My Mother, Her Gharwali, Her Maalak and His Wife.
Duration: 01:07:53; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 10.751; Saturation: 0.296; Lightness: 0.197; Volume: 0.073; Cuts per Minute: 0.147; Words per Minute: 132.877
My Mother, Her Gharwali, Her Maalak and His wife.
Conceived by Meena Seshu, Bishakha Datta and Divya Bhatia.
Directed by Sushama Deshpande.
Leena is a woman in prostitution. Leena is also a woman in love with her rickshaw-driver prince, who is suddenly talking about riding off into the sunset – alone. Unless, of course, Leena helps him buy a spanking new rickshaw by giving him a loan of Rs. 25,000. She waits for her lover, and she waits on her customer. Outside in the lane, the arrival of a goonda (thug) causes a flutter. The cop who chases him away, is also chasing a man who lives in the same galli…
‘My Mother, The Gharwali….’ looks at 24 hours in the lives of the people who live in or pass through the galli (street) in which Leena lives. Hear them speak their own stories, talk their own tales and re-imagine their own realities. Meet the usual suspects – the paanpatti wala, the goonda, the children, the regulars. See them as they are. Get involved in their lives – feel overjoyed, indignant, angry, sad and make merry with them. Just remember, what happens here in these 24 hours, happens in their galli everyday.
In March 2004, almost 75 women in prostitution and their teenage sons assembled in Sangli to do a workshop on theatre. None of them had ever acted before. None of them wanted to be performers. All of them wanted to tell their own stories.
The four-day workshop introduced them to the basics of performance: acting, voice, sets, costumes, music, lights, action. It gave them a glimpse into the power of theatre. Although they were not ‘performers’, they instinctively understood that theatre could be a vital ally in representing their own realities - from their own perspectives.
The women took to theatre like straggling ducks learning to swim…a stroke here, a flap there, keep your head above water and forget your fear of drowning. A group of 25 women and their sons formed a theatre group and started performing in their own communities. They rented costumes from local suppliers, rehearsed scenes on their own and took it all quite seriously. So much so that when a group of local thugs asked them to cut out the ‘goonda’ scene, they refused to perform the play.
But it was hard work. How do you learn lines when you don’t know how to read? How do you gather any enthusiasm to rehearse when your colleague is dying of HIV? How do you believe you have a story worth telling when the world keeps telling you you’re worthless? How do you keep on and on swimming against the tide?
My Mother, The Gharwali…is born out of this slow journey of struggle, faith, and discovery.
For reviews see http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/telling-it-like-it-is/324102/
Faint light on stage. Jogans singing Yellamma song enter stage right.
Galli (narrow street) scenario starts (different sounds and songs).
'My Mother, The Gharwali, Her Maalak, His Wife' opens with sex workers - who from the cast - offering prayers to Yellamma, who is worshiped as the goddess (devi) of the fallen. Yellamma is a patron goddess of many marginalized communities, such as dalits, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward castes. In ancient ages, the Yellamma temples were cared for by women known as "devadasis" (which means the servants of gods), who dwelt in the temples and were educated as courtesans or artists. The scene segues into a typical evening in a red-light district.
The young girl, whose mother's story is represented in this production, addresses the audience.
When I was in class three, I was given homework; to write an essay about 'My Mother'. I remember very clearly, I had lied – that my mother does stitching work at home, that she prepares breakfast for me in the morning, that when my dad comes back tired from the office, she greets him with a hot cup of tea.
And today I have been given the same topic again. What shall I say?
My mother stays on the other side of the road, with the rest of the sex workers; and I on the other side, in another house. (Pause) My mother has always kept me away from herself. Earlier I used to feel very sad about this, but now I know the reason. She wanted to keep me away from her work. She wants me to study well, so that I get a good job... that one day I get married, which she could never do.
My mother has brought me up all by herself. She still does the same work, and works hard, so that I get good food, so that I can go to college.
But there's one thing for sure. That childhood essay's first and last lines were very true. The first line was that my mother is very beautiful. The last line was that she loves me with all her heart.
Faint music is heard. The rickshawalla has appeared on stage. There is music playing as Leena, all dressed and ready, walks towards the paanwalla.
Rickshawalla comes to paan stall. Paanwalla is arranging his stuff or maybe wiping and stacking paans. Asks paanwalla for zarda-tambaku of a particular strength, buys a twist which he puts in his pocket.
Rickshawalla (after the transaction's done): Someone is there inside with Leena?
Paanwalla: She's alone. Go inside.
Rickshawalla goes. Or maybe, Leena spots him hanging around the paanwalla, heads back to the house in a huff.
Leena distant. Rickshawalla enters the room quietly and covers Leena's eyes with his hands. She frees herself and looks at him, trying to hide her joy.
Rickshawalla: Wow ! How hot my Leena is looking – like a heroine!
Leena (thrilled but acting petulant): You had said that you'll spend the whole afternoon with me. How late you've come!
Rickshawalla (solemn): You know the reason why do I get late?
Rickshawalla (mischievous): Traffic jam!
Leena: Get away – you are the only one who gets stuck in traffic jam. In this small city, there are no jams.
Rickshawalla: Ai Leena.
Rickshawalla: Come here darling. Sit by my side.
Leena: I won't come.
Rickshawalla: See what I've got for you.
He brings out a gajra from a polythene bag, and a quarter. Holds out the gajra. She comes and sits. He puts the gajra in her hair, then puts an arm around her. She melts and puts her head on his shoulder. He looks troubled, sighs.
Leena: Are you troubled about something?
Rickshawalla: This bitch of a life – I am tired of pulling the damned rickshaw up and down all day.
Leena (loving): I am there to remove all your fatigue. Wait!
She fetches two glasses, pours him a drink and a tiny one for herself. He takes a big swallow.
Rickshawalla: My uncle is calling me to Mumbai. He says I can work as a driver there.
Leena (anxious): You'll go to Mumbai?!
Rickshawalla: How can I leave my Leena and go away? I am sticking around here only because of you. I think I shall earn some money, marry you, and then we'll go to Mumbai together.
Leena: Will you really marry me? Are you serious?
Rickshawalla: You don't trust me?
Leena: That's not the thing. But you would not be the first man to make false promises to me.
Rickshawalla (reproachful): What Leena, you think I am like the others?
Leena (contrite): Oh, you got hurt! I sometimes feel scared, that's all. But to trust you! Anyways, say what you are saying.
Rickshawalla: I feel like leaving this rented rickshaw, which is in tatters anyway, and buy my own new one. This is one solution; the other is to go and earn in Mumbai and come back.
Leena: Don't give me a heart attack by saying all this. You stay here, near me – buy a new rickshaw and earn a lot of money.
Rickshawalla: But I don't have any money right now. A couple of months later, my father's fixed deposit will mature and he has said he will give me the money. But till then…something can be done.
Rickshawalla: If you wish, you can help me.
