The room was lit with flickering colorful lights, the blasting contemporary ‘Dzongkha’ dance was played on and the Angel-like girls on the stage were synchronizing their curves sensuously with the tune of the music. The environment was all set to lure and entertain the customers, more of it, the male customers from all walks of life. It was in a ‘Drayang’.
Sitting on an exotic couch, crossed legged, he sipped on his whiskey. His eyes were fixed on a particular dancer on the stage. As her curves waved like a snake, her silky hair danced with her bodily moments, her gracefulness intoxicated him more than his black level. He gave an unconscious moan of pleasure from within.
“What’s her name?” he asked to a waiter, eye gesturing on her.
“She is Phuensum and joined just yesterday Sir, why sir?” the waiter told him politely but fed extra information and added a question in typical Bhutanese way.
Phuensum, a seventeen year old girl joined ‘Drayang’ just a day ago and here she was already being targeted.
“Hmmm…do you have her number”? He asked the waiter cautiously.
“No Sir, but I will manage to get it for you, if you are interested” the waiter smiled at him and he smiled back. Their smiles and thoughts were of mutual.
“Please, do me that favor” He requested and the waiter disappeared and appeared with her number instantly.
He clenched in waiter’s hand, a note of five hundred bucks as a token of gratitude, took more shots of whiskey and left the ‘Drayang’ with contented smile.
“Hi, you are beautiful girl and dances so good, can we meet?” he called her that night, being so direct.
“Hello, oh! You were there this night and liked my dance? Oh God! Thank you so much but I don’t know you” she answered him with all her innocence, as innocent and unexposed like a pond’s frog.
“And you got a sweet voice too, would you like to meet me now?” He exploited her innocence immediately and caught hold upon her weakness of getting happy upon being praised.
“Hmmm….meet you? Now? But, how?” She answered glowing shy-fully.
He could visualize the coyness in her expression and the green signal sent over from other end was received well and she smiled sheepishly.
“Yes! Now…I will come to pick you up in ten minutes, will call you when I reach there, see you!” He hung up the call and rushed to the spot.
There, she stood in the parking. In tight jeans, high heels and a short jacket over top, she looked even more voluptuous than before.
“Hi, you look even more beautiful in these western dresses, it suits you. Come in” He opened the car’s door for her, she slipped in and they whirred off.
“So Phuensum, where do you wanna go for ride?” He asked her.
“Hmmm…wherever you wanna take me, I am all yours tonight” She told him, leaving him shocked. He gave her an unpleasing look wordlessly.
“So, you mean, you are …hmm…errr… into such thing?” he asked in hesitancy
“If I say no, I would be lying and I don’t want to lie about my job that I am surviving on” She was direct to her points and he got lost at words for a moment.
“But I thought you knew” She continued “…and for that reason you wanted to meet me but if it’s not for that reason, we are wasting our time”
“To be honest, I didn’t know that and I wasn’t looking for just that in you” disappointments took over his tone of voice.
“At the very first sight, I wanted to know you and be friends and…” she interrupted him then
“Sorry, women like us are nobody’s friend, girlfriend or anything else. Its only business” she put her point across adamantly.
“But why? I mean, why you are into such?” He became involuntarily genuine. There is something in her that he didn’t want to treat her like any other girl on the street.
“Look mister, it is not your business to know, just mind about tonight’s business” she frowned in disappointment.
“I am sorry; I didn’t mean to offend you. How much do you charge?” He aligned his talk with hers smartly.
She gave him a surprising look and wondered, if he wasn’t really aware or pretending to not know anything about girl like her.
“I don’t think you are ready anyways, so forget about the charges and drop me home please. I am tired” She went on being too plain.
“OK, tell me the location” He promptly replied.
“Oh, what a man! What a waste” She thought to herself and leaned back on car’s seat hopelessly, directing him her place’s location.
He dropped her on highway and saw her disappear down the bushes and wondered where exactly did she stay for he couldn’t see any houses nearby the road.
Phuensum’s mother gestured her in sign language, “What about dinner?” Phuensum nodded and asked in sign language too, if she had taken dinner too, to which her mother nodded and Phuensum added in gesture that she is tired and want to sleep. Puensum’s mother was deaf and dumb from the birth.
Back at his home, he couldn’t sleep. He turned, twisted and remained awake from the sleep.
“Are you alright? What’s bothering you?” asked his wife in her half sleep.
“Nothing, change in sleep pattern I guess” he told her but then it isn’t that. The thought of Phuensum bothered him a lot; something about her attracted him like a magnet.
“Why do I feel, like I have known her for ages? Why is that I feel like she is my own? Why, I am automatically attracted towards her and of all why is that I feel bad about her doing such business? Why is she into such? And why should I even care? But I care… but why? Why? Why?” He kept asking those questions to himself of the answers he had none.
Phuensum was searching for her cell phone in her hand bag, when suddenly she came across a bunch of five hundred notes. She didn’t have a slightest idea from where it came till she opened her cell phone and saw an SMS.
