A Visit To The Red Light Area
The color blue signifies tranquility, white symbolizes chastity and red denotes love and sensuousness. But the most tranquil areas of a city are not stamped as ‘white area’ or ‘blue area’, but the society has displayed enthusiasm in marking certain pockets of a city as red-light areas. Since it is practically impossible to display a red light in front of the alleys leading to these areas, let the name do the job! But the areas devoted to generate pleasure and love are rather ‘ghettos’ that spell apathy. An opportunity to witness the inside story of the infamous areas of the city was seized by me as soon as I got an opportunity to do a research related to the victims of trafficking. The irony of the Bowbazar area of Kolkata is that its notoriety camouflages in a street full of book sellers! The person who was guiding me through the serpentine lanes was perhaps confused as to why a young woman was interested in exploring the dark side of the brightly lit region. But yes, I decided to venture out in the condemned lanes of the city.
It was nothing unusual; the lane that led me there was no different from that of a slum area. It was dirty and the bricks of dilapidated buildings were trying hard to hold the structures together. People squatting in front of the small ‘kirana’ shops and rings of smoke forming above their heads reminded me of the old black and white movies. It was only when I walked a few more steps the ‘red light siren’ went off in my head. I was now certain that I had landed in the forbidden land. I peered at an adolescent girl whose face was animatedly painted and she was sitting on the architrave of her door to solicit customers. And then a swarm of such visions blinded my eyes. I observed that most of them were of tender age. Their skimpy clothes and vibrant make up made them starkly identifiable in the dimly lit lane. I could not discern what they comprehended of us, but their gaze piercing through me was a mere reminder of our comfort zone. I came across a group of them, trying to hide my eyes or shifting my gaze, feigning an important discussion with the NGO coordinator. My purpose was to talk to them about their lives but all my questions were answered just by visiting the place. I concluded that they might be untouched by the civilities of life but they are no different from us. They are the victims of this quasi capitalist society. We just go and visit them, to acquaint ourselves with their sorrow, to boast our act of kindness in social media, just like my article might come off as and then forget about it. Give it a thought. Nobody deserves a life like that.
About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Shristi Banerjee.