The 20 minute phone call that changed Rao’s life

Once upon a time, there was a man named Rao who worked in a prestigious hotel in Chennai, India. He was an extremely successful, honest and hardworking man. Rao who worked in a Hotel, spent most of the day at the workplace, and also in commuting. He lived with his wife, daughter and son. While the daughter was 24 years of age, his son was 19 years old. His wife was a homemaker. So Rao who was the only bread winner, he had to work really hard, make various sacrifices and compromises, earn and save a lot of money for his family. He would leave at 6am and return home only by 10pm. He was a very pious person so Rao created 2 hours of time daily to pray to God.

One day, when Rao was at work, he received a phone call from his wife. The phone call lasted 20 minutes. That phone call did change a lot of things in his life after that. Rao needed a job with higher salary and better perks. The very next day, not thinking much, he went to his boss’s cabin, knocked his door and requested to take five minutes of his time to discuss with him. His boss without any hesitance, accepted and gave him five minutes of his time. During this conversation, Rao gave his resignation letter and requested his boss shortens his notice period from 2 months to 1 month. His boss was utterly shocked because Rao was doing his job well and the hotel’s business was flourishing. He was worried for Rao leaving the job abruptly without another offer. But, he did understand Rao needed a better salary and that he could not meet his expectations. Later, Rao went back home that evening and told his wife alone that he quit his job and will soon find one that will improve their financial status. He did not waste time and started looking for a better and new job immediately. He made a few calls and within 2 weeks, he received a call from the owner of a Hotel in Rajahmundry. At the end of the 30 minute phone call, Rao was offered a job with a better salary and role and was asked to start work in 2 weeks.

In 2 weeks, Rao moved to Rajahmundry. He was given a lavish bungalow all to himself. He was the GM of the Hotel. The moment he landed, he was given a warm welcome by his colleagues. The Hotel had given him a new car too for him to drive around. Rao was overwhelmed by the welcome and the perks he was given. But little did he know about Rajahmundry and the people who lived there. On the first day, the hotel’s owner introduced him to all the staff, majority of them being men, showed him the property and provided him the necessary inputs. On the same day, after work, when he reached his home, he noticed from his balcony, many men in expensive cars and bikes on the opposite side of the street, standing outside a building. He did not know why they were there but did assume that Rajahmundry is a place full of wealthy people. As a matter of fact, his assumption was right, as most people and ministers had made plenty of money over the last two decades. Since, he was tired, he went to bed early. The next morning, he woke up, performed his daily prayers to God and sat in the balcony with a cup of coffee and newspaper. To his surprise, the opposite side of the street was very quiet in contrast to the previous evening. When he went to work, he asked one of his colleagues about the building opposite his house. His colleague smartly said “I don’t know Sir”.

At work, over the course of time, he found that ministers or locals come to the restaurant, order for a cup of coffee and the same is shared by 3 people. A coffee costed Rs 10/-. Usually, around ten people would come to have a cup of coffee, sit for 3 hours and have the air conditioner on all that time. Rao diligently increased the price of coffee from Rs 10/- to Rs 50/- per cup noticing that the electricity bill was increasing while the consumption of coffee or even food was less. This irated the customers because they had to spend more for a cup of coffee. For a week, they visited nearby eateries for a cup of coffee but soon realised that the hotel’s air conditioner was more important to them than spending more for a cuppa. In the meantime, word spread, and hotel’s owner was worried and asked Rao why he increased the price and that he should reduce them soon as customers were agitated for the change. Rao told the owner that he was appointed to do his job, ensure there was more sales and not incur losses. He showed the P&L to the owner and indicated that the hotel made more money in the last few days than what they did in the last 2 months. This explanation earned a lot of respect and accolade for Rao and owner was happy not to ask any more questions and completely trusted him.

In few days, Rao came to know about the people of Rajahmundry, their eccentric behaviour and ruthlessness to kill someone and rape women. Rajahmundry is known for notorious crimes by people, wealth and prostitution. Rajahmundry has plenty of red-light areas with spatially concentrated brothels. Sex workers can indulge in street based sex work or house based sex work entertaining customers predominantly being wealthy people, ministers or travellers. Usual places for sex could be lodge/home, lodge/highway and highway/agricultural fields. Some Sex workers lead a normal middle-class life in Rajahmundry while travel to Peddapuram for work whenever customers call them. Kalavantalus a.k.a artists consider Rajahmundry as their home though they come from nearby places. Most Kalavantalu women still want their daughters to follow the peculiar rituals of the community. Soon after she become fertile, the girl is dressed like a bride and paraded before the lustful eyes of landlords and merchants who have come to sleep with the virgin. Sleeping with a virgin on the first of the Ashada month brings long life and good fortune, they believe. The highest bidder will own her for the night. There have been reports of auctioning of minor girls coinciding with the Ashada carnival dedicated to local deity Maridamma, as latest as 2005. Now police and other authorities aver the practice is gone for good. Earlier, these sex workers used to perform at ‘record dances’ and charm the men or customers, but now that is banned by the police, they have no option but continue prostitution.”

Rao soon came to not only experience fights in the neighbourhood, but also noticed that the building opposite his was a brothel by night. And on one evening, he had an argument with a customer who misbehaved with the staff at the hotel. Little did he know that the customer would bring his gang in an house. Later that evening, about 40 people had come with swords to kill Rao. Luckily, Rao had made good friends with a political party near the hotel. While Rao was locked up inside a room to save his life, a political party and the gang were verbally fighting over the issue. Soon, the crowd dispersed. The next day, Rao was called by the President of the party in which the customer who had argued and threatened to kill. He apologised to Rao for the misconduct or behaviour his fellow party member did. After that, the word spread about Rao and respect for him grew tenfold too. Wherever he went, he was praised and respected by people.

On a Sunday in August, he witnessed 4 men rape a woman in broad day-light on the streets. The woman was screaming for help but none came for help. Rao too could not help because he was scared of his life. And, he thought to himself, what if he complained to the police, and what would happen to his life, what would happen to his family after that. He quickly thought about his daughter who was going to be married. Everything came to his mind in a spark. He cried and felt terribly bad that he could not go and help that woman being raped. The next day, the newspapers indicated that ‘a woman was gang rapped’ and the men fled from Rajahmundry, which was not true, but Rao figured out, it would be better for him to continue staying with his family instead of being far away from home. The very next day, Rao went up to his owner and resigned from the job. He left for Chennai that day and promised never to return to Rajahmundry. When Rao went back to his old employer, his boss had asked him the most important questions “Why did you leave earlier and Why did you return”. Rao shared the recent past with him and also indicated that a 20 minute phone call with his wife about their daughter who received a very good marriage proposal. He further added that he made so many sacrifices for his family and this was one of them. And, he promised his boss that no matter what happens, he would not leave the hotel. In 2 months’ time, his daughter got married and the entire family celebrated. Till date, he keeps sharing this story with many.

References:

Dangerous Sex, Invisible Labor: Sex Work and the Law in India

Disclaimer:

Partial story is TRUE. Partial story is Fiction.

 

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