By Ipshita Chatterjee, Batch of 2018
As I bolt the door shut, I shut the door upon the world. As I turn to face him, the door to a parallel universe opens, where only the language of lust is spoken and understood, where the nuances of enticement, temptation speak volumes, where the art of seduction is taught and mastered and put to effective use, a world where flesh is currency.
He is my third customer since morning. A regular of mine, a sleazy middle-aged man with a potbelly. He has brought me a trinket this time, a silver anklet, maybe to bind me to him, to gain monopoly over my mind, to ensure that therein dwell only his thoughts? Oh, little does he know that my mind is a wild beast.
As I enter the servitude of my master, and surrender my body unto him, my mind wanders off into hitherto undiscovered pastures. Oh foolish and naïve man! You have paid for my body, and there it is, in your service, satisfying all your wants. But no price in this world can buy my mind.
As the waves of thought break upon the shores of my mind, and my customer runs freely through, I muse about my life which is, in many ways, quite extraordinary. In a world where children are known by the names of their fathers, we go by the names of our mothers. I never knew my father. I doubt if my mother did too. But my mother, she was a woman of lore, her name enough to make the best of men go weak in their knees. So were my grandmother and great-grandmother. Courtesans in the courts of the Great Emperor, the apple of the eye of many a nobleman, showered with ample riches and gifts but eluded of respect, generation after generation.
The trade of lust is often called the oldest profession of the world. Rightly so. After man satisfies his hunger, he must satiate his appetite for flesh. Which is how some women get to satisfy their hunger.
My mother taught me the ropes of the game, quite early. How a single flutter of the eyelashes can set his heart aflutter, how twirling the strands of your hair can pull at his heartstrings, how to give him everything and yet keep him burning and longing to come back for more. When boys and girls of respectable households were taught algebra, science, philosophy and arts, I was learning my family trade. But my mother said, remember, a man can be the master of your body, but you and you alone are the master of your mind. The trade of the flesh is just like any other. You don’t associate emotions with business.
As I roam around in bazaars with my head veiled and sneak into temples to offer prayers as inconspicuously as possible, I wonder whether my veil is meant to guard me from prying eyes or guard the prying eyes from my wild wayward mind. I wonder if anyone saw my mind naked, they would be able deal with the surge of thoughts that came with it. Instead, they would cower and call it unbecoming of a lady of my repute. And I would be left jobless. So my secret hides behind the mask of kohl-lined eyes, reddened cheeks and lips. Let them see what they can handle. My mind is mine alone.
I coyly thank him for his little gift and use all my ways and means to ensure that he comes back again. He is generous, that sleazy potbellied man. The other girls in the house will be jealous. But they know that my repute equals and maybe exceeds that of my mother. But what these girls and the world won’t remember of me when I’m gone, is my beautiful mind, which is mine and mine alone.