The blur of the lights was filled with the chill of the August air. The 7.30 PM was wet and damp. I had to make a credit card payment at the Standard Chartered bank’s cheque drop box, at Bangalore’s MG Road. I struggled a while to park. And started walking.

The road was a little wet. I watched for potholes and puddles and kept jumping to seek small islets of pavement or road. As I jumped one more time, I landed just outside a puddle. Pleased with myself, I smiled and looked up. Only to find a a well dressed woman in all evening finery. I thought I saw her wink and smile at me. A little doubtful of what I saw, I looked at her again. This time, I saw her face in a flurry of head beams from cars passing by. She smiled again, moved suggestively at me, And said, ‘banni’. (Come).

It struck me a while later, that I had just been solicited. Not knowing what to do, I kept walking. Fast. Faster. The lady wasn’t following me or anything of that sort. For some odd reason, i kept walking fast. There seemed to be a crowd ahead. As I moved towards the crowd, I saw one more ‘fashionable lady’. I jumped over a few more puddles. Some more ‘fashionable ladies’. I was surprised. To say the least.

I dropped the cheque. Took to the other side of the road, & walked back to the car. Just outside the car, there was a transaction that was on. A middle aged man was bargaining hard with a more ‘fashionable lady’.

“No nothing less than 3000”.

For some reason, my heart was beating fast. Real fast. I don’t know why.

I got into the car. Slipped behind the wheel quickly and cranked the engine. The bargaining was still on. Two more women had joined and I could see they were ‘competing’ oblivious to me. I honked and they moved a little, to give way. I switched the headlamps on and at that precise moment, caught the eye of one of the fashionable ladies. I thought I saw a glint of hope and sadness at the same time. She peered into the windscreen and smiled at me.

I kept a straight face, and pushed the pedal. Amidst all this cacophony, I could hear my heart beat. Loud and clear. As the red lights in the next signal stopped me, I was asking myself, why my heart was beating this hard.

Was it because I hadn’t expected to be solicited in the middle of MG Road at 7.30 in the evening. Was it because I came face to face with a way of life which I knew was a prevalent form of livelihood. Or at the men & women haggling over their bodies. I don’t know. My heart throbbing was obviously inconsequential to the activity which would any which way carry on. And by the way, i am no thumb sucking kid nor do i make any claims of being a straight descendent of Mother Mary!

As the lights turned to amber, I felt bad. Bad for the women, for the livelihood they had to practice. Sad for the men, who had to purchase such temporary releases. It is supposed to be the oldest profession that is there. It still took me by surprise. I wasn’t happy with myself either. In many years, this was the first time that I hadn’t smiled at somebody who smiled at me. I wasn’t sure if I did right or wrong.

The honks behind me got a little louder as I brought my mind back to the road, and noticed that the lights had turned green. I moved on leaving MG Road and the fashionable women and their men behind. I turned on the volume of the radio. The radio jockey was saying something inconsequential. I stared at the road ahead and kept driving.

There was an eerie feeling for company. Not forgetting that look. The look with sadness and hope at the same time.

10 thoughts on “Solicited

  1. scary and sad !! She probably mistook your leap to avoid the puddle as a leap towards her ..

    sorry kavi, jokes apart.. think you handled it pretty well for someone who was in shock!

  2. I could understand your feelings. Quite different post. I have experienced similar things in life. We could only pity those human beings. You did a right thing. Your instinct has made you not to laugh and do not regret since a smile back would have ended up in a different situation.

  3. priya says:

    You can smile, but it depends where you need to smile.
    That was a good one. Some profession never fades coz pp’l go for it and they have no recognition to come and survive too.

  4. Kavi says:

    Sundar: I guess it was a leap of a lifetime !

    Balaji & Priya: Thinking back, i guess a smile would have indeed landed me in a different situation !!

  5. indianangel says:

    Hey nice post! I’ve had a similar experience once in my life when I was in college. I guess it would have happened to most, you had a car to jump in and push the pedal as fast as you can! At that time I only had my strong legs to run like a mad man until I reached home! The most disturbing thing is that there are so many trafficking labours who just do it because of one reason – to fill the stomach! or they were forced into it!

  6. Sometimes it is instinct which takes us out a dicey situation.
    A post written from your heart ,it was really genuine… Well written!
    Your concluding para was superb!


  7. such vivid realism. Amazing recollection. Its the deal with fate, how some a weaker in their souls to sell their outer skin. But they dont sell their soul, so it gathers sadness and never lets go. THis is trully an unexplored area, and you did a difference by writing this. Really good Kavi.

  8. Kavi says:

    Prasanna: I would have run like hell too ! Can imagine !!

    Rashmi: Thanks. It sure was some instinct

    GP: Thanks mate ! Appreciate it.Am heartened that it made a difference. Yes. Thats the deal with fate !

  9. Swatantra says:

    Well written thoughts!! i believe into one thing strongly that these people are more confident and strong at heart than us….

    U handled it in a right way!!

  10. Shiva says:

    Wonderful narration – like Ruskin Bond. Whores, Street Women …. whatever be the name, they fulfill an important void in the society. With proper recognition, it will also prosper as a profession with no middle men sucking blood on both the ends. Have a look at this –

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