanchan but Kanya was at a loss.While going to the room Kanya found Kanchan enjoying her sleep peacefully. Kanya felt jealous.After taking the wealthy person to a well: decorated room and made him sit, Kanya came out and did some quick make up in her room and then returned to her customer.

Kanya: “Shall we start ,Saheb?”

Even after telling three times when that man did not hear, Kanya kept her hand on his shoulder to remind him the purpose why he was there.

Kanya: Saheb! I ask you shall we start?

Customer: "May I get a glass of water?"

Kanya: Water now? Who drinks water here? Wait I shall get you.

Customer: Then what do you drink?

Kanya: “Saheb, have you come for the first time?”

Customer: “Yes”

Kanya: Really!

Customer: “Yes”

Kanya: “ Oh! That is the reason you ask for water. I shall give you that which is the custom here.”

Customer: “Custom?”

Kanya: Yes, Liquor. It is our custom to drink liquor”   

Customer: “ But I don’t drink.”

Kanya: “ Have you done all this before or this is the first time”

Customer: “What do you mean by 'all this'?”

Kanya: “ That which you have come for.”

Customer: “ What for have I come here?”

Kanya: “Saheb, why do we waste time…OK, I will start.”

As soon as Kanya touched him the man moved towards the window.

Customer: "What are you doing?”

Kanya: “What am I doing!”

Customer: “Whatever you are doing.”

Kanya: “ So what do you want me to do, I am doing the job for which you have paid.”

Customer: “What sort of place is this?”

Kanya: "Saheb ... what did you say? ... what sort of place is this?" "Saheb, either you are mad or you have come here drunk something which has no smell. But its effect is clearly visible."

Customer: “Haven’t I told that I don’t drink”.

Kanya: “What do you want?.. who are you?My God! Saheb, are you capable of doing something?

Customer: "Shut up".

Kanya: “If I should not talk or do anything, then what for are you paying?”

Before Kanya could continue further the man kept both his hands on his face and started crying. This was happening for the first time. Kanya was not able to understand what he was crying for. If the old lady comes to know that I made him cry then I may have to pay the price for it.

Kanya: “Saheb, if you don’t want to drink, don’t drink, if you don’t want to do anything, don’t do, but please don’t cry.”

Customer: "Forgive me, what for have I done all this? Why have I done all this? Oh God! What has happened to me? Please excuse me.”

Kanya: “What has happened Saheb? Please sit here peacefully. I shall bring water for you.” 

Bringing water from the outside was no less a challenge, who drank water there…Kanya bought water and bolted the door quickly.

Kanya: “Saheb, please have water”.

Customer: “Thank you .”

Kanya: “ OK.What is wrong with you? Why did you apologise suddenly, for what?”

Customer: “What is your name?

Kanya: " Kanya and yours?

Customer: “My name is Indar.”

Kanya: "What for have you come here?I ask an odd question because seeing your condition I don’t understand what to ask”.

Customer: "I cannot live without her, I will die, She cannot do like this. She knows what she has done".

Kanya: "Who has done what?"

Indar: “I don’t believe that she has gone leaving me .”

Kanya: "Indar Saheb,I do not understand what you say.If you want to say something say completely so that you too may get relief"

Indar: “I will not get relief"“

Kanya: “ Then why did you come?”

Indar: “My friend told me that if I come here I may get relief. I find her everywhere. I may get mad.”

Kanya: Who is that? Where has she gone?Please tell clearly so that I may understand.

Indar: “How can you help? What do you know except selling your body. You are interested in your money”.

Kanya: “Anything more?”

Indar could understand that in his frustration and adversity he was misbehaving with Kanya.

Indar: “Sorry. Listen, I am sorry”.

Kanya: "If you like you may tell me your problem.”

Indar: "I do not know how I came to this place. I have not even dreamt of such a place.I am unable to believe that I have come here and talk with you."

Kanya: “And you feel sorry for that.”

Indar: "What I mean is why should I not feel sorry. I am from a respectable family (Such things never happen in our family.)"

Kanya: "Well, respectable people have a monopoly here. You do not know it – that is a different issue".

Indar: "I do not agree. OK, maybe that you are correct.I cannot claim on behalf of the whole world. I just want to say that I am not like that"

Kanya: “Agreed, proceed”.

Indar: “She has left me and gone. She did not think even once that I may not be able to walk without her. How can I live ?”

Kanya: “Who was she?”

Indar“: (Don’t say “ was”) She is still alive. Your question has increased my heartbeat. Please touch and see.

Kanya did not dare to touch Indar.

