This offer was made to me by a pimp (who identified himself as Sahu) as I was walking through the infamous GB Road of Delhi. GB Road, situated near the New Delhi Railway station, is the red light area of Delhi.
Sahu must not have been more than 17-18 years old. I was surprised to see him. He was just a young boy and I could not help feeling pity for him. He pretended to be a little older. While speaking he kept using all kinds of adjectives that the Hindi language has to offer. His mouth was filled by some kind of pan masala. After every second line he spitted. Again an attempt, I guess, to score some age points.
“Sir, these kothas (brothels) are legalised by the government,” said Sahu. I think he was trying to convince me that whatever he was luring me into was absolutely legal and I had nothing to worry about.
“The best ones are kotha no. 56, 57 and 64. You can come with me. There are no charges for seeing. But if you want to do it, it will cost you Rs 150. You can select a girl of your choice. When you are done, you owe me Rs. 10.”
I did not go. But, I wanted to. I wanted to witness firsthand the living conditions of these women. But I was scared to go. I had heard stories of people who have had terrible experiences at these kothas during their first visit. Most of them were robbed and some were even beaten up. So, I could not muster the courage to go inside any of the kothas.
Sahu pointed out to me some of the buildings which hosted these kothas. I followed his finger. And then what I saw was outrageous. I saw many women standing at their windows, waving hands and smiling. I heard a voice. I looked up curiously to spot the voice. “Aaja... sirf dekhta kya hai,” (come...what’s the point of just looking) said the voice to me. I could not react. So, didn’t even try to react. I had nothing to say. Soon I discovered that there were many of them. They were displayed like products. It was a terrible sight.
The buildings that hosted these kothas had a completely dilapidated look. As if no one has ever bothered to maintain it. The orphaned buildings looked like slums; slums at the first and the second floors.
The look on the road was unusually usual. People performed their daily work as if nothing unusual was going on. To me it all looked like a deliberate attempt to ignore whatever is happening. Everyone on the street was a great actor. All were playing their roles brilliantly. And the role was to pretend that nothing was wrong.
Soon the pimp realised that I was not the real customer. He left. And so did I. The only difference was that I left with a heavy heart.