Yesterday I begun to read this book “Nobody Can Love You More” by Mayank Austen Soofi. Its about the Life in Delhi’s Red Light District. Wait… It is not a directory of services at sale there. Its about the life of the working woman living there and people around them.
After watching me for an hour wife came near and snatched my Kindle that I was reading from. Reading the title she remarked that she understood now why I was absorbed on this book. Knowing better not to argue with wife I convinced myself the comment was unintentional and a joke.
When reading about Red Light Districts I always feel heavy hearted. For me this issue is never about morality, which I think is irrelevant and any talk of virtue here is nothing but hypocrisy. I feel sad imagining the forced labour and inhuman living conditions the girls/women are made to go through in these places. Adding salt to the wound is that in countries where the age old trade is illegal like in India, it pushes the trade to dark alleys which are beyond any governance. This makes even basic health care and safety that we take for granted being denied.
Soofi first visits one of the Kotha’s (house of ill repute) to teach English to kids of a Kotha malik (owner). Intrigued about the lives of people there, why they choose to livehere, he tries to talk to them to understand their story. Initially he encounters a thick wall of secrecy worn by each one of them. Gradually he befriends them and he is able to peal one by one the layers of life in this district. The author clearly loves Delhi and its people, which comes across in his writings. He manages to transport us to the narrow staircases of G.B.Road buildings. Soofi guides us from the ground floor Sanitaryware shops to the Kotha’s in the upper floors, we are led to see that the life in the two floors are world’s apart. One is seen as a business and the other is shunned by society.
Soofi shows how divisions normally seen in society gets blurred when you enter this district. Here the real religion one follows is not relevant, a woman might follow Islam but have a Hindu name or vice-versa what ever that suits them for earning that day. In G.B. Road Soofi visits a Sufi saint temple and a Hindu Hanuman Temple, but being worshipped by people living here with equal reverence.
What I liked is that Soofi takes no sides, he never gets judgemental. Other than his dislike for the place being dirty and cramped he never projects his personal feelings of the place. Overall an engaging read!!!