Leena: Me? What kind of help?
Rickshawalla: You will help me no? For the sake of both of us?
Leena: Why don't you tell me clearly what the matter is!
Rickshawalla: Leena, lend me some money. Once my father gives me the money, I'll return you.
Leena: How much money do you need?
Rickshawalla: Hmm..around thirty five thousand.
Leena: Thirty five thousand! Have you gone mad? Will that much money fall from the heavens in my lap?
Rickshawalla: Well you earn, don't you?
Leena: Where do I earn? Twenty five rupees is mine, and twenty five of the land-lady. But because of you, when do I work? When she questions me, I sometimes pretend that I have a headache, sometimes tell her that my periods are on.
Rickshawalla: Then there is no way. I'll have to go to Mumbai and try my luck.
Starts to get up, all depressed. Leena tugs his arm.
Leena: Okay , wait a minute!
He stops, hopeful.
Leena: Listen, do one thing. I have to entertain the clients now, so you come later. I will do something about the money.
He embraces her. She responds, then pushes him away as gharwali calls.
Gharwali: Ai Leena!
Leena: Coming, Ma.
Leena: Now you go, if the gharwali sees me with you, I'll have to listen to ten random things.
Leena sees off her rickshawalla. He stops at the paanwalla to light a cigarette, walks off. Her eyes follow him, and she doesn't see the other guy hovering nearby, waiting to catch her eye.
Paanwalla: She gives you so much importance that she came to see you off till outside? You are just a ricksawalla, not a car owner!
Leena: O you dealer in betel, don't show your dirty mettle. Mind your own business. Understood?
Paanwalla: Understood, understood. I am applying paste to betel leaves, you do apply it to him. (Jerks his chin to indicate the waiting customer)—See how he's been staring at you since eternity.
Leena turns and sees the customer who's hanging around. On seeing her look his way at last, he brightens and comes towards her. She looks quizzical.
Regular: Did you not recognize me?
She stares at him, then half-smiles.
Leena: Oh it's you? How did you remember this street after all this time?
Regular: I remember the street and I remember you, Bindu! I had gone to my village for four months.
Leena: You have your wife and kids at the village?
Regular: No, my mother and father are there.
Leena (archly): You did not marry?
Regular: What do I do? No one captures my fancy.
Leena: Hmm. So will you stand outside and keep chattering or will you come inside?
Regular: Let's go inside.
They go inside, as the song Aaiye Meherbaan fades in.
Regular: You know, even when I was at my village, I used to remember you.
Leena: Why are you flattering me?
Regular: I swear by my mother!
Leena (suddenly serious): Don't swear by your mother.
Regular: Okay, then I swear by you!
Leena: Ya, that is okay.
Regular: You don't believe that I used to remember you? (He brings out condoms from his pocket). See, I remember everything about you. This is for me, and …this for you.
Brings out jhumkas for her. She takes them, holds them up for a moment and keeps them aside.
Regular: Do you like them?
Leena: Yeah well, but a gift is a gift, and money is money. Is that clear to you?
Regular: When did I say I will not pay? Now show me how you look in these earrings.
Leena: I'll wear it tomorrow and show how I look. Now let's go inside you fool.
(Black out – music starts as both go inside. The song continues)
This scene starts off as a typical encounter between Leena, a prostitute and her client, but as it gathers momentum, the rickshawwala turns out to be her lover. He taps her for a sizeable loan to buy an autorickshaw; the gharwali's voice is heard off stage and a client arrives. Leena takes him into her room.
A typical brothel scene with the economics of prostitution coming to the fore as the gharwali arrives to settle accounts with the women. A group of young men and transgenders hang out with the women; talk veers around to Baina, a settlement in Goa where houses of prostitutes have been demolished.
Sex workers (including Leena) wait in the outer area. They're putting the finishing touches to their make up as they talk.
Madhu: How is my new lipstick?
Sonia (new girl): It's good.
Madhu: Take it, you also use it. Come on now, take it!
Sharda: Come on everyone, get ready quickly. Otherwise the gharwali will come and start screaming…
Leena: "Ai, Leena Madhu Sharda! Hurry up with your makeup! It's time to work…"
Madhu: She wants everything quick, only that while making payments she falls sick. When it comes to paying, she would keep playing cards for hours and she'd keep saying "Ya Ya just now"
Sharda: When it comes to paying, she gets screwed. Here you have to beg for what you have earned by your work.
Leena: Our gharwali is still okay. At least, she doesn't fudge the accounts. That maushi (aunty) in the neighbourhood is such a ...
Madhu (interrupts): Shhh!
Gharwalis enter, Gharwali 1 carrying accounts box.
Gharwali 1: Hurry up with your makeup. It's time for work.
The sex workers exchange smiles.
Gharwali: Come on Madhu, tell me, how many did you get yesterday?
Madhu: Seven customers, Ma. Blue bangles.
Gharwali (counts out seven blue bangles): Fine, 7 would mean 350, of that yours is 175…(consults a scrawled chit) two days' food and drink is for 45, so 130 is left. Here, take it. Leena?
Leena: Red bangles, Ma!
Gharwali 1 (looks): Just three?
Leena: I wasn't feeling well yesterday.
Gharwali: If you are not fine, go to a dispensary. (Sudden apprehension) What is your disease? Do you make sure that everyone uses condoms?
Leena: Ya Ma, There's nothing like that. Don't worry.
Gharwali: Here, take your 60. And this is Sharda's 5….which means 125…20 to be deducted…take 105. (Looks at Sonia, new girl)…Do you understand? From today, you have to follow the same procedure. You have to put every customer's money with one bangle in this box. What's the colour of your bangles?
Sonia (shows her wrist): Peeli. (Yellow)
hree young boys enter with glasses of tea, They give everyone a glass each.
Gharwali (repeats casually, as one does to confirm): Peeli?
Youth 1 (Sohan): Kya peeli? (What did you drink?)
(Two MSM enter)
Youth 2 (Ramesh): We also brought tea!
Vikku: Aunty is drunk on liquor?!
Gharwali: Wait a minute and I'll…
(She makes a mock slapping gesture, or maybe tweaks his ear, and Vikku ducks/ pulls away laughingly)
Madhu (sipping): What fine tea with ginger in it!
Sohan: What, aunty! Let the customers come and we will treat them to tea too!
Vikku: I am a customer! I don't want tea! I want liquor and I want a girl!(All laugh)
Ramesh: You want a girl? Since when did you start behaving like this, Vikku?
(Vikku pouts and everyone is laughing loudly except Gharwali 2)
Leena: Today, the maushi next door looks very quiet. Maushi, all well with health and wealth?
Gharwali 1: Arre, she is worried about her sister Lakshmi. The municipality is going to carry out demolitions in Baina.
Gharwali 2 (interrupting): I had sent Naina there to find out all that's happening there, but there's been no news from her for the past three days. (Calls out) Oye paanpatti (Trader in betel leaves)
Panpatti wala: What's it maushi?
