Whore

It’s fashionable to write about prostitutes these days. Men generally write because they want to be looked upon as compassionate beings, capable to view the misery of prostitutes above and beyond their own assaulting nature. Women write because they have a continuous need to be hailed as feminist warriors. Nothing else seems to catch as much public attention on the media. Clerics write fatwas, reporters about raids on brothels and all this drama interests an ordinary man very much.

Teenage writers are perpetually on the hunt for such hot topics to get noticed so I, once one, jumped the bandwagon and began a story with: Once upon a time, there was a whore.

I knew the opening line was good and the content could not be a problem as i knew reasonably enough about the prostitutes from Hollywood and hearsay. But then i found myself confronting the question if that would be honest to ascribe the character of glamorized fictional prostitutes to the genuine character that took birth in the opening line. Then i asked myself if i could state the facts. More importantly, if i knew the facts. Even more importantly, if i could put them down while not trying to tip-toe about the taboos. These rather unlikely questions brought me some insights that i felt i should share.

It’s really easy to create literature and make a seemingly intelligent drawing-room talk when maintaining contact with reality is not a constraint. One might even get some applause but not knowing the difference, one ends up turning a prostitute into a whore that way. At the end of the day, i don’t feel it’s a good bargain. A quintessential writer, you may disagree, creates all his characters from first-hand experience. The technical difficulty in creating a prostitute’s character, however, is that one, in our conservative society, most likely never has an experience with a prostitute and therefore all one’s ‘observations’ and details about one are actually only speculations based on hearsay, and hence lay invalid.

I read the opening line back and though hard it might be to trace them earlier, it was replete with insensitive inaccuracies. I realized there was no “once upon a time” because every conceivable story about a prostitute is already cliched. Secondly, there was no such thing as there was. The story ran in the present – in the very moment that ticked by. Thirdly, i was not sure if “whore” was the right word for a woman who left her bastards every night to be able to put food on their table but only managed to produce more of them in the struggle.

I backspaced and the words disappeared fast until i was left with a clean sheet staring back at me. I absently typed “whore” at the top again and flinched; old habits died hard. I backspaced once again and this time, not knowing why, I typed “human” instead. It felt better. Acknowledging the humanness of a downgraded human fellow always makes you feel better somehow.

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3 thoughts on “Whore

  1. I know this comment is very…’small’, or that it lacks what the content deserves, but I just wanted to say that this essay of yours is very well-written. From the first line to last. Every word. (Except that I disagree with sn. 3 but all in all, this is PERFECT. I even like its structural details so.)

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