Rekha was mutinous on that day. She had exhausted all her energy to satisfy men in bed. She was a prostitute. She despised this profession. She thought of her home in Kolkatta. She wondered how she got herself landed in this hell. She was just twenty-two and completed her graduation in commerce.
She rued the day when she saw that misleading advertisement in the newspaper six months ago.
She had applied for a job offering lucrative salary with no work pressure. She received a call letter for the interview from the hiring agency. It mentioned that she had to come to the Hotel Regal Palace on 15th March 2018 before 9.30 AM. She was ecstatic after learning that she had got the job. The hiring company called BT Traders offered the selected candidates a welcome drink. Rekha found it strange that the company had hired only women for various positions.
She did not bother to investigate as she was in need of a job. She chatted with other women and sipped her juice. The poor women didn't realize that their drink was spiked. The drug showed its effects on the entire group. They lost their consciousness. A gang of criminals transported these women to a brothel in Bareilly. They had rented a van for the purpose. They made sure to keep these women sedated till they reached their destination.
The pimp and his live-in partner Hirabai took over the custody of these women. These women went through a great deal of trauma. They were drugged and beaten. High profile clients visited the brothel and raped these women every day. They were just like zombies- the living dead. Their bodies were battered and bruised.
Rekha came back to the present after reminiscing her horrible past. She saw her face in the mirror. She had turned into an ugly witch from a beautiful princess. She had an evil plan taking shape in her head. She decided not to eat the drugged food. She was in no mood for sex. All the women had guards outside their rooms. When the guard unlocked the door to give her food, she used her charm to turn him on. She said, "Hey, handsome! Why don't you join me to have some fun?" He flashed his yellow teeth stained with tobacco. She invited him in, and they made love. "Wow, that was fun!" said the guard, "We must do this more often." "Sure, sweetheart", she said, "Now be a good boy and do me a favor. I want some onions from the kitchen." "You are not supposed to eat onions", said the guard, "Your customer won't like it". "Do as I say, or I will complain about you", said Rekha in a firm voice.
The guard muttered something and went to get onions for her. She took the onions from him. After closing the door behind him, she took a small knife and cut the onions. She ate the raw onion to put off the prospective client. She kept some pieces of onion under her armpit to raise her body temperature.
It was evening by the time someone knocked at her door. "Are you deaf?" shouted the client,"I am banging on the door for the past ten minutes." She slowly opened the door and said, "I am sorry I won't ask you to come in. I am not feeling well. My doctor told me to undergo several tests. He thought that it might be a case of swine flu." He fled away without waiting for a moment. He rushed downstairs to demand a refund of his money from Champaklal, the pimp. The latter and his partner Hirabai were alarmed. They returned his money rather reluctantly. They paid a visit to Rekha.
Hirabai admonished her by saying, "How did you fall sick? You can't afford to be ill in this business. Take these medicines and relax for today. You have to be alright by tomorrow. We have a VIP coming tomorrow to stake a claim to your body. Make sure you look good enough to grab his attention." Rekha nodded and took the pills from her. She was desperate to find out the identity of the VIP. Hira and Champak left her room whispering among themselves. Rekha spied upon them. She couldn't listen to their entire conversation. She managed to hear the word minister. She thought of a plan to escape from this hell and rescue other girls as well.
She had created a dent in the middle of the wall to communicate with another girl called Zeenat. She returned to her room and closed the door. She took out a loose brick from the dent in the wall. She called out Zeenat's name. The latter came rushing to her side. Rekha asked her, "Would you like to be a free bird again?" "Are you kidding me?" asked Zeenat, "I would do anything to get away from here. There is no way we could escape from this place. How will we earn our livelihood?"
Rekha replied, "I have thought of everything. I have come up with a foolproof plan. I need your help to execute it." She discussed her plan with her. Zeenat was delighted. She gave her a thumbs up sign.
They had to queue up to use the two bathrooms situated downstairs. Rekha got up early in the morning. She took her clothes and a towel for a shower. She joined Zeenat in one of the lines. Zeenat winked at her. She told Rekha that she had conveyed her message to all the girls. Most of the girls wholeheartedly supported her plan. Some of the girls were skeptical as they realized that they had no future outside these walls. Rekha said, "Most of you must be wondering about our future outside the brothel. We are going to have a great career ahead. Nobody is going to question our past. Please believe me. Don't you want to punish these scoundrels for ruining our lives?" All the girls unanimously supported her. She kept her fingers crossed for the evening.
Zeenat slipped into her room without being seen. She carried her smartphone with a selfie stick. One of her satisfied clients had given it as a gift. She hid behind the curtain. She had positioned her phone to get a better view. Someone gently tapped the door. Rekha opened it and welcomed the Minister Raghuram Pandey. He was in his mid-fifties with a protruding belly. Rekha wanted to throw up after seeing his ugly face. Nevertheless, she managed to satisfy him. Zeenat had recorded everything.
Rekha was ready for an adventure on the following day. Zeenat gave her some money for transportation and food. She also gave her the smartphone to serve her purpose. The girls created a commotion in the brothel to divert the attention of all the guards. Rekha quietly slipped out and caught a taxi. She searched for Minister Raghuram Pande's office address on Google. She gave him the address of her destination. The taxi driver dropped her outside the minister's office. He sped away after she paid him the fare for the trip. She knew that the security guards would not let her in. She approached them confidently. She said, "Your Minister's career is at stake. Ask him to meet me immediately, or else I will shatter his public image."
The guards allowed her to meet the minister after seeking his permission over the intercom. The minister asked her to sit. He asked her, "What can I do for you, young lady? My security guard told me about your blackmail. How much money do you want to delete that video?"
She replied, "I am not interested in money. I want you to order a raid on the brothel you visited last night. Please rescue all the captive women, and send them to a rehabilitation center. The police should arrest Champaklal and Hirabai for forcing girls into prostitution." The minister looked at her incredulously, " I think you have lost your mind. Just think how much money you can mint if you stick to this profession. Don't deprive young men of their enjoyment. Besides, our society does not allow whores to practice any other profession."
Rekha was furious. She said, "You are a typical misogynist. Thanks for speaking out your mind. I am going to let the media know that you treat women as objects of lust. You want them to entertain sex-starved youth in bed. The public would thrash you if they catch you spending their hard earned money on the prostitutes. You don't have any choice. I have forwarded our porn video to all of my friends. They will upload it on the Facebook or Instagram if you try to kill me." She showed him the video. She told him that her demand would help him to garner votes in the election.
Setting up of the rehabilitation center for the abused women would leave an indelible impression on the public. The vocational training given to these women would create more job opportunities.
The minister appreciated her courage and a pragmatic approach to tackle a critical situation. He ordered the police to crack a whip on the brothel and rescue all the inmates. He asked them to make a temporary arrangement for their stay through some NGO.
He sent Rekha with the police inspector and his constables. Zeenat and the other women were relieved to see Rekha with the police. The police arrested Champaklal and Hirabai with their goons.
The minister kept his word and established a rehabilitation center for the former prostitutes. He did not disclose their former profession. Experts in various fields imparted them training in sewing, cooking, arts, and beautician courses. Rekha guided them to form a self-help group to promote their business.
Their venture was a runaway success. They earned their lost reputation as the experts in fashion designing cooking and beautician. Rekha deleted the porn video from Zeenat's mobile. Zeenat and others looked upon Rekha as their friend, philosopher and guide. She had helped them regain their dignity. She thought that the days in captivity taught her to respect freedom. She enjoyed the fragrance of roses in the garden. She began to fall in love with her life once more.