Gharwali 2: Have you got a call from the Naina of my house?
Panpatti wala (finds a newspaper and opens it as he talks):
Well, I have received no calls, but there's some news in today's newspaper – I was just going to tell you. Where did it go….yes, here!
(Two boys go away, both gharwalis and Ramesh go to Paanwalla, and two boys again join them. )
"It's just been a few days since the government of Goa demolished several houses in the ghetto in Baina, despite the heavy rains. The dwellers of these ghettos were deemed illegal, and the dwellers in them were dubbed as illegal immigrants. However,our investigations show that several inhabitants have been staying here for many years. Despite the fact that they had ration cards and papers of their houses, their little dwellings were razed in front of their eyes.
Gharwali 1: The better thing was to kill all the poor. Is this a government, or what is it? It seems that there are more goons within their system than outside it.
Gharwali 2:The curse of Shani on me is in its prime.
Ramesh: (under his breath): Take the name of the devil, and the devil is here. See, here comes the spoon/sidekick of the don.
Sohan: (under his breath): But the spoon's forgotten to bring his fork and knife along.
Goondas are part and parcel of every red-light district and this one's no different. He tries to get his cut, eyes out the new woman on the block, and threatens to take her if he is not paid off. A cop suddenly arrives, a startled customer runs out of the brothel, the goonda is forced to leave, and the cop eyes Vikku, a young transgender. Soon it's back to business as usual - some of them look for customers while plans are made to go see a movie. Leena stays back, claiming she has a headache.
The Goonda swaggers in.
Goonda: Maushi (aunty), namaskar!
Gharwali 1 (not too pleased): Namaskar baba, how are you?
Goonda: First class, first class. The next-door maushi (aunty) is also here- wow what a gathering! Namaskar maushi!
Gharwali 2 (curt): Namaskar.
Goonda: Won't anyone ask me for a cup of tea?
Gharwali 1 (to youth 2): O baba, get some tea for the guest. (winks at the youth, who nods in understanding and leaves)
(to goonda): Sit, why are you standing?
Goonda: I am checking out – the new girl.
Sex worker 2, the new girl, cringes, afraid.
Goonda: Don't be scared! I won't do anything to you – aunty will give me my dues, and I'll go away quietly.
Gharwali 1: Bloody! Dues for what?
Goonda: For whatever you're earning through this new girl. I don't want much…just a thousand rupees.
Gharwali 1: What for? Did you bring her here? Has a mad dog bitten me that I'll give you so much money?
Goonda: If I don't get the money, the girl goes with me.
He yanks the girl by the arm but the MSM protects her and holds her back. Goonda shoves MSM.
Goonda: Don't act smart! Or I'll take you inside instead of her, son of a bitch!
Gharwali 1: Inside you will go bastard, let the police come.
Goonda: The police can't touch me. I am Guddu Bhai's man.
Gharwali 1: Ai…. Have you brought the tea?
Ramesh : Yes, Ma, the tea-seller is coming.
The cop enters.
Cop: What's happening here? Who is creating a ruckus?
Gharwali 1: Sahib, this street-side goonda is threatening us, and trying to lay his hands on the girls here.
Cop (twirling his stick): You sucker, get out of here! Run!
Goonda tries to hold his own.
Goonda: Think and talk; there is Guddu bhai's hand over my head.
Cop (threatening gesture, and raised voice): Well your head may soon be smashed by my baton if you mess around. Just get lost from here! Fast!
Goonda gives a dirty look all around and leaves.
Hearing the commotion and fearing it's a raid, a customer runs out in his shorts and vest, and the sex worker he was with joins the group, irritated.
Gharwali 1: Didn't you take the money at the beginning?
Sex worker 3 (realizing it's not a bad deal after all, smiles): Ya, I took the money from him. (remembering) O how scared the poor man got! He started shaking all over. (imitates, exaggeratedly) "It's a police raid. I'll get caught. My wife will get to know." Bloody coward!
They all laugh uproariously. Through the recent exchange, the cop has been eyeing the MSM leeringly, and the MSM has been cowering and avoiding his gaze.
Cop: I was thinking I have seen you somewhere! What adornments and make up you have when you are among women! And another image in plain trousers and shirts when you are at the bus stand.
MSM cringes, doesn't look at cop or reply.
Cop: Okay, I'll go on my round now and come back in a while. If that bloody goonda is hanging around, I'll give him a taste of some bitter medicine.
He leaves. Gharwali 2 also gets up.
Gharwali 2: I am tense about Baina and business here is also on a low. Let's all go and watch a film.
All the women except Leena get up, agreeing enthusiastically, suggesting different films.
Gharwali 1: If we go to the movie today, it shall mean you all will have to work twice the amount of regular, tomorrow…Who is sitting to feed us?
Sohan: Who is sitting to get us drunk??!!! (Three boys come forward and Laughter)
Gharwali 1: Leena, you will not come?
Leena: No, I don't feel like.
Sharda: O come on Leena. Today, Ma is taking us all.
Madhu: Ya Leena, come along. We'll have popcorn too.
Leena: No, you guys go. I have a headache.
Gharwali 1: These days she gets her head aches a lot. Come, we'll go eat popcorn.
Leena: I will be fine in some time. Till you all come back, I shall chat with the boys around here.
Amid more laughter, the movie gang leaves.
Leena, a woman in prostitution shoots the breeze with young men and Vikku, a transgender youth in the red-light district. They touch on what it means to be transgender, and how children of sex workers are stigmatized in school. Leena feels her daughter must be facing a similar ordeal in school.
Vikku fingers Leena's sari pallu admiringly. She smiles at him.
Leena: Vikku do you like the sari?
Vikku: The sari is good and the earrings are also lovely. Where did you get them from?
Leena: A customer gave them to me.
Vikku: Hai! Tell him to get something for me too!
Sohan: Ya ya, tell him that you have a friend – but can't sit with him! For she is now married!
Ramesh: Ai Vikku, you married a woman?
Vikku: Then what? Should I have married you?
Sohan: Arre this one is a woman, and a woman's husband too.
Jiski pati Vikram uska bhi bada naam hai/ Saamne bitha do/ saamne bitha do aaine ka kya kaam hai!( all three boys sing and dance together, to the tune of a popular Bollywood number)
(The one whose husband has Vikram as his name
That woman has a lot of fame
For she does not need a mirror
When the husband sits in front of her.)
Vikku: Leena, see these scoundrels are teasing me.
Leena scolds the two young men.
Leena: Why are you guys after her life? You do not have any other work?
Sohan: We do not have either work or business.
Ramesh: Unless we join a job, where is there any work for us?
Vikku: You guys tease me that I got married – but you …no one will give you a job, neither will anyone give you their girl.
Sohan: You bloody…
The three youths move in for a mock attack and the MSM eludes them as they close in—he runs and they chase him, going round in a circle. Finally, MSM hides behind Leena, clutching her for help and support.
