WEEK #57 (6-17-12 to 6-23-12): Two Days Ago
My feature on ancient art and culture took me to various places still tucked away from civilization. Sometimes to the jungles and at others to the deep valleys in the mountains where even the sun dreaded to make an appearance and this time I was in Shanghai. After a month of extensive work I decided to indulge my other self.
I saw her at the flower shop. A young woman practicing the 21st-century version of the oldest profession. street-walker in fish net stockings. She wore a short white dress and no make up. She didn’t need to. She had personality that could smoke a man with one intense look. Vulnerability makes women stronger and she sure was a strong woman not just physically but her eyes clearly stated who was in control. I felt the hunger rising in me.
I stood rooted to the ground unable to take my eyes off her. She must have felt the glare burn into her but decided not to notice. An eternity passed before I could muster up the courage to walk up to her.
“100$ for night and no fantasy sex”, She said in a businesslike tone. No emotions attached.
“Fantasy sex? What’s that?” I asked, amused by the term.
She looked hard at my face, rolled out a cigarette and said” Never mind. You got a car?”
I nodded. There was no bigger turn on than a combination of intelligence and beauty in a woman.
I led the way to the car and we drove off to my cottage. It was late and I had a flight to catch next night. There were many loose ends but who cared. All I wanted at that moment was Her. I noticed that unlike others in her profession she hadn’t gone any extra miles to “perfect” herself. I liked that.
” Sana, that’s my name”.
Not much of a talker she was beginning to scare me in a very exciting way.
I smiled to break the ice.
I was sure I saw a smile appear at the corner of her mouth , it made my knees turn into jelly.
We reached the cottage and she immediately began to undress.
Beginning to feel uncomfortable I fumbled with my clothes and after years I really felt alive again
She was strong and gentle and knew the game.
I had never given to such needs before but felt good and relaxed.
It was sometime in the early morning when I slid my hand into hers and she stiffened, woke up startled, jumped out of the bed, grabbed her clothes and rushed to the bathroom screaming abuses and sobbing.
I had no clue what hit me. Too shocked to react I hurriedly grabbed the bed sheet , wrapped it around my waist and began to knock on the bathroom door. I could hear her sobbing but she did not respond even after my continuous appeals and assurances that I won’t harm her.
Numb by the incident , I dragged myself to the side table and gulped almost all the water from the jug. Spilling most of it on the floor. With trembling hands I replaced the jug and waited. Unable to think.
After an hour she emerged. Fully dressed but very conscious of her clothes. She kept pulling down her dress to cover her thighs, failing miserably. Her whole persona had changed. Suddenly she wasn’t the same woman I had picked up last night.
Her eyes were red from weeping. she clutched the hem of her dress and was trembling like a leaf.
” Who are you? Why have you brought me here?” She asked in low scared whisper.
I noticed that she stood very rigid near the bathroom door.
” Remember we met at the flower shop last night and you agreed to sleep with me for 100$ ?” I said as gently as possible carefully choosing my words.
She winced as if struck by a flash of lightning.
“Am not a hooker” she screamed and rushed towards the door crying.
I knew there was something wrong with her and I hurried to stop her fearing she might do some harm to herself.
“Sana, relax am not gonna hurt you. Calm down. I will take you to your home. Where do you stay?”
She backed off immediately.
“Am not Sana. My name is Jen. I stay in Colaba. Where have you brought me? What did you do to me?” She began to weep again.
“Am sorry Jen but you told me your name was Sana. Trust me whatever I say is true. I am a journalist”. I showed her my ID.
She studied it for a long time.
“Where are we?” She was more composed now as she got up and walked up to the window and looked out.
“You got me to Shanghai?”
“No. Absolutely Not. As I said I found you in the flower shop in the market.”
I was beginning to get worried now.
“Let me call a doctor”. I moved to the phone when she suddenly turned and grabbed my wrist.
” Don’t call the police. Please take me home. You are an Indian. Help me.”
I didn’t know how to react. I had a flight in the night and here I was stuck in the most unimaginable situation.
Naturally she had no idea where she lived in Shanghai According to her she wasn’t even aware how she got here.
