Kamala Sarup: My HIV Positive Friend Rita
My HIV Positive Friend Rita
By Kamala Sarup
After returning from the Mumbai red light areas my first meeting with Rita began a very strange day. I have been meeting one person or another each day but for whatever the reason, this day was different. It's not that I am trying to keep this day separate from other days. And I am not trying to interpret this day as a philosopher would about the lives that some people live. Whatever it may be about this day, I am delighted to have met this unnerved woman and she is my friend.
Among the large city of Mumbai, which can be terrifying to look at with its many tall buildings, Rita felt as if everyone who lived there was surfeited. She told me she does not like to remember and that she is buried in her own mind's conflict of her human reality: with a forced obligation she had to sell her body, she did so with an unknown fear – a terror and a fright – which created an empire of its own. She felt restless. And she was disgusted at every moment with the kind of life she was forced to live.
She told me, "Kamala, the notorious whorehouse in Mumbai where I was living was a place where thousands of Nepalese girls like me had to sell their bodies for very little money. Alas, how hard and full of terror was it to live in that environment. When I think of it, my heart trembles. I coped by trying to remember my village. Oh, the mountain, the waterfalls, and the forests that extended far and wide. When I went to the market with my mother we had to cross through those forests, which were quite dangerous. Yet we made these trips because my mother had a dream exactly like my dream: that her daughter receive an education by going to the city, so that she could stand on her own two legs to make a living.
But I was brought to this terrible whorehouse in Mumbai and sold by my own uncle's son.
I was sold for just 20,000 Rupees. I came to know this place was a whorehouse where thousands of Nepalese girls were sold; they were forced to sell their bodies for a small amount of money. This is a place where human vultures spend money to play foul with a girl's raw flesh. Yes, the honor of these girls was ruined for just for a handful of coins. How could I survive in a place such as that? My heart was filled with depression and cankers, but I was unable to express any of my own feelings to others because the trade of females was widespread in the city – from the big lodges to the hotels and to the large yellow mansions. In that place – that brothel – was a bargain of girls who were forced into prostitution and who had inflicted upon them each day unspeakable, despicable deeds. Many sexually parched men quenched their thirst with me every day.
It was a great joke for them – those men – that the rights I had over my own body were snatched away from me. So a question tormented me from time to time: what was it like for other women to live their lives as a woman? I hated my existence as a woman in so many thousands of ways. What a pity! My body was torn and snatched away from me by hundreds of men every day.
When I see the mistresses of the brothel surrounding me each day, I feel inferior. All of the males are hungry to satiate their sexual passions and I feel a strong hatred towards men. But despite the fact that I have been forced to sell my body, I will never forget the man of my imagination who has no name. At least he is different from the other men. Oh, when I came to Katmandu, I had great expectations. I had special thoughts about the man who has no name. In those days, I had fancied a separate sky and the soul and presence of the man who has no name: a life without loneliness and filled with love and compassion.
In those days, many fanciful thoughts danced in my head about this imagined man. But my dreams were shattered and splashed all over in the brothel in Mumbai."
She cried with me.
Nepali Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is an editor
peacejournalism.com. She is specialising in in-depth
reporting and writing on Peace, Anti War, Women, Terrorism,
Democracy, and Development. Some of her publications are:
Women's Empowerment (Booklet). Prevention of trafficking in
women through media,(Book) Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in
for Media Activism (Media research). Two Stories
collections. Her interests include international conflict
resolution, cross-cultural communication, philosophy,
feminism, political, socio-economic and literature. Her
current plans are to move on to humanitarian work in
conflict areas in the near future. She also is experienced
in organizational and community