Sohan: Arre Leena ask him if he wears his wife's sari by mistake at times.
Ramesh: If he does that, she will throw him out.
Vikku: Like the teacher had thrown you out of the class? At least, I don't have to face that problem.
Leena: He was thrown out of the class? Why?
School scene : The guys get up to enact the flashback. Leena sits and watches in amazement as the MSM and Youth 1 sit cross-legged next to each other as though in school and a master enters and takes them through their lessons. Youth 2 enters late and is about to sit when the master yells at him.
Master: Ai Ramesh! You come late every day. This is not happening. Ask your father to come and meet me.
Ramesh: I don't have a father.
Master: Don't have a father? Has he gone to heaven?
Ramesh: I don't know.
The other "kids" snigger.
Master: Idiot! Go and stand outside the class! And ask your mother to come and meet me.
Ramesh stands "outside" with his back to the others, while the other two guys remain seated, sniggering away. The master stalks out in a huff.
Ma: Arrey o master! What happened? Why did you ask the kid to get his father?
Master: But one has to register the father's name
Ma: Why can't you write the mother's name on the register? Can't a kid learn on a mother's name? Why not?
Master: Alright. Send him school on time, his studies are suffering because he comes late.
Master: Do you want him to learn how to read and write or not?
Ma: No no he must learn how to write letters. We are sex workers , still we also hope that our sons study, and do some decent work. Is it not?
Master: Then send him on time.
Ma: We do our work till two o'clock. Then we make the kids sleep, and only after that we sleep. But the kids don't wake up early. Now you have to do something and teach these kids. I fold my hands, fall on my knees. See, you have to handle my kid somehow.
(Ma leaves)(Teacher continues teaching numbers. Bell rings)
Sohan (stage whisper): Did you understand the meaning of 'I don't have a father'?
Vikku (stage whisper): Ya I understood! His mother is involved in sex work, isn't it?
Both guys shake their heads in mock disgust.
The bell rings – end of scene
Leena: This is what must be happening to my Gudiya (daughter) in school as well.
Ai, where does your father work? Ai, why doesn't your mom ever come to pick you up? Ai, where do you stay? (pause) The first questions were these.
Then I was asked …Ai, won't you call us home on your birthday?
Then the questioning ceased, and behind-the-back whispers commenced. (In stage whispers) Ai, do you know, she doesn't even know the name of her father! Ai, do you know, her mother is a prostitute! Ai, don't eat from her tiffin – you may get AIDS.
When I told Ma that I won't go to that school any longer, then she admitted me to this new school.
Till not, nobody knows here who I am. I will try that they never get to know. Not because I feel ashamed, but because they will feel ashamed.
I don't know why, but my brother hates our mother. He says that she has spoilt our lives. (pause) I don't believe this. Ma has just given us life – to spoil it or make good use of it, that is upon us.
For me, Ma is not a sex worker, she is just Ma.
Leena's daughter directly addresses the audience: she talks about the stigma she faces at school as the daughter of a sex worker.
The cop returns.
Cop: Ho! Where has everyone vanished?
Sohan: To see a movie, sir.
Cop: Good to go out and roam around! (looking at MSM, tone changes): Will you go home now?
Vikku: Not now, later.
Cop: I am going that way only – come, we'll go together.
Vikku: I told you.I don't have to go now.
Cop: O-ho! You're acting pricey!
MSM: I am not acting pricey, but are you trying to force me?
Leena: Leave him alone, sahib.
Cop: Why are you speaking in between? For your sake, I shooed the goonda away, but it seems that there is no respect for me here.
Leena: Sahib, it's nothing like that. We respect you a lot.
Cop: He talks in a loud voice with me – is that a show of respect? I told him, let's go together – did I say anything wrong?
Vikku: Leena, I do not like his company.
Leena: Sahib, everyone here is the ruler of his own will. Whatever he wills, that's what he will do, isn't it?
Sohan: Don't take tension Vikku. Don't go if you don't want to go.
Sachin : Don't go!
Cop: Achha! So everyone is a sidekick of everyone here! Once the work is done, you have decided to keep away from me. I shall deal with all you prostitutes – inside the lock-up.
He storms out. Vikku starts sobbing.
Vikku: Because of me, all of you will be tormented by this bloody motherfucker policeman.
Leena: What are you taking tension? This is part and parcel of our daily life.
Sohan: Maushi has 'settings' in the right places – nothing will happen to anyone.
Sachin : Nothing will happen.
Ramesh: That's true, my Ma will do something. But why did you refuse him Vikku? Why invite the ire of a policeman at all?
He takes my -. … I am scared of him. Two times he forcibly took me to the lodge – and the bloody swindler did not even give me any money.
Sohan: If he bothers you ever again, tell me!
Sachin : Tell me too
Ramesh: We will run a knife through his bloody…
Sachin: We'll tear his …
Leena: Ai, shut up. Don't talk about dangerous things like knife and all. You guys know well, if anyone here does any mischief, all of us will rot inside.
Sohan: Alright, alright! Let's go, Ramesh.
Ramesh: Let's go.
The two youth leave. Vikku starts sobbing again.
Leena: Arre, stop crying now! That policeman won't be able to harm you. We are there to take care of you.
Vikku: Any random person tries to force me! They abuse me! Am I a street dog? You all stay together and indulge in your trade openly. This area itself is all yours. If anyone does any mischief, the gharwali will deal with him.
Leena: At least you are with your family, think about that. I have died a hundred times pining for my mother, father, brother, sister. Once I got to know that my sister was getting married; the groom's side was asking for too much money. I cut down on the needs of my children and sent fifteen thousand rupees. My father kept the money, but did not even send the wedding card to me.
Vikku: If your family is not with you, then it's painful; and even if they are there, it's difficult. Arre what's the point of having such a family life? All the time I have to live with secrets and lies. Ma forcibly got me married. Now I am unhappy, and the poor girl's life got spoilt as well.
Leena: So why did you have to get married?
Vikku: Who listens to me? Even in sex, you guys have your will – what to do, and what not to do. But in my case, the customer will beat me up, abuse me, refuse to use condom, and even then I can't open my mouth.
Leena: Everyone is not bad, Viku. You will also get someone nice.
Vikku: Will I really get someone nice?
Leena: Why not, re? For every person, there is someone special in this world. Like me, you will also get real love.
Vikku: Who is your real love?
Leena: There is someone. He drives the rickshaw. Don't tell Ma, do you get it? It's a secret.
Vikku: Why will I tell mavshi? (pause) He loves you a lot?
Leena: He loves me madly.
Leena: He says he'll marry me and take me to Mumbai.
They sit musingly, lost in romantic dreams with half-smiles on their faces. Rickshawalla comes in softly and stands at the edge. Leena sees him and gestures to him to wait. Vikku sees, pushes her playfully. She puts her finger on her lips, Vikku nods in assent, she gets up and gets a bundle from her cupboard. They talk, out of Vikku's earshot.
