Skip to main content

Note: This story won me the Runner-Up Award for BTB StoryBites Season-1

She gently shut the heavy door behind her, a smile playing on her lips. Ten years since they had let her go, and today she was back in their office. She would be resuming work the next day. Lesser pay, but thankfully, employed.

Back home, Her daughter leapt with joy, “Amma will be going to office, she’ll pay my fees, and I’ll go to school.  Bhaiyya, did you hear that?” The little one sauntered off to break the news to her friends.

The teenage son wasn’t glad though, “You are telling me you’ll return to that place after a decade. But why?  Do you know how difficult it has been to wash off the bad reputation your job had created?”

“I am not going back as a dancer. She reasoned. I’ll be a waitress, just serving. The timings are fixed and the pay is definitely more than what I earn now, sweeping and washing at other people’s homes. This way, I can spend more time with the two of you.”

“Chi!”, the young man cursed, “Aren’t you ashamed woman? You were a Bar Dancer, they even closed down these shady places. My father left us in shame. And the moment they lift the ban, you want to go back. What do I tell my friends, when my mother is some kind of a bad…”

“Stop. Right there.. She cut him sharp. Your father promised me heaven and brought me to these dingy slums of Mumbai. Often wasted, he was fired from his job and so, I had to dance. Before men, for money. To keep you alive. We had a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies, why would I be ashamed?  It’s when they suddenly closed down dance bars, that your father left me. Because I couldn’t pay for his booze anymore.”

The boy changed  his tone,“All I am saying is that there’s a girl growing up, in this unsafe atmosphere. You could at least provide her with a life of dignity.”

Oh, she quipped.“Why don’t you have some dignity and stop flunking at school continually?”  “Get steady employment and provide her with a secure environment. Men like you banned us, claiming that we were a threat to society’s sanctity, rendering us jobless and penniless overnight. But they had no qualms about those who visited us and showered money. Your grandfather refuses to accept me anymore. He didn’t send me to school, left me to fend for myself with an old drunkard, and I’m unchaste. As for you mister, I pretty well know what you and your worthless friends watch on your phones all the time. So, the one person your sister is not safe from, is you.”

He noisily flung something on the floor before stomping off. A typical reaction, when a woman won an argument, she scoffed. She didn’t give two hoots about what he thought, but she would raise her daughter strong and educated. Independent enough to respect and handhold every other woman, in a judgemental society.

Leave a Reply