Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: U.S. Khokhar

The Sun removes the starry, dark blanket as a caring mother. But just as a normal kid, it takes a lot more than just uncovering to break the sweet dreams. The emerging sound of the city that happens to be her alarm clock will do the rest. Sound of shutters of opening shops, train horns, pedestrians greeting each other. All sort of sounds makes an ally to fight against the evil sleep. She finally wakes up, realizing that nothing like what she saw in her dreams happened. It hurts when you recognize that your dreams were just dreams, but this is nothing new to her.

Gets up from the concrete bench in the park that happens to be a part-time bed. She checks the pockets of her shabby jacket that is her bank locker. Everything is fine no one stole the hard-earned money that she got last night. Now it is the time for survival. She has to spend the minimum possible to stay alive and save as much as possible. Why? 

She is the only financial source of her two parents and two younger siblings after her father grew old enough to rest on the bed rather than on the field. It has been just 3 months since she moved to the city. 

The amount of money they receive from her at the end of every month is good enough to make them believe that she lives a pretty decent life. 

Good morning Rosangela!!

A lady, probably in her 50s, shouts towards her from the small grocery shop in front of the park. She is Ms. D’Costa, the owner of the small grocery shop. She also operates some side businesses. She gave Rosangela her first job as a shop assistant when she came to the city. But later did the same to her what she does to every vulnerable girl that comes to her seeking a better life. She owns and manages the biggest and most popular bordello of the city and uses the helplessness of young girls to make money out of their bodies. Rosangela is one of many girls who work under Ms. D’Costa. But she is special, why? Because the human eyes crave beauty.

The brothel was almost dead until Rosangela came. Her beauty gave a boom to the dying business. The brothel that looked like a haunted building 3 months ago was now one of the most bustling buildings at night in the entire city. Always filled with wasted men who have lost their brains to lust. Unhappy husbands and some just-for-fun wealthy spoilt brats. Destiny is a partial parent. Gives a lot to someone and leaves others to starve. All the credit for the rebirth of the dead brothel goes to Rosangela and her beauty (and her pennilessness).

Woke up early today!? D’Costa asked.

Yeah! I guess the Sun got up early today. Rosangela replied in her soft (and deprived) voice while approaching the shop. She takes some bread and starts eating it raw, nothing new, life has been harsh enough to her. 

Why did you sleep on the bench again? I searched for you everywhere in the building. D’Costa gives her a sweetly evil look while playing with her hair and continues. Why did you come here? The night sky is unsafe for someone as pretty as you, sweetie.

She tries her best to prove that she cares for her while hiding her anger as she had to return customers last night and could have made more money.

 I just got tired, and I don’t know why, but I felt more sheltered under the open sky. Rosangela replied and refrained. 

While talking to Ms. D’Costa, a calendar crosses her vision. 31st May. Her eyes brighten, bites her lip as if she forgot something important. 

I will be right back, just a few minutes. Rosangela sprints without giving Ms. D’Costa any chance to respond. 

Enters the phone booth at the corner of the street, drops a penny, and starts dialling. Hello! Soft feminine voice responses from the other side, her younger sister Angela. Hey, angel! It’s me. She replies in excitement, bouncing in the phone booth. Anyone can get an idea of excitement from the other side by the sound of commotion coming, her sister calling her mother, her mother calling father, father calling brother, but no one paying attention to her on the phone. That happens when you hear from a loved one once in a long while. 

Where is Franck? Give him the phone. Her sister gives the phone to Franck. Before he can say anything or even greet his elder sister, excited Rosangela starts singing the birthday song. Happy 19th birthday! It is his 19th birthday today. The small family gets connected by wires and happiness. God gives them such little moments so they can thank him once in a while. 

Tell me, what gift you want? As if she can give everything, but that is her affection speaking for her younger brother. Both of them know that getting an expensive gift is next to impossible for them. But Franck gathers some courage and whispers quietly on the phone so none of his parents can hear him.