Leena: This is 25,000 – the gharwali does not know about it. You will return it soon, na?
Rickshawalla: Yes, yes. Don't worry, I'll give it back very soon.(She gives him the money)
Leena: If you go and spend the money on some other woman, I'll beat you black and blue!
Rickshawalla: What are you saying? There is no other than you.
Leena: So you'll come tomorrow afternoon, na?
Rickshawalla: I'll come dear! How can I do without meeting you?
He hurries away. Leena returns to sit next to Vikku as before.
The other sex workers are at the movies. As leena, Vikku, and a group of young men sit around,c hatting, the policeman reappears. Turns out he wants his pound of flesh for driving the goonda away - in te form of Vikku, a transgender. Vikku refuses to go with him and says the cop has slept with him before without paying him. The cop leaves threatening revenge. Leena's lover, the rickshawwalla, returns to get his loan from Leena.
The gharwalis and other sex workers make a noisy drunken laughter-filled entry. It's still a darkened space.
Gharwali 1: It was great fun today.
Madhu: What a blast we had, I swear!
Sharda: You know what was the funniest thing? Maushi's snoring!(makes snoring sounds)
Gharwali 2: Get lost – you'll get one tight slap! Arre, switch on the bulb.
As the lights fade up again, they see Leena standing alone as if in a trance, and the MSM sitting all quiet.
Mahadevi(MSM): Why are you two sitting with sullen faces? What's happening?
Leena: A policeman came and threatened us a while back.
Gharwali 1: Which bastard policeman threatened you?
Leena: The same guy who had made the goonda run away from here. He is besotted by Vikku but Vikku is afraid of him. He refused to go with him, and he threatened us that he will fix us all.
Vikku: I am feeling scared, maushi – let me sleep here only tonight. I have called up at home to say I am at a friend's place.
Gharwali 1: You used to go with my son to the school – will I ask you to leave? Stay here. Be it police or police's uncle, I don't fear anyone. Smile! Ai Madhu, Sharda, Sonia – pour beer into everyone's glasses, and get something to eat!
(The younger women get busy serving drinks and snacks)
The other sex workers return from the movies and hear about the policeman threatening Vikku. Vikku is scared and stays the night in the brothel.
Everyone's settled down to eat, drink and party.
Leena: What movie did you guys see?
Gharwali 2: That Shahrukh Khan film, Chhakka Laga De.
Vikku: It's not Chhakka Laga De maushi, it is Chak De. Chak De!
Leena: Was it a nice film?
Sharda: It's a fun film, they have shown many girls in that film, how they play hockey.
Sonia: Then they go to foreign (country) and win the world cup! We were watching with our mouths agape, but maushi fell asleep.
Madhu: Maushi's mouth was also open, but she was snoring!
Gharwali2: I don't like all this hockey, kirkit (cricket), baba. A film must have some love story, some songs.
Sharda: What maushi, that's there in all films. But having seen this film, I also feel like playing hockey, and make India win.
Gharwali 1: Leave it! Where is our life, and where these movie girls – like earth and sky!
Sharada: Our maushi had slept in that film also, isn't it – which one was it – Bunty Aur Babli.
Sonia: But Aishwarya danced very well in that one.
Mahadevi : Ya Ya, it was good. Maushi, let us have some good time-pass. I will become Aishwarya, and you two (tapping them playfully) are Abhishek and Amitabh. (Asks Sachin to play Dholak and paanwalla to sing)
MSM 3: No no, we are all Aishwarya.
Madhu: Then remove this dupatta. When does Aishwarya wear it?
Mahadevi: That is why they were all whistling inside the cinema hall – bloody men!
Mahadevi and sex workers start dancing as they sing Kajrare kajrare. They make Leena and finally the gharwalis get up and join in.
The sex workers discuss the movie the just saw in a playful scene which culminate in singing and dancing.
The cop - rejected by Vikku - raids the brothel in revenge. As customers flee and sex workers are arrested, the gharwali calls up her maalak, a lawyer, who is at home having dinner with his wife. Their domesticity makes an interesting counterpoint to the chaos of the red-light district; the maalak agrees go to the police station, despite his hovering wife who reminds him that there are prayers at the house the next morning.
The cop bursts in.
Cop: Ai! Shut this song and dance. ( All of them run helter skelter)
Cop: All girls are hereby arrested under the clause number 8. Come on!
Leena: But we haven't done anything. We have been sitting at home lazing around all evening.
Cop: You fool poor customers and catch them in your net on the roads, and then you say "we have been lazing around." Now laze around in the lock-up. Come on now all girls.
They start to move, except the MSM.
Cop: You too! Why are you watching my face, you will also come.
They go, and the gharwali comes to the paan patti walla.
Gharwali: Just call him up and tell him.
Paanwalla: He must be home this time. It's too late in the night.
Gharwali: That's why I have come to you.
The paanwalla nods. Lights dim.
Lights fade up on the gharwali's maalak and maalak's wife at home. He's eating as she serves.
Wife: Shall I serve you more vegetable?
Maalak: No, thanks.
Wife: If you come home this late and eat, your appetite will naturally die. Or have you had something to eat there already?
Wife: Don't act innocent. Did you not go there?
Malak: There there there! No, I had not gone "there". I had gone for the hearing of Govind Tamde's case. Was sitting with him. Now can I eat in peace?
Wife: There are the prayers in the morning, you remember, no?
Just then his mobile rings and he answers. Paanwalla enters at the periphery—a parallel space—as the caller.
Maalak: Who is it?
Paanwalla: Namaste sahib, I am the paanwalla, from near mavshi's house.
Maalak : What is it? Why have you called up so late at night?
Paanwalla: Sahib, a policeman has framed Leena in a false case and taken her to the lock up along with a guy.
Maalak: All this keeps happening, what can I do about it?
Paanwalla looks helplessly at gharwali, who grabs the phone from him and speaks.
Gharwali: It's me here.
Maalak smiles sheepishly and becomes suddenly compliant. His wife is watching suspiciously and her frown deepens as he talks.
Maalak: Arre, what's the matter? Something wrong there?
Gharwali: Nothing wrong, even the business was shut today evening. But the policeman had some grudge to settle. In the morning, before the matter goes to the court, you come over.
Gharwali: Police station.
Gharwali: Don't be evasive. Is your wife next to you? This is a prestige issue for me, if you can't come, tell me straight away.
Maalak is silent for a moment.
Maalak: Alright, I will come.
Puts down phone. Wife has been listening with sulky expression.
Wife: Whose phone was it? Where do you have to go early in the morning?
Maalak: Just like that, there's some work.
Wife: But in the morning, there is the puja at home. You had promised you'll be there.
Maalak: Yes yes I had said, but there's some urgent work.
There's a pause. She looks at him accusingly.
Wife: It was a call from 'there', isn't it? Why have they called you early in the morning?
