You'll never be called a WHORE-5
---------------------- The Sacrifice ---------------------
Instead of answering, I rose from the bed, wiping my tears with the corner of my dupatta (a long scarf)
and stood against the mirror. For a moment, my vision got dark before I answered him quietly.
“No. I can't!”
He looked at me, shocked and wondering why I was doing this.
"I love you Tarank! I want you more than any man alive, but I can't marry you. Even if I do, and wear expensive saris (dresses) and sit in a car, people will still think I am a prostitute. I cannot change that. You, cannot change that."
"I know, we prostitutes are disrespected, hated and often made fun of. When a woman is criticized for her rotten character, she is compared with a whore." I said deflecting all of my feelings boldly.
A part of him felt my pain and the other part still wanted me to marry him. He was relentless. He thought it was all about him, but it wasn't and if he were honest, he would know what I was struggling with.
He stood there without moving for a long time. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Mamta,” he said.
"I am trapped in lifelong debt to owners and pimps of this brothel Tarank. But if you can give me, I would like to ask you something else."
He was terrified when he realized that I am handling him my little girl. “Her . . . ,” I pleaded.
His voice weak and shaking. “What are you asking me, Mamta?”
"Holding her, everyday, tight close to me was the only thing that got me through my days Tarank. But I don’t need saving, my girl does."
My heart sank but the bold and brash sense of motherly love acted like a coat of armor and I continued.
"I wanted to become a nurse and take care of people. I remember girls from my neighborhood going to school; how badly I wanted to be one of them! I am begging you to help my daughter to escape her dismal fate.
I can't see my daughter live in dingy rooms of this dilapidated brothel Tarank. I want to give her the important chances in life that I never had. Please take her away, put her in an orphanage so that she gets the education and lives her dream."
He said nothing while I spoke. Nothing at all. I explained my reasons, my worries, in a hope that he would understand, yet he was blank, like drained. He asked no questions, and his eyes remained wide with shock, as if he’d just heard his own death sentence.
No matter how much I reassured him, he remained paralyzed with fear, his eyes tearing me apart. More than once, I was stricken with the notion that I was killing him.
His hands continued to tremble. “Okay,” he said in a barely audible voice holding the girl gently.
"Does that mean I should never visit you again, Mamta..."? He asked falling into an almost trance like state.
I could not answer it right away. I squeezed his hand tightly, conscious of the few minutes remaining before I had to make him go away before the Madam finds out about it.
"Oh God! Look at me Tarank! Please...Driving with tears in eyes is difficult." I said leaning and kissing his lips and both cheeks over his tears. Then with my fingers I softly brushed the places I kissed.
"I love you, Tarank! Even though you may not want to hear it now, I want you to know that you’ll always be a part of me. In our time together, you claimed biggest part of my heart, that no one can ever replace. The one I’ll carry with me forever."
"But she is your daughter Mamta..." he interrupted.
"That only is her doomed fate Tarank! Please do not tell her about me"
"When she will grow up, she will understand that bringing her up in a brothel wasn’t an option for me. There’s a stigma attached to me and if she stays with me, she will be shunned by society, the society that sealed her fate at birth."
"I will not see her again but I just hope one day she will find me somehow and look beyond the odium attached to my profession and reach out to me once more. I would love to be called 'Maa' once before I die."
I cried while taking a good look at her for the last time.
My heart was in my throat, stuck there with the strange mixture of torment and misery that made it hard for me to breathe.
I pulled my hand from his, stood up and reached up to the door, I stopped once more and faced him holding the girl in tears. I knew then and there I shall never see him again. I opened the door, and despite the loud squeak, I knew that Leela wouldn’t react.
Finally, reluctantly, he stood, wiped his face, and walked towards the door gently holding the cradle with baby sleeping, without saying a word.
The sky flared red and yellow outside, the sun was already trying to peek in from the horizon. I could hear the sounds of crickets chirping and the steady call of a nightingale. The sounds seemed to give me strength as I closed the door behind him and rushed towards the window to see him off.
He was there, looking at me, walking to his car slowly, without speaking. He closed his eyes and then looked at me once more. If he didn’t leave then, he never would.
He patted his pocket, pulled out his keys, and turned to leave, holding the tears burning at the back of his eyes.
He put the car in gear and eased the pedal down just a bit. As the car started to roll away, I heard the gravel crunching under the wheels. My heart skipped several beats and I felt my ribs crushing at the same time.
He was leaving. This time, forever, taking my heart with him.
"NOW YOU WILL NEVER BE CALLED A WHORE."
I said looking at the car steadily moving away.
〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️ The End 〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️