I Am a Tawaif’s Son: Growing up in Mumbai’s Brothels

Gender

I Am a Tawaif’s Son: Growing up in Mumbai’s Brothels

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

I

n one of my earliest memories, I am a toddler bawling in the arms of an underage maid. She is standing on the top rung of a rickety wooden staircase, where a dark, narrow corridor leads to an open door. From inside the room, a bright white light emanates; two women are engaged in a tussle with an armed man. One of them is my mother. In that screaming chaos, the drunken man is flashing a knife, yelling, “randi, randi” at the top of his voice. The women scream back.

I extend one frantic arm in the direction of the door, trying to reach out to save my mother. It doesn’t help. Her finger gets chopped in the attack. There is blood.

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