Maalak: I can't tell each and every detail of my work.
Wife: What do you get there? Haan? They have become more important than even the puja at home?
Maalak: Keep some prasad for me.
Wife: Tomorrow is a holiday. Won't you eat at home in the afternoon?
Maalak: Can't say.
Leena's daughter addresses the audience, discussing how she feels about gharwalis.
My mother's mother is not my grandmother. Ma calls her Ma, the neighbours call her maushi (aunty), and others know her by the name of gharwali.
Where my actual Nani is, who she is, whether she is alive, who knows? The mother who gave birth to my mother, made her leave the house. At that time, my brother was in my mother's womb. How my mother reached gharwali, I have no clue, but after brother's birth, she kept them both in her house. Then Ma also got into the trade.
I am a girl, so Ma kept me in another house from the beginning. That's why I haven't met gharwali too often. Whenever she sees me, she just scolds me – what dry and fuzzy hair she's got, how much does this girl shout, how this girl keeps sitting around with her nose inside her books. For a long time, I was just scared of her.
Then once when I had gone to meet my mother, one customer was trying to force me. Gharwali gave him a tight slap and threw him out. Over and above this, she abused in him such words that I cannot retell. From then, I started holding the gharwali in regard.
I know that all of them are not so nice. But then all people are also not nice.
May be Ma also becomes a gharwali one day. In future, this will be the easiest way to earn a living. (pause) But I do not want that this should happen.
The classic police station scene, with the women chastely standing by, with pallus covering their heads. They are accused of soliciting, which is a crime in India under Section 8 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956. The maalak, a lawyer, uses his police contacts and pays a bribe to get the women off.
The maalak has entered quietly.
Maalak: What's the matter inspector? Who is bothering you early in the morning?
PSI : Vakil(lawyer) saheb, you here?
Maalak: Namaste Inspector saheb!
PSI : Namaste! Please say, what can I do for you?
Maalak: I had come nearby for some work. I thought it's been a long time, so came to ask about your well being. Haven't we been friends for a long time now?
PSI: That's true. Samant, ask for a cup of tea for vakil (lawyer) sahib.
Maalak: No let it be, some other time. (glances around casually) Who are these people?
PSI: You go everywhere, sahib, must have seen them too somewhere? They are prostitutes, and were doing their stuff openly.
Leena to maalak: Saheb please help us, all these are lies…
Maalak hastily turns away.
Maalak to PSI: They look like small people, why would you want to spoil the auspicious day of Shivratri by dealing with them? Ask them to beg for forgiveness, and leave them.
PSI: It's not so easy. They have been detained under the clause number 8. The report has also been made. The report will have to be acted upon now.
Vikku: We were just sitting at the house. I had refused to go with Samant hawaldar, and that's why he is taking revenge.
Maalak: Are you saying the truth? To accuse a policeman of such a thing, is a very big thing.
Leena: Forgive him sahib. There has been some misunderstanding.
Maalak: You know how his name can be spoilt due to a misunderstanding? Inspector, leave them all, the accusation against your policeman will also be buried here.
PSI: It's a difficult thing to do. The report will have to be cancelled, and I will have to say something to my boss.
Maalak (pulls out his phone and mutters): Is there a problem with the signal? I'll just come back in a minute.
Maalak goes out – mobile rings - and has a hasty conference with gharwali.
Maalak: He will take money, but it seems the work will be done.
Gharwali gives him a 500 rupee note.
Maalak: I don't think he will agree in less than a thousand, he is a sub-inspector.
Gharwali reluctantly gives him one more 500 rupee note, with a sour face.
Gharwali: Bloody scoundrels, these policemen.
Maalak goes back in.
Maalak: Inspector, let them go, the accusation against your hawaldar will also get buried here.
Maalak takes out wallet, puts 1000 rupees in PSI's pocket so even Samant doesn't see. PSI turns away, checks the money surreptitiously and turns back.
PSI: Understood sahib, if you are saying, I'll bury the case here itself. Samant, let them go.
PSI: Samant! Do as I say. By getting into a scuffle with these small people, we are wasting our own time. And you better control your lust!
He looks coldly at the cop, who cringes and hangs his head for his boss's benefit, then grimaces and clenches his fists.
Maalak: Alright, Inspector! Namaste.
Back at the brothel. The gharwali invites the maalak to an evening meal to thank him for getting the women out of jail. Leena tries to call her lover but his phone is switched off. Preparations for singing and dancing.
Leena: Ma, today sahib saved us.
Gharwali (sour): But the money spent was mine. One thousand. Now you have to earn and give it back to me.
They digest this. But Vikku is still pleased.
Vikku: Finally that hawaldar was deflated.
Gharwali: Just for now. God knows what these policemen will do in the future.
Maalak: I'll go now. I'll meet you in the evening.
Gharwali: No, you'll have to come with me – I have cooked mutton for you. And then the girls will do a special program. Ai, you all will do it, na?
Sex workers: Haan! Chaliye na saheb! (They all go together)
Maalak arrives. General cheer.
Leena hurriedly approaches paanwalla.
Leena: Ai, had he come?
Paanwalla: Your rickshawalla? No one has come here since morning.
She's silent for a moment, looks sad.
Paanwalla: Here, have a paan. Come on take it, it's for free.
Leena waves away the paan, preoccupied.
Paanwalla: Arre you escaped going to the court. You could even have been jailed! You should be happy. I have heard mavshi is cooking mutton. There's a party tonight?
Leena (doesn't reply, but takes out a folded slip of paper from her blouse): Please dial this number.
Paanwalla punches number, listens, shakes his head.
Paanwalla: Either it is switched off or out of range.
Paanwalla: Meaning out of this town.
Leena: Can't be outside town, try one more time.
He tries again, shakes his head again.
Paanwalla: Not getting through (then to assuage her anxiety) The battery must be discharged.
Leena (relieved): Ya battery must be discharged. I will come again in a while.
She goes. Maalak settles down, the gharwali by his side, and the others take up their positions. As the couple watches appreciatively, the women and men perform a song and dance.
Gharwali : Ai!.. someone play the dhol
The women sing the Condom Song with the men initially refusing - but then coming around. The song is done like a jugalbandi to the tune of a popular Bollywood song with a sawal-jawab between the women and men.
Thinking we are sex workers
Don't mess with us
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
Wear a condom wear a condom
Don't worry honey
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
With my wife I shall never
Wear a condom re!
Won't wear a condom! Condom condom!
There's no fun this way
I know this for sure
Won't wear! Condom condom!
Save your wife, save your kids
Save yourself re
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
For few moments of fun
Could be a punishment for lifetime
Wear a condom! Condom condom !
I don't know, I don't believe
Why do you bother me
I won't wear! Condom condom!
There must be someone who'll listen to me
Why do you stop my way
Won't wear! Condom condom!
