Mou counted three nights without sleep and asked her owner, not to bring in more customers. Her experiences were confined to a sweaty room (with godly posters all around) and unclean sheets.
The off day was officially announced once a few glares and a scratch-of-head were directed. A fifty-something face grinned back: “সালা কাল ভোর হতে তোকে এখানে চাই (but, i want you here by the next dawn)”. One petticoat went flying merrily back to the stone-shelf as she hugged her free and deific skin for the first time since months; the gazing bouncer by the exit was still a concern after four years into the line of service.
She quickly put on her shirt and paired it up with a salwar and a chunni- an attire marking her off-duty and appropriately covering her bronzed assets in a single attempt.
Size-four feet rushed back through the betel-stained walls of a shrunken passageway finally deriving into a dingy, one-bed one-bulb room (boasting a table fan without a table). Mou was now free for the day – from pain, penetration and all circumstances of grope; she finally could go back to remembering her old days with a bucketful washing down the dried curves (her eyes closed but peacefully).
This brought to her a much anticipated (although limited, but pleasing) rest-period.
Her noisy antics kept the sun awake until her sleep broke and evening came calling. It was time again, to better the habit of nights. She then grabbed a grubby mass from the heap of objects lying beside a small cavity in the wall (meant for bettering gassed conditions). A blow of air eventually resurfaced title upon the down-at-heel endpaper: “Bangla Shilpa- Sahitya o Sanskritir Itihas”. By default, she navigated to a dog eared page (numbered 133).
Mou’s love story unfolded, until another naive day shone over Sonagachi. It was time to be served by another idling peter.
Featured image lifted from Buzzfeed.
“Bangla Shilpa- Sahitya o Sanskritir Itihas” has recently found a newer version in “Bangla Bhasha O Shilpa Sahitya Sanskritir Itihaas” (West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education; 2016-).
©Soumyadeep Mukherjee, 2017.