I suspected a foul play as it is a normal thing with these hookers but the more I watched her the idea weakened.
I decided to take help. It took a lot of convincing to make her agree.
I ordered breakfast and told her to rest.
With a lot of resistance I finally tucked her in bed and began to make the calls.
Even after some string pulling and persistence I was unable to get Jen’s identity verified. How she got to Shanghai also remained a mystery.
It was only in the afternoon we were able to leave the hotel. I took her to the same place from where I picked her in the night. She did not have any memory of it and stared blankly at the flower shop. This was another woman ; vulnerable and weak.
We began to walk towards the beach. She still clutched the hem of her dress uncomfortably. I took her to a store nearby and told her to buy a dress for herself. She mustered a smile through tear filled eyes and chose a comfortable pair of slacks and soft Tee.
I paid as she changed into them, feeling much at ease now.
As we turned to leave I saw her freeze and then all of a sudden she broke into a run.
I ran after her calling out and very scared.
She was screaming some name I was unable to hear from such a distance. The man in front of her stopped , turned and she ran into her open arms. I reached the spot panting and out of breath. She was crying bitterly.
The man was in his mid fifties.
“She lost herself. I was about to take her to the authorities.” I did not know what I was saying.
“She is my daughter Maya. We came to Shanghai four days back. She disappeared yesterday morning with most of the money and I have searched for her since then”. His eyes filled with tears of gratitude. “Thank you for keeping her safe.”
I felt a surge of guilt sweep over me. All the events of last night came alive.
“Maya? Did you just say her name was Maya? She said she was Jen?” I thought I was losing my pebbles.
“Jen? No.no she is Maya. Here, see , this is her passport.” I stared at the picture of hers and the name
“She does that often. Must have gotten scared. Sorry about that.” She smiled feebly, stroking her hair.
Somehow it was all complicated and it did not matter. I nodded and returned the smile
I had cancelled my flight tickets so accepted their invite for dinner.
I realized that she may have forgotten about Jen so did not offer to give any details.
I felt the same urge to hold her close to me as she came down to the dinning hall of the hotel they were staying in. She was exactly opposite of Sana but had the same vulnerable intelligent eyes that made men drop to their knees.
I checked myself and greeted her warmly. She smiled and settled close to her doting father. She had a child like innocence and it made me difficult to associate it with the sensuous woman who has made love to him last night.
After a wonderful dinner and innumerable thank yous I took their leave and headed back to my cottage thinking how my life changed two days ago. I wondered if I would ever meet her again in India. I knew she lived in Colaba but did not have any address. They were supposed to leave by afternoon flight the next day. I noticed she looked at me in a strange way. They were definitely Sana’s eyes. I wondered if she remembered our night together. Before the thought took a grip I drove away.
My flight was rescheduled for two days later so I thought of just resting. Exhausted I slept for I don’t know how many hours until a waiter knocked at the door waking me from my slumber.
It was a note in childlike handwriting.
“We are all one and one is many. Our lives are the notes of the beautiful tragic score life plays all the time. We have our eccentricities, secrets, game plans, vulnerabilities, and highs. We tip-off one another, wage wars, indulge in passion, sit huddled in a corner and weep and sometime plot murder. Ready to kill each other. But we stick together. We have one thing in common. Intelligent imagination. It keeps our strings attached. There are many of us. Sana and I are the hosts. Then we are split and fractured into many more. Let us call them ghosts. Usually we are in command but sometimes these ghosts take over. Occasionally as individuals but more often combined. I live in a house of mirrors with these reflections I call myself, warped and twisted. Echoes of loneliness gets deeper sometime and I do not know my name or who I am. I become a stranger to myself. I can not tell what is real and what is not. I just endure though at times I lose the will to do so. I know I have.
We know you understand. To understand is to feel love and compassion and to forgive. My father knows I am not well. We have found a therapist. Most of the time I do not recollect anything but this time I feel something that can’t be named. I feel you. You are a good man.
Sending my Indian address if you wish to meet sometime. Thank you for everything . I hope to write a book one day and I will dedicate it to you.
I felt a tear roll down my cheek. A tear of respect and love for a brave woman. I prayed that she be cured of her illness for she deserved one whole healthy happy life.