To you, me, her and everyone
Life is dear re
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
Try it dear, at least AIDS you fear
It's a deadly disease re
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
Ok baba get it, get it
Let me try it
Bring a condom! Condom condom!
If it doesn't suit
I'll boot it out
Bring a condom! Condom condom!
You'll get value for money
Then go home honey
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
Today you take from me
But bring one tomorrow re
Wear a condom! Condom condom!
I wore it, and had great fun
Now it's sunk in my head
I will wear a condom! Condom condom!
It is good for all of us
It is in our interest
I will wear a condom! Condom condom!
Condom condom! Condom condom!
Condom condom! Condom condom!
The maalak takes out a bundle of notes, waves it over the group of dancers and drops it in the gharwali's lap.
Sex worker 1: Arre Naina, when did you come?
Leena: We were talking about you today only.
Other gharwali: Lakshmibai, what state are you in?
New girl (softly asks sex worker 1): Who are these two?
Sex worker 1 (softly explains): This is our Naina, works in the next-door mavshi's house, and that is mavshi's sister Lakshmibai – stays near Goa, in Baina. There all houses have been demolished.
MSM: There's something every day in the newspapers – what's the state of affairs in Baina now?
Finally Gharwali 2 speaks.
Gharwali 2: Naina, you do not call up even one day ever since you left.
Naina: What could I have said on the phone!
Gharwali 1: Arre what happened, at least now you can tell.
Naina: There everyone's come on the road. It's raining and there is no roof over anyone's head. They broke each and every house, and threw the belongings or took them away – bloody thieves. From that day till today, there's been neither food, nor water. Everyone's dying of hunger and falling to disease. I made arrangements for meals of 75 people - for women who are in our trade, and for their children. But they have to hide and eat – otherwise the goondas snatch it away and beat up people without any reason.
Here Naina looks at Lakshmi and cannot go on. Lakshmi is stone-faced.
Naina: Lakshmibai's daughter came under the bulldozer. We took her to the hospital but she could not be saved.
General shock and murmurs of sympathy.
MSM : Why does all this happen? How does it happen? Who is responsible?
Naina: That Jadav Sa'ab that we know.
(Color of light changes for flashback)
(Vote for Jadhav Saab...Jadhav Saab zindabad..sounds from wing)
(Entry of Jadhav Saab. In flashback group is from Biana Basti)
The gharwalis, sex workers, MSMs, maalak—everyone is still laughing after the song and celebration when Lakshmibai and Naina enter. Lakshmi's sister spots her first and her expression changes. Following her gaze, one by one they all look at the newcomers, who are quiet and grim.
A hush falls, and is broken the next moment by a babble of voices, a rain of overlapping questions and exclamations. But the gharwali is silent, looking at her equally silent sister, who describes the devastation that the red-light district in Baina, Goa has faced - the politician who had promised to protect them fails to do so and they are homeless after their houses are demolished.
MSM : Why does all this happen? How does it happen? Who is responsible?
Naina: That Jadav Sa'ab that we know.
(Color of light changes for flashback)
(Vote for Jadhav Saab...long live Jadhav Saab..sounds from wing)
(Entry of Jadhav Saab. In flashback group is from Biana Basti)
Jadhav Saab: Namaskar mavsi (aunty)!
Maushi :Namaskar Baba.
Jadhav Saab: Maushi this time I am standing in the elections. My symbol is rabbit. Vote for me only.
Maushi : Arre, we have heard that Baina is going to be demolished.
Jadhav Saab: Have you got any notice?
Maushi and group: No No we haven't got any notice…
Jadhav Saab: See nothing will happen to you. Keep in mind, my symbol is rabbit. Vote for me. (Jadhav Sa'ab goes off with his people )
Woman from Biana: Ma ? That Jadhav Saab…?
Maushi: Arre. In the past his father used to come. Now he comes.
Woman from Biana: But that Jadav sa'ab did not do anything for us.
Maushi: But this one will do something.
Boy: If this one turns out to be like his father?
(Jadhav Sa'ab enters with his group after election: Jadhav Saab zindabad)
Jadhav Saab: Maushi, by your blessings I have won the elections. Now nothing will happen to our tradeswomen. Call me up even at midnight if you have a problem. Take my number from my PA. (Jadhav Saab goes off with his people)
Maushi: It's good that he has won the election; he is known to us. He comes this side every day. Now Biana won't fall.
(All of them scatter for their routine work. The Boys start playing with each other. They listen to the sound of bulldozer coming to the ghetto. They start hollering out for help. All enter again on the stage with a lot of noise. A government official comes forward to inform them about demolition)
Govt. person: See, I have the orders to demolish Baina. Get your stuff out and get out of here. (Noise of the group)
Maushi: See, we have been citizens of this place for fifty years. We have ration cards. Our names are there on the voters' list. We will die but not budge from here. (Group: Yes. We will not move, we will not move. Someone tells Naina to call up Jadhav. Naina calls)
Jadhav Saab: Hallo!
Naina: Hello, I am calling from Baina. Jadav sa'ab you had said nothing will happen here. But they have brought bulldozer to raze Baina down.
Jadhav sa'ab: I am around. I will be there.
(Again noise of group. Jadhav sa'ab enters)
Jadhav sa'ab: What's happening here?
Government person: See, I have the orders.(Group noise. He calls his boss. Boss enters )
Jadhav Saab: wait, I will see. You all calm down, please.
Boss: Namaskar Jadhav sa'ab.
Jadhav Saab: How will things run if you come any time to do anything.
Boss : I had given a notice to these people eight days ago.
All: No, no, that's a lie.
Boss: Come, I will tell you everything.(He takes away Jadhav Saab) (Noise of group)
Jadhav Saab: What? Say.
Boss: Nothing is in my hands. These are orders from above. Try and understand.
Jadhav Saab: It's alright. All this had to happen before the election only.. I had stalled it for a few days for votes. You do your work. I will make them understand.
(Boss and Government person goes off.)
Jadhav Saab: I have got it stalled for now. I will go and meet the higher official. (Jadhav sa'ab also goes off. Group scatters in a happy mood. Bulldozer comes again and starts destroying whole basti)(Noise. Sounds of all crying and song Tana Bana)
The demolitions in Baina, Goa unspool in a flashback - based on a real-life incident that took place in Baina in 2005.
Leena's teenage daughter addresses the audience - and talks about maalaks, including her father.
When we were in class two, a girl's father died. Then I asked Ma if I also had a father who had died. Ma did not reply, she just kept staring at me. Her eyes welled up, and I ran away from the room, nervously.
After some days Ma got someone along with her here – where I stay, She said, "This is your father. That father gave me chocolates and dolls a couple of times. Once he took us to watch a film. Whenever he would stay overnight with Ma in the other house, I would think that we would all stay together after that. Then one day, he stopped coming.
In Ma's profession, there are customers as well as maalak. Like the gharwali's old maalak who stays with his wife and children. And still, the gharwali considers him her husband. Rickshawalla is Ma's other maalak. Her calls me his daughter sometimes in front of my mother. But I don't call him father.
