.… Knock knock.
…. Knock knock.
This too went unanswered. In my world, wishes were granted depending on who’s knocking on whose door. A man was always entertained, for my door was always answered.
It's not like I did not have a choice to leave, but I feared if my existence in any other form mattered to anyone else, anywhere else. Chances are I probably dint want to serve any other purpose. My body was too numb, mind too frozen, soul too bruised, for myself to care. Each time I shared my bed with a stranger a part of me was chipped away. So much had been lost that any effort to get the pieces together, to rebuild my life, would only begin and end with, “Who was I anyway?” And so I’m accustomed to what I am, and accepted what I don’t have. My world is a small place, maybe the size of a dingy room with no room for emotions. And its okay as it gives me my bread and butter.
There are times when I have to knock at someones' door for reasons so different. On several occasions I have been in the lock-up with other mates of mine, couldn’t call them friends - there were none in this business. And so I sat behind the bars looking at the policeman I had once bed, waiting for him to look up and into my eyes. To see if I was the only one who sensed the irony of the situation. To know if he would recognize and react, to doubt it would be neither.
And then the burly man of 45 looked up, and straight into my eyes. There were 5 of us, but straight into my eyes. So he remembered me from that night. I'm not sure if that made me proud for having served well enough to be remembered, or relieved with the hope to be freed sooner. That it made me feel better, I can tell.
“Saheb, jaane do na”, I said to him now that our association was established, so what if it had a reference to a shady past. Little did I know my genus just can’t take liberties. He roared back, “Chup chap beth”. I was shocked by the loudness of his scream and attempt to veil his hypocrisy underneath. I still looked, trying hard to find any trace of guilt but found none. Only I could tell the difference between the craze in his eyes that might be a cause of factitious anger today, but resembled that of an animal ready to feast upon his prey that night.
No strings attached, he was doing his job. But if his job involved punishing me for the service I did, then how did he allow himself to be a customer of that service? Or how did the boys, who had one time bargained to reduce my otherwise measly price, manage to laugh at the sight of me on any other occasion? Weren’t we a part of this ‘business’ together? I, the seller, they, the buyer? So if they laughed, or infuriated, or repulsed at the sight of me, shouldn’t they feel the same emotions for themselves? I couldn’t even blame this on ‘lack of conscience’. Easy escape for the bastards.
Next morning, the pimp came and there was a customary exchange of notes. The hawaldaar then unlocked us and we were free. Out in the open I simply wondered if I held the key to any door at all.