"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

The two ladies stood by the overhanging balustrade, watching the other ladies - their friends - in adjacent balconies chewing betel nut, stroking their hairs and beckoning the men in the street below. The overcast grey sky and the grainy mosaic on walls around made it all like the canvas of a documentary movie, and these two ladies were watching it from a balcony seat.
"I had so many dreams while growing up" said the younger one, "Marry a nice man from a good family, have kids, setup a house." She wanted to say more but choked, and started sobbing.

"You are not the first one to feel like this. All girls who come here go through this phase. As time passes you will realize, that this life is better - much better - than being a whore of just one man!" said the older one, licking the betel juice from the lips, "At least you get to choose your off days as per your mood."
"Life? Do you even call this a life?" the younger one wasn't giving up, "People look at us like an object. We are just use-and-throw stuff - disposable. Married ladies get respect in society."
"RESPECT? Oh God! that fake word again." the older lady spit betel juice on the street below, "there is nothing called respect in society kiddo. The sooner you forget that word, the faster you will grow up. Respect has no meaning of its own. It is just a form of compromise. Respect is the name for kindness people show when they need something from you. If you have power, then they give you respect. This thing you call respect, people show it only when they need you or they are scared of you. Else nobody gives a fuckin' damn?" the older lady smirked, "And married ladies get respect is it? So every lady that gets raped is unmarried? Do men seek a lady's marriage certificate before they ogle at her? Does the eve teaser stop whistling at a married lady? In the buses and trains, do they see your marital status before leaning on your back?" The older lady continued her wry smile, "In fact, it is only the respected ladies that face harassment in society. Tell me, has any of us whores ever complained a sexual harassment?"

The older expected the younger to chuckle at that line, but that wasn't to be. The younger one continue to sulk.

The older lady softened, "Listen dearie. Yes there is something called respect, but it does not come from society or its people. The only one true respect that ladies do get is in their role as mothers. Respect comes only from the undying bond of a child with its mother. The child who will look up to you for everything, whose world is filled only by you and whose only world is you. The child who is attached to you not merely because it needs you or is scared of you, but beyond  and above all that. It is in the pure love of that child that you will see the true, and only, face of respect. You will earn your respect when you have a child sweetie. And you don't have to be married for that?" and the wry smile appeared again.

"Yes I get that," the young one, still not smiling, "but isn't it beautiful having a partner for life. A man who will stand by you always?"

"Men, huh!" said the older one, "they will stand by you only as long you can make their dick stand. Don't we see that all too often around here?" she paused to spit more betel juice, "Most of the men leave their wives struggling with the chores and come here, don't they? We complete their needs for pleasure and the wives fill in for the rest boring stuff. How different is a wife from a hired maid then? Better a mistress, than a maid."

Younger: "But the husbands still take care of their wives, don't they?"

Older: "Who the hell wants to be taken care of? We just don't want to be taken for granted that's all! Look babe. There are only two times when men are totally caring and honestly generous, when drunk and when aroused.  The men who come to us, are usually both. No bloody wife can claim that with so much surety and regularity as we can."

The younger one was warming up to a smile, provoking the older one to get all the more hyperbolic.

"The men who drive a hard bargain at us outside, end up giving much more in tips when they are finally inside. And what bargain do the wives get? Once the man is done he turns around and snores, and she has to probably run to the kitchen and get back to work. In our case, we own the bed darling and its the man who has to get up and leave. Oh these men! Such bloody pussies; and they dare to call us names!" the older one grimaced and spit out all the chewed betel in one fell swoop, "It's a jungle out there dear. We are all prey in some way or the other. The men will hunt us down at some point, but at least until then let's fly with whatever power we have within us. I don't know what you think honey, but rather than being secure in the cage of one hunter I prefer to fly free until I am shot dead.."
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