Display Picture for a Commercial Sex Worker
It was the fourth day of Ganesh Chaturthi. Tantra left early on her Yamaha RayZ. Her destination was the Dagduseth Halwai temple. The traffic was unbelievable. She parked her scooter near Kasba Ganapathi and started her day. A day which left an indelible mark on her life. A day far from the humdrum of her daily life. She walked, prayed, ate through to the evening.
Praying was not her only aim for the day. It was 8pm. She stepped into a red red world. A world known to every resident Punekar!
As the chaos slowly, very slowly faded, commercial sex workers started emerging from their dens. Sarees adjusted, well, deliberately not adjusted, to show off some cleavage. Lurking men eyeing their pleasure for the day.
Tantra walked past them. She looked into the eyes of a 20 something lady dressed in a red saree with heavy eye liner and lipstick. She walked towards her and asked for time to talk in exchange of 5000INR. The lady agreed with a smile. Her teeth, red, riddled with stains from the lipstick. They walked through a dingy alley leading to a flight of stairs which seemed like a mini Everest. They reached the room assigned to her. Tantra was in no mood to get into the sob story of the lady. The lady was Laya, a 23 year old commercial sex worker trafficked from the far eastern part of India. Living in Budhwar Peth since 4 years.
Tantra thanked her for the job she was doing. The job of satisfying the sexual cravings of hordes of men who come visit her. Keeping these men away from not having consensual sex with a random female. Laya may have been trafficked but she is making a living off the streets. Tantra held Laya’s hands and laid a peck on her wrist and asked for a favor – not to beg for clients. The men will flock.
Laya looked past the window, the Aarti (prayer) to Lord Ganesha blaring from the microphone from a few 100 meters away. Laya held Tantra’s hand back and thanked her for instilling some sort of dignity into her mind.
Tantra walked out. She got paid handsomely today. Laya changed her attire.
In this colorful world, she was stuck with red. A red saree, a red blouse, bright red lipstick in a red light area. The first payment when red blood flowed out. This time she wore a blue kurta.
Laya took out her phone. She finally used her front camera to take a selfie. She removed the display picture of some random Bollywood actress and made that click her DP – Display Picture on all social media platforms.
She left a mark though.
She just had a little extra.
A little bit extra.