She was tall almost 5 feet 7 or 8 inches, fair, slim with a good figure. Her name was Mohini. She was the only prostitute of our town in the 70’s and early 80’s. In a small town like ours, she was the talk of the town, women stayed away from her and (many) men visited her surreptitiously.

She was fashionable, wore shades and dressed stylishly in western outfits.  She was referred to as ‘Entu’ or the number 8 – supposedly that’s how she walked. What I remember now is that she walked in a mincing style.

She caused an inexplicable excitement among us children, we were not to even talk about her and that made her an enigma! I still remember Girijakka, the lady who was our help, scolding us, if we even mentioned her in our talk.

Mohini used to live with her only son, about a kilometre away from our house, near a school. I remember my meeting her the first time… and it was a revelation. My childhood friend and I had gone to the school to play and we saw Mohini outside her house. I remember I had greeted her with a smile and what followed was an education of a different kind to 2 young girls from a lady who had seen the worst side of an entire town.

She told us that decent girls (like us) were not to be seen talking to her. She told us about the famous, well known men in our town, who were her customers (without mentioning any names). She laughingly told us, how they avoided her in public. Though we did not fully comprehend it then, it was our introduction to the duality of the world. She had sent us off, warning us not to even mention our interaction with her to our respective families, to avoid us getting into trouble.

I recently heard that she was vacated from her rented house in her old age. That she had no place to stay and used to sleep in a nearby school. Her family (sister) did not provide shelter and Mohini did not have the health nor the means to rent another house. She became mentally unstable and died a sad, lonely death. An end she did not deserve.


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