A confrontation of sorts between the maalak (gharwali's lover) and his wife - she accuses him of infidelity. He does not deny it, instead pointing out that the gharwali, his lover, has made several monetary contributions to their family.
Lights fade up on the gharwali's maalak and maalak's wife at home. Wife brings him a glass of milk and plonks it before him with.
Wife: Raju had called. (Long pause) Did you hear?
Wife: Your son Raju. Have you forgotten him also.
Maalak: What happened to Raju?
Wife: He was asking where you are.
Maalak: So what did you say?
Wife: I felt like telling him the truth, but I didn't.
Maalak: And what is the truth?
Wife: As if you don't know.
Wife: Till when will all this go on?
Maalak: See, I have a headache. What is it that you want to say?
Wife: I asked one thing and you have a headache. And she will call once and you will go running.
Maalak: Sit down please ( She hesitates, then sits)
Maalak: Now tell me what you want to say.
Wife: I want that you should stop going to shady places. If people see you going there, what will they think?
Maalak: I am a lawyer. I have to go all kinds of localities, and have to meet all kinds of people.
Wife: Then, this relation …this relation that you have…do something about it.
There's a long pause.
Maalak: There's a relation and that's why she has done so much for us.
Wife: For us? What do you mean?
Maalak: I mean that our Raju, who is studying in an engineering college now – the thirty thousand for his fees did not come from my earning. And I can count many other things. Due to that one relation, my other relationships do not get finished. Try and understand, you will be happy.
Wife: Yes, I am a fool and you are the one who understands everything! I don't want a loan from her dirty earnings, do you understand?
She storms out. He goes away, helpless.
Leena's teenage daughter addresses the audience, discussing her hopes and fears as she starts going to a new school.
My new school is better than the old school. A doctor comes here who talks a lot with me. She knows that I am a daughter of a 'sex worker', but that does not make any difference to her. She says the women don't go and call men from their individual homes, isn't it? Men themselves go to them. That's why if the society looks down upon my mother's profession, then it is the foolishness of this society. And till we don't know how to respect ourselves, the world shall not respect us either.
I want respect for myself, and for my Ma. That's why I have started thinking about the future. And I have decided – that I will study with all my heart. I may have to struggle more than others. To complete my studies, to get a job – all this won't be easy for me. But whatever it may be, I am not going to accept defeat.
I have chosen my path. May Ma keep walking her path and be happy.
Leena is thoughtful, goes over to the paanwalla's stall.
Paanwalla: Leena bai, you want something, Gutka?
Leena: Will you tell me one thing truthfully?
Paanwalla: You got saved from going to the court in the morning. Now why are you asking me to swear to tell you the truth?
Leena: See Sunil, I am not joking.
Paanwalla : Okay tell, what is there in your mind?
Leena: You had got him a shack, isn't it?
Paanwalla: Your rickshawalla? Ya I had got him a shack.
Leena: He comes to your shop to have paan and cigarette, to make phone calls. Did he ever mention anything about buying an auto rickshaw?
Paanwalla: Where will get so much money from? Today morning itself he paid the rent of his shack and left with his stuff.
Leena is silent, too shocked to speak.
Paanwalla: Did he borrow money from you?
Leena: Did he say when he'll come back?
Paanwalla: How do I know when he'll come. His wife has had a second child – he has gone to the village.
Leena: His wife? Is he married?
Paanwalla: Yes! He never told you? Must have a fallen a bit in love with you, and so must not have told you.
Leena walks away in a daze.
Paanwalla (calls out): He does not deserve you. Leena, forget him.
Leena, the protagonist, realizes that she has been duped by her lover; he has vanished with the Rs 25,000 she lent him.
A duped and tearful Leena threatens to leave the brothel; the gharwali stops and pacifies her, the other sex workers rally around. After a little bit of tender loving care, she bounces back. Another evening, another customer. It's business as usual and life goes on.
Gharwali: Where will go if you want to leave? Why don't you tell me what the matter is?
Leena (tearful): There is nothing to tell. I can't do all this anymore.
Gharwali: What will you do then? How will you earn, how will you eat?
Leena: I'll do any work and feed myself.
Gharwali: And where will you stay? On the footpath? And what about the fees of your daughter? You want that she remains illiterate, that she comes to this profession one day?
Leena: No she will complete her education, come what may.
Gharwali: See, you call me Ma, isn't it? (Leena nods)
Gharwali: Did I ever beat you? Was I ever unfair in paying you?
(Leena shakes her head)
Gharwali: Then tell me the truth – you had fallen in love with that rickshawalla, isn't it? He is the one who has caused you grief, isn't it? Tell me, I will have both his legs broken.
Leena: He has left the town to go the village- to his wife.
She breaks down at last, sobbing helplessly. The gharwali hugs her, tries to comfort her. Leena clings to the gharwali, then she calms down a bit and wipes her tears.
Leena (tonelessly): He had taken twenty five thousand rupees yesterday. My Bhisi's money. He had said he will marry me and take me from here.
Gharwali: First, calm your heart down. Money you will earn again, it is not difficult for you. Our trade is like that – some maalak may turn out to be good, some may turn out to be a scoundrel. Is it not?
The others have been coming in and beginning to listen. Now they nod and murmur in agreement as the gharwali expounds on her theme.
Sex worker 1: Yes Leena, let him go, forget that bastard. Marrying and being a slave of one man- our life is far better than that. We can be with anyone. If men can leave us, we can also leave them and start over.
Sex worker 2: The woman of the society calls us the 'kept'. She does not think that we stay in our own houses, and she being married stays in her husband's house. Who has kept who?
The women laugh, feeling liberated by these notions and amused at the inadvertent pun. Only Leena still looks miserable.
Leena: I don't know anything. I just want to die.
Sharada: I had tried to die, do you remember? But you had not let me die. You had taken me to the hospital…now will I let you die just like that?
Madhu: Though we are in this trade, we all have a heart. Now laugh, you'll get another one, Leena. Much better than that rickshawalla. Jhumkewalla(Leena's old customer; who gave her the earrings)comes at paanwalla's stall and tries to call Leena)
Gharwali: What is it? (Regular looks at Leena)
Gharwali: Leena ! Your customer. (Leena looks at regular and come forward to talk to him)
Regular: Arre what happened? Why are you crying? I am there for you. Shall we go, sit? (Leena smiles at him flirtatiously)
Leena: Will you wait for me for a while?
Regular: I will wait. Tell me when I should come.
Leena: An hour later. You will come?
Regular: Ya I will come.(He goes away)
Sex Worker 1: Arre Leena, you are quite fast. Left the rickshawalla and caught hold of the jhummkewala (the earring man) as quick as this?
Gharwali: Come on girls, it's time to start work.
(Galli scene starts with background music and all enter on stage).FADE OUT