She opened the cupboard and fished out her red sari. She had been instructed to dress her best, the customers that night were rich and special. And she had struck gold, they preferred her type.
She applied her make-up, dark kajal, bindi, gajra, lipstick, she inspected the mirror one last time. She indeed looked gorgeous, but was this the life she had wished? But then, hunger was cruel and she had to survive. If not for herself, for them.
As she waited for her conveyance to arrive, she looked lovingly at her two angels completing their homework. She couldn’t believe how soon time had flown, the elder one was already twelve.
She was jolted up from her thoughts when her agent arrived to take her. She rose to leave but the man fidgeted at the door.
“What’s the matter?” she smelled something fishy.
“It’s just that, they are a large group and they want a younger girl as well. She looks all grown up now.” Saying this, the man advance towards her elder daughter.
A moment later, he was down on the floor, she had hit him hard, pushed him with all her might.
“Don’t you dare touch my child.” She roared.
“What’s wrong with you? They are not even yours. Moreover, these customers will pay you well. You know, some of them desire real girls.”
“Get out !” she roared and violently pushed the man away. She locked the door from inside and the man left swearing revenge, calling out expletives.
She protectively hugged her visibly shaken daughters, what if she hadn’t birthed them? They were hers and nobody could snatch them away.
Night fell, but she couldn’t sleep a wink. She reminisced her teenage years, by the age of fifteen, she had clearly realized she was a woman trapped in a man’s body. She had no clue how it was among the elite of the society, but for her poor and conservative family, this revelation of hers was a big jolt. Fearing her siblings’ future, her parents forced her to keep her secret hidden, but she couldn’t. So one fine day, she was categorically turned away from her own home.
With little education or cash on her back, she had reluctantly given in to flesh trade, what else could she do? The society refused to accept her, worse still, people chose to rebuke her all the time, call her vulgar names. She didn’t mean any harm to anyone, what was so wrong, if she chose to live a woman’s life?
Where those respected keepers of the society failed her, it was a brothel that took her in, where she had a group just like her. The so called decent people who shunned her by the day would visit her at night, this was their decency, she scoffed.
Her two daughters were perhaps more unfortunate. They had been sold to the brothel as infants, all because they were born ‘Girls.’ The want of a male heir was so high in our country that even parents didn’t hesitate to sell off their daughters, for a small fortune.
Years ago, she had spent a huge portion of her savings to buy the two infants from the brothel owner. And she had sworn to protect them, provide them with education, save them from the life she lived. She would spend any amount of money to help such little girls forced into this trade for no fault of theirs.
She nurtured her daughters, cared for them genuinely, she was handling a responsibility that their biological mothers gave up long ago. So, wasn’t she their MOTHER, in true sense?
If feeling like a woman, being concerned for women and protecting other women made her a butt of their jokes, made her an Ardhanaari, so be it. She was proud of her being feminine, proud of her Womanhood.