I chanced upon an article today that reported a peculiar story. It also brought to the surface an episode from the past that changed many things in my life.
The Election Commission of India has replaced the ‘G B Road’ address with Swami Shraddhanand Marg. The idea that triggered name change came after the EC realised that most ‘G B Road’ sex workers chose to remain indoors on Election Days since they were ashamed and embarrassed at the mention of the word ‘G B Road’ on their voter’s card.
It is definitely a step in the right direction. But does that change the reality?
Initiation into paid sex
It’s been over two decades since I visited Delhi’s infamous GB Road. And I went there only once! I remember vividly the chain of events and it still haunts me.
I had just given my 12th boards and couldn’t wait to be free from restrictions and routine! My closest friend, a Pahari fellow from Uttarakhand, was a massive fellow at heart, and our friends were mostly from Nepal. We bonded so well that our Nepali friends invited us to Kathmandu for a small vacation. It was an exciting prospect and we immediately agreed.
The day finally arrived. We had to catch a train and were going via Patna, the two 17-year olds. At the old Delhi railway station, we discovered that our train, Janta Express, was running eight hours late! We felt harassed and didn’t know what to do. The Pahari fellow, who was somewhat of a dare devil, suggested we go to GB Road. I had heard the name but never imagined I would one day go there. I was too proper a fellow back then, living up to my model reputation…
Without warning, the idea hit me below the belt. I changed in an instant, desperately wanting to release all the tension of the past few months. I was game and couldn’t wait to get into someone’s pants!
We left our luggage at the station and took a rickshaw to a world that has intrigued me ever since I was just a little more than a child. I had visualized the place many times, but nothing could prepare me for the horror that trapped us into its ugly tentacles!
Chain of events
Standing on ground zero, we could see around 20 three-story buildings in a series. I later discovered there were about 100 brothel houses operating from these buildings.
Suddenly, a Nepali tout snuck up to me and said in a conspiratorial tone, “naya kashmiri maal aaya hai. Sirf 16 saal ki kacchi kali hai…!” I didn’t know people spoke like that. This was over 20 years ago, I was naïve and virgin. We quickly recovered and I tried to fake confidence and maturity. I asked, “dikhne mein kaisi hai. Saaf hai na?” to which he replied, “ekdam mast”. I asked how much and he said 60 bucks. We tried to haggle but he didn’t budge. We had a deal.
We followed him stealthily and reached an opening that led to the first floor. It was towards late evening. Shops operate at ground level during the day and the brothels come alive once shops close. Only one person could take the stairs, one at a time. It was dingy, claustrophobic and there was a stench of sex to the whole place.
The first level opened to a large seating area with a ‘chauki’ in the middle. A matriarchal figure was perched on it and around three ‘sex workers’ were tending to her. One was putting oil in her hair while the others massaged her hairy legs.
A cacophony of voices had begun to give me headache and just as suddenly, I wanted to run away from there. I couldn’t breathe but there was no escaping.
The moment I turned around to leave, the tout caught my arms and steered me back to Kotha number 21. “kahan jaa rahe ho bacche, aaye ho toh ab kar hi lo,” the tout tried to influence me, threateningly. I could hear half-naked women call me ‘Rahul Roy’ because I had hair just like his. I flushed and fastened my pace towards my ultimate destination. My friend seemed unaffected and went through the motion. I had trouble doing that.
The door opened and it couldn’t have been more than 6 by 6. There was a cot and two young, ugly-looking girls were waiting for us. The tout was looking at my money bag around my waste. My friend whispered to me, “We made a mistake by bringing money with us. I think something bad is going to happen”. I shot back: “You bloody Pahari, it was your idea to do this…” He said: “Yeah, but you jumped at it!”….
The girls suddenly took charge and got up. Let’s call meri wali ‘Chameli’. She must have poured a whole bottle of the bad smelling oil on her hair. It was unbearable and disgusting. Chameli ordered me to strip. I said there is no need to, I can just roll my pants down slightly and it will work. She stared at my insolence and said, “abe utaar raha hai ya main utaru?” I was helpless and ambushed!
We both stripped together. Chameli gave me a condom and asked me to put it on. I said: “dekho, mujhe yeh nahi karna hai. Aap paise le lo par hame jaana hai.” They both burst in to laughter and said, “jab tak karoge nahi tab tak yahin band rahoge”! I even offered to double the money, but they had something more sinister in mind.
Gathering every bit of courage and putting mind over matter, I tried but failed at inspiring myself. I kept my eyes closed. There were pimple and marks all over her body and I suddenly felt pity for her. Was she doing this happily? Do her parents know she is into prostitution?.. I was jerked out of my thought process, the reality was growing darker.
She pushed me hard, played with my manhood, bit me but I wasn’t aroused. How could I? She forced me into doing many unpleasant things before Chameli decided to end my physical torture. There was a lot still left.
Violated and abused, I quickly dressed up and we were about to step out when Chameli and her partner in crime pulled us back. “Yeh sab chhod ke jao,” she said, pointing one by one towards my money bag which contained close to five thousand, gold chain and ring, and a sealed packet of Marlboro Lights!
We thought we misunderstood her, but soon realised she meant it. All together, we lost close to 10,000, two gold chains, one gold ring and around 40 Marlboros.
Head hung low, timidly, because I spotted her eyeing my fancy leather shoes, I asked if she could spare us a couple of cigarettes. She was a very kind girl, she obliged. In fact, she demonstrated her large-heartedness by offering us 100 rupees as rickshaw fare. I thanked her for her generosity and moved out in single file, completely trashed!
I tried looking for that tout but he was gone. This was the real world, the big jungle where there are sharks at every bend. The shelter and comfort of school was history. We braced ourselves.
On our way back to the station, we decided against filing a complaint. We took the losses on the chin. The possibility of exposure was too big a risk, but we still felt terrible.
I turned back one last time. Lights were fading away in the distance but GB Road will forever remain etched in my mind. It was baptism by fire.