Can you please tell dad to give me some money? I want to go out with my friends tonight. He pauses and continues I don’t need much, just you know, a little bit. They knew that any request will decrease the enthusiasm, but Rosangela thinks for a while and assures him that she will convince their father for that. As she is the one who is making money, so her father cannot deny her and agrees to give him some money to celebrate his day. Franck snatches the phone and starts thanking her.

But how are you going to celebrate your day? She asked 

For some reason, Franck’s enthusiasm is spoiled by her question, he thinks for a while, and says, one of my friends invited me to celebrate tonight at his house. I will spend the night there with all my friends. 

But you have not taken permission of night out from us. Mom interrupts. 

Let him go, mom, it’s his day. Rosangela manages to get Franck the permission to go out. Everyone agrees and hung up the phone. Talking to the family always gives her relief and also fear. She is afraid of what will happen when everyone gets to know where the money on which they live is coming from. But this time, the joy won over sorrow, visible on the smiling face coming out of the booth. She returns to the shop. Singing, dancing, lost in her world. After explaining everything to Ms. D’Costa, she starts doing the chores for which she gets extra pay.

The Sun is all set to go down, so is the shutter of the shop. After packing up everything, they close the shop. Thanks a lot, sweetie. Let’s head to the night shift. I promise I won’t hold you for long tonight

After walking a good amount of distance, they reach the destination. The brothel. A double-story old building with multiple rooms and colorful lighting. Girls walking around, some rooms engaged, some empty. Some drunk homeless men roaming, getting cursed and slapped. It has a neon lighting board on its front that says 

The Divine Compound.

For desperate men eaten up by lust, it is heaven, at least for a while. But for the girls, it is no less than a web of the devil’s spiders in which they are now trapped. All the rooms are almost the same, but one room is different, shimmering in the dark corner of the 1st floor. The most decorated room and has a nameplate that says Paradise in Hell. Contradictory, but true to some extent. It is Rosangela’s room, or to make it sound more professional, her workspace. This is the room where she dies. Every night. Multiple times. This is the room where she spends her nights, the room where she has met all kinds of men, married & unmarried, young & old, happy & sad. But after meeting so many people, she was still the same Rosangela. Sad. Helpless. Alone. 

Both of them enter the first room in the building that happens to be the reception and waiting room. Ms. D’Costa sits on her chair on the other side of the counter, opens her register where all the account of money and pre-bookings is kept. She is one of those well-managed devils. 

Sweetie! You have only one client tonight. He booked you for the entire night in advance, might be here at any moment. D’Costa smirks and continues so you better go to your room and get ready. I will send him.

Rosangela approaches her room while thinking about the person who has booked her. For her, it is rare to get only one client, and that too someone who wants her for the entire night. Must be a fool. She thinks in her mind as she walks because she knows that Ms. D’Costa must have charged him a lot for that. Enters her room, which is decorated as some royal room. 

After some time, she gets ready to encounter another man who will use her as a stress releaser. KNOCK! The client has arrived. 

You can come in.

The guy opens the door after getting permission. A young man enters the room, both of them look at each other. Eyes form contact. Nothing moves. As if the world for both has them has stopped. This young man is Franck, her brother. Both of them are equally aghast at their presence in that room. 

Without saying a word, Franck retracts his path with watery eyes, as if his sister is the only one who was to blame for this. Rosangela runs behind him, screaming to stop him and begging to listen to her for once. Her eyes are carrying tears too but tears of sadness, tears which she was holding for a long time, tears which want to say something. But who cares about her tears? No one ever did. Franck disappeared in the dark. 


Rosangela is sitting on the same bench. In the same park but with an expressionless face that has forgotten to smile. Dark eyes that have run out of tears. A mouth that has a lot to say but no one to talk to. Ears which are dying to hear someone saying her name. 

A Rosangela who has lost all hopes from life is sitting on the bench. A girl who had a family that once loved her, but it has been six months since she heard of them. A girl who came to the city with hopes of a better life for her and her family. But just like many others, she was also fooled by the mirage of a shiny life. Underneath which lies the darkness. A dark hole that gobbles up pure souls. 

But who is responsible for all this?

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