Mem­oirs of a bar dancer

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

My fi rst mem­o­ries are of my mother. I’d be glued to her. Maybe be­cause I was the only one to in­herit her light eyes, un­like my brother and sis­ter. She too was very fond of me. The grace with which she at­tended to chores like cook­ing even af­ter a whole day of back- break­ing work fas­ci­nated me. I’d be happy to run around and gather fi re­wood, fetch wa­ter or do any­thing to help.

We are from the Nat com­mu­nity of tra­di­tional dancers and en­ter­tain­ers from Jhun­jhunu in Ra­jasthan. My fa­ther’s jug­gling and mother’s dancing saw us through as we mi­grated from vil­lage to vil­lage. My brother as­sisted him and my younger sis­ter and I rope walked or danced. bite out of un­wel­come ad­vances from lech­er­ous clients and con­stant en­vi­ous slurs from other girls.

Al­most a year passed. My fa­ther stopped work­ing. In fact, he had got­ten hooked to gaanja. While I brought home the money to run the house, my sis­ter was left alone to man­age it. later, my sis­ter re­turned from Aza­m­garh in UP where the rick­shaw driver had taken her. Her “hus­band” had aban­doned his three- month preg­nant wife. I had half a mind to tell her to go away. But the bruises on her once beau­ti­ful but now weary face and how vul­ner­a­ble she looked made me break down and I took her in. in­sist­ing on un­pro­tected sex and said he’d pay me less if I in­sisted on it, I told him to get lost. “Don’t for­get you are a pros­ti­tute, don’t act so pricey,” he said while go­ing. I called out af­ter him,

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