“My mother is a sex worker, and the place I call home is GB Road, Delhi’s infamous red light area. I learnt this when I was 13. After months of denying my reality, I decided to open up about it to my school friends. I should’ve known better. If acceptance about my mother took me months, how could I expect them to understand? ‘You’re just like your mother’, they would tell me if I had a fight with them.
“I had her eyes, lips and curly hair, but they didn’t know that. All they knew about her was that she was a prostitute. They weren’t the only ones who abused me in the light of my mother’s profession. I was 14 when a man fondled with my breasts in the middle of a busy road and asked me ‘how much?’ I often saw him in my neighborhood.
“Among other men, there was also a priest who made sexual advances towards me assuming that I wouldn’t protest because I too would sell my body. I have always been a victim of my circumstances.
“It’s not easy to turn over a new leaf; our society is harsh and quick to judge. A school needed an English teacher and called me for an interview. I was very excited at the prospect of getting a dignified job. I woke up much before my alarm went off on the morning of my interview, and took my sweet time to get dressed. I wore my favorite red and black salwar-kameez with a black bindi and black jhumkas. On my way to the school, I visited a temple and prayed for a new beginning with all my heart and soul. I even bought marigold flowers and offered them to Lord Krishna, something that I do only on occasions.
“I was shown the door in barely five minutes of having sat across the school management. When they saw my GB Road address, the two women who were supposed to interview me, stood up and shook hands with me suggesting that I leave. I pleaded with them to at least see my certificates, but they said that won’t be necessary.
“My crime, as way too many people have said way too many times, is that I ‘belong to that place’. My background haunts and threatens me with rejection at every step of my life. It’s not my mistake that I was born to someone who works in a brothel. Nor is it my mother’s mistake.”
Tania Goklany met Patricia (name changed to protect her identity) at the SMS Center for Children of Women in Prostitution on GB Road, Delhi.