“Phuensum, I have left some money in your bag without your notice. Please don’t get me wrong. And I am not someone who buys sex. I seriously wanted to know you and keep in touch for the reasons I don’t know myself. Though you are too young to be my friend, still let’s be friends and keep in touch. Goodnight!” She had no reply.
Phuensum brooded over those gestures and words, holding money in her hand still. And now, it was her turn to ask why? Why and why? She remained awake too. In fact both of them lost their sleep that night and visited each other’s thought.
“Thank you so much! But, that wasn’t necessary” She text him the early morning.
“Thank God! You are not offended. I was bit worried though” He text back and wondered to himself, why should it matter at all anyways, whatever!
That evening he landed up in the same ‘Drayang’ again and she noticed him then. She shrugged away from the touch of the other customers in his presence and she wondered why, why she was doing that?
Phuensum walked to where he was sitting and gave him a warm welcoming smile and his heart melted.
“I need to talk to you; will you come with me after your duty is over?” He requested of her.
She bit her lower lips and thought for awhile.
“Sure” slipped out the response involuntarily but in confusion. Her heart said ‘yes’ and head said ‘no’.
“I will wait here then” He said and she nodded in reply. He waited for her patiently, while she performed her dances with awkwardness in his presence. Suddenly, she felt bad and so did he about the environment that brought them together.
Finally, almost towards the midnight, she got herself freed from her duty and together they drove off.
“Do you really need to do this? I mean such kind of job?” He asked her, his voice full of concerns.
“I must, there is no way out for woman like me. I guess it’s my fate, so…” She sounded sober than the other night.
“I want to help you out but not for anything…just as a friend, will you cooperate”? He looked in her eyes fearing the answer. She thought for a while and answered.
“Hmmm….i don’t know, life has been not any better for me anywhere. My mother fled the village since she found out, she was pregnant of some months. She worked for some rich people as a maid and I was born in a maid’s house at rich door step. I went to school with those rich kids but only to face severe discrimination, being a maid’s daughter. I couldn’t continue after class five, after that I helped as a maid to the rich house with my mother. When I grew old enough to think something of my own, I left that house with my mother and did everything to survive and sustain, all in all I am doing all for my mother. I want to keep her happy and healthy; she suffered hell and……” Her eyes turned moist and voice shaky. He put his hand over her arm and patted softly in assurance.
“It’s alright Phuensum, we all have our shares of sad stories. But how about your father, where is he?” He asked her.
“I don’t know. My mother is born deaf and dumb and some people seemed to have taken advantage of it and impregnated her. I am a bastard…I have scanned every men on street with suspicious eyes of being my father…you see!” Tears rolled down her cheeks and she opened to him like a closest friend ever and he listened to her piteously.
“Can I come and meet your mother once? Only if you are comfortable” he asked her doubtfully.
“Sure, but not at this hour. May be in the day time sometimes this weekend” She wiped off her tears and smiled at the thought her mother’s happiness to have someone come and meet her.
“Anything to make her happy and smile” Phuensum thought to herself and radiated happiness from within, visibly on her face.
He dropped her to the same place. They hugged goodnight and parted on their ways. Two nights of meeting and they were already a close friends, despite of vast difference in their age and status.
By and by their friendship bloomed into a love affair. He protected and sheltered her world. She left the work in ‘Drayang’ and opened a cloth shop with his help and the business did well. She shifted her house from basis of slum to a decent building. Everything went well for her and her mother.
It was her house warming party; she kept it upon his suggestion to boost her social circles. She invited few and closed friends. Her mother looked happy like never before, though deaf and dumb…she tried to be a good host, merely asking the guest around to eat, drink and enjoy in sign language gracefully though.
He was the last to come, he came with a friend. He bought some foreign wine and some gifts. The moment he entered, her mother never stopped staring at him and Phuensum. She was meeting him for the first time. She dragged Phuensum by her hand to a room and asked in hand gesture, where did she meet him, how does she know him and why did she not tell her before.
Phuensum told her, he is a friend and God father to them. She told her mother, he is the one that helped them live a decent life.
Phuensum’s mother gestured her hand and asked Phuensum “How did you know”?
“Know what”? Phuensum gestured back to her mother, confused! Her mother touched her womb and pointed to Phuensum and showed in sign language that,
“He was the one who has impregnated me, he is your father” and she went on telling a story, all in hand gestures, she told Phuensum that, that man came on tour to their village seventeen years back with a friend. He was in drunkard state, not able to stand on his own. His other friend persuaded her to sleep with him and promised her; in the morning…they would ask her hand and marry her off. However, the next morning, before dawn they disappeared. He didn’t even see her face properly for once, but she said, she could never forget the face of the man, who impregnated her and that he is the one.
Phuensum went all pale and down on knees. A knock on a door and there he stood, greeting her mother with a warm smile.
“Happy to meet you Ama” he extended his hand to shake with hers. Phuensum, folded her two hands into one and pleaded in gestures, not to let him know and her mother nodded but with thousands of questions of WHY’s in her eyes.