Indar: “Where has she gone?”

Indar: “She did not tell me. I cannot live without her. See I am getting breathless. She has not taught me to live without her. That was my mistake.”

Kanya: “What is her name?”

Indar: “Her name is Tashi”.

Kanya: “It is a beautiful name”.

Indar: “When you will see her you will know whether her name is more beautiful or she herself.”

Kanya: “ Where has  she gone?”

Indar: "I do not know as I was going to see her like any other day a call came asking me to reach there immediately. I ran and after reaching there I took her in my arms . She placed her hand on my head and left the world to an unknown destination. Was she waiting for me to reach?”

Kanya: “My God! What happened to her?”

Indar: Cancer. But she promised that she would survive. She gave me hope not once but many times. She had not broken any promise. She does not know to tell lie. But what has she done?

Kanya: “When did it happen?”

Indar: Yesterday. I went to the hospital . I had gone to buy flowers of her choice ... would she give me such a big punishment for being away for a moment,.

Inder's condition was out of control. He was heartbroken and totally shattered. He could not even feel where he was sitting, what he was talking, to whom he was talking he was just like a child , opening his heart and grieving. Kanya had no way but to listen on humanitarian ground under the fear that the man does not refuse to pay for the services …..but she asked Indar whatever questions came from the corner of her mind

Kanya: “ Should I ask you one thing?”

Indar: “Yes”

Kanya: “There was one another girl with me…When you had nothing to do, why did you choose me?”

Indar: “ I do not know… but” But your eyes looked like that of my Tashi. For a moment, I felt that Tashi was looking at me and as usual, this time also she would come forward and hold me in her arms... I was not conscious so thinking your eyes like that of Tashi’s, I committed a sin.”

Kanya: “ Sin?”

Indar: "Yes, It can be only sin if I think that someone is like her. Where am I living now ? So what difference does it make whether I go to a brothel or a temple. "

Kanya: "I do not know how to satisfy you with my words but I can say this much , “ You are always welcomed here anytime, I shall hear you talking about Tashi silently and this way you may keep her alive eternally. ..."

Indar: “ She died in these arms, how can I be alive?”

"Love makes a person selfish, but the very same love makes two humans even great, Saheb. ... There may be some unfulfilled dreams of Tashi  …..Just for fulfilling that dream you must be alive….she can never go too far from you … this is clear by looking at your condition. Keep yourself alive through her dreams..”

Indar’s subconscious mind tore open all paths blasting his mind....The glorious life spent in the company of Tashi came from all directions in the form of sweet memories to rejuvenate his heart and mind.  

Tashi: “Indar, please hear me.”

Indar: “ Speak out Tashi, I am hearing you.”

Tashi: Where are you listening? You look deeply immersed in your thoughts.”

Indar: "So long you are with me, I will be lost…what is there for me to take in this materialistic world".

Tashi: “ Hear me… I am going to the Red Light tomorrow.”

Indar: “What did you say?”

Tashi: Yes, you have heard me right. Red Light.

Indar: Are you in your senses? Beware before you utter that name.”

Tashi: “ Hear me Indar… It is the topic of my research”.

Indar: “ What is this topic ?…. change it.”

Tashi: Indar, I would like to know what sort of compulsion the women have to go for such work in this profession.

Indar: “ Maybe something. But you don’t fall in the trap”

Tashi: "How insensitive you are Indar?, How can you say that ?... I will go and do research on this topic….I have made it clear to you.. And if you ever think of fulfilling any of my dreams then think how best you may get enlightenment to these women.. "

Inder's subconscious mind had returned, Kanya’s words and Tashi’s unfinished dreams stood like a strong wall before him..Indar: “Kanya, may I hold your hand?"

Kanya: “Saheb, what happened?”

Indar: “Tell me if I have your permission.”Kanya: "It is up to you, Saheb.You have paid the money so you may ….."Indar: “No, please don’t mistake me”.

Indar kissed Kanya’s hand and kept it on his head as if it was a sacred book.

Indar: "Kanya, had I not come here today I would have lost Tashi forever. I will not be able to repay the favor done by you, but assure you that I shall fulfill the dreams of Tashi and also yours When I come next, tell those girls, like you, who want to get out of this place that the time has come for them to leave."Telling this Indar slid the folds of the curtain and came out in electrifying speed. The night had almost passed, the sound of temple bells and Azan from the mosque were being heard. Kanchan too had got up from her sleep. A light came from all around.

This is English Translation of Hindi Story रेड लाइट by भारती गौड़ ( laaitt/detail?undefined)

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