ROOM 103

It’s the night in the capital of Nepal.
A young man is walking on the road alone. He seems to be young and fresh but aged with pain, suffering, and scarcity which is clearly visible in the cuts and burnt patches of his face. He walks in the night like a cat on the burglary. The weather is warm and he is wearing an overcoat, clearly indicating he isn’t a local. He enters the busy parts of the road. A smell of cigarette and perfumes filled up his lungs. He coughs once and then goes to a shop and buys a packet of local bread and starts eating the bread where he stood, eating it bit by bit like it was his final meal. He knew about hunger and he quenched his hunger with great passion.

A few moments later after eating, he continues on his path and enters a hotel. He may not have known it was a brothel, but the way he navigated himself inside that place meant he knew where he was. The board in front of the brothel read ‘Kanchi Hotel and Relax center’, deceiving the children and police who used to day walk that way. During the day, the hotel waitress served the customers with foods & beverages and during the late night, they served themselves as services. The man reaches the front desk and asks for a good room to relax. The receptionist gave him the keys of room no 103. Upon inquiry for his name for the check in, he replied “Milan”.

He enters the room and puts down his backpack. He turns on the light. There is a girl staring at him half-dressed, half naked on the bed where he is supposed to relax. He takes his clothes off, goes to the shower and after a long nice bath, he takes out his spare cloth from his backpack and get dressed up. He decides to sleep on the floor and lies down. The room had only one bed. The girl finally talks. “You want to do it on the floor?” He nods, symbolically representing a ‘no’. He asks her “are you this room’s room-mate?” She nods, symbolically representing a ‘yes’. He then requests her not to disturb him till the morning and gives her the permission to sleep on the bed and then he sleeps.

It’s 6:00 am when he wakes up. The girl is still sleeping. He leaned towards her with small hesitation but finally gently kissed her forehead. The girl woke up and looked perplexed and asked: “You want to do it now?” He gave a ‘no’ nod again.
He didn’t want to have sex but instead, he was looking for something else. He reached his backpack and took out a ladies t-shirt and left that by her side asking her to get dressed and to wait for him. Her cloth had slipped out of her body. He noticed few scars on her abdomen. He opened the door, went out and closed the door. A few minutes later he returned with local breakfast- Samosa, Puri and Tarkari. The girl was dressed up but the t-shirt was way off her size, too big. He asked her a few questions. She replied to most of them. They talked until her shift as a waitress started. He looked sad when she left. He checked out of the hotel after she left.

He goes out of the hotel, stays at the park nearby with head down thinking until it’s night and goes back to the hotel. This time he asks for the room 103. The receptionist says “Sorry sir, it’s already booked”. The man replies “Yes I was the one who booked it”. He takes the keys and races towards the room, opens it and there she was, the same girl, topless. Her face staring at him, with questions all over her eyes. He removed his backpack, took out a shirt and offered that shirt to her. She looked more confused than the day she decided to sell her body and he knew about that. So he asked her to wear the shirt. After she got dressed (the shirt was a perfect fit), he took out a bar of chocolate and offered her to eat some with him. They had another talk for the whole night, lasting longer than the chocolate bites. When she gave off her first yawn, he stopped. He kissed her on her forehead again and let her sleep. She gave the same expression on the face when he entered the room and she asked “Yesterday you paid Rs 3000 extra, me for the whole night. Tonight will also be same. Why?” he replied “Tonight it’s different. Tonight I know your name- Nisha”. He kisses her on her forehead once again and sleeps on the floor. She gives him a pillow. He smiles calm, warm and sleeps.
Next morning, it’s 6:20 am and he is still sleeping. The girl wakes up before him. She takes a shower and calls the ‘special employees line’ for breakfast. She wanders around the room in her birthday suit. Slowly she starts to feel shame, ashamed of being naked. It was a long time ago when she had that feeling. The last time she was ashamed was for not being a mother to her daughter. Milan didn’t know about that. He hadn’t asked and she hadn’t revealed anything he didn’t ask. Her shamefulness reached its optimum and she wore his jeans and the shirt. She knew he had a spare one in his backpack. She wanted to tease him for the embarrassment she felt because of the talks. Selling her body would have been easier than the realistic, logical and sad ‘talks’ about her life. She rushed outside the room only to return back a moment later after she realised she wasn’t wearing any underwear. She got soaked up in the fun of teasing him to the extent that she forgot about herself, she got self-embarrassed.

About 10 am, the man was up. He sees breakfast on the table. The water had started to warm up. He hit the shower. He cleaned every spec of dirt he acquired from the floor. For a few minutes, he searched for his jeans but could not find and wear another one from his backpack. He then slowly went downstairs to find his jeans in the staff’s changing room. There he saw, hanging on a metal pipe, his jeans. He knew and had seen that she had a great body but still couldn’t help himself from imagining how the jeans would’ve looked on her. “Angel in blue jeans….” He started humming the song. He collected his cloth, packed up and checked out from the hotel.

He repeated those two days into the few weeks. He just went inside the hotel to room no. 103 during the night with the same woman and during the day checked out from the hotel’s room. The girl also liked his company and it had been a few weeks since someone had touched her body. She wasn’t used to that but she wanted that. That wasn’t a bad feeling, plus nobody had made a private call for her during those days. He used to enter the room around 8 every night and just talk with her till 2-3 am and then he would sleep on the floor after kissing her goodnight on her cheeks or forehead. Once she tricked him into kissing her lips and once he won a bet so he slept on the bed and Nisha on the floor. A full month passed that way between Milan and Nisha. She slowly started to reveal her past even if Milan didn’t ask questions about her past.

She softened, told him about the darkest of the dark of her secrets. Her daughter who lived with her grandmother. Her boyfriend who tried to kill her after knowing she was pregnant. Her own attempt of trying to kill herself and a friendly advice turned deadly i.e. to sell her body. She clarified to him she was born to the poor family and she had no other options except starting to sell her body for money. ‘Falling in love with him was a blunder’ her catchphrase on the story of her past. She undressed and spoke about the scars on her belly- “It was from the C-section during her daughter Pari’s birth. I was 16 so I couldn’t have delivered naturally. Some people who have used me think it’s from some private client and always tried to hurt me. Some tried to incise my breast, some tried bondage, and some suffocated me. I didn’t say a word. They were the ones who paid extra Rs.3000 like you. I got to keep Rs.2000 from that.” And she laughed bitterly. Milan’s eyes got pale and watery. He looked at Nisha and said, “Do you want to leave this world….?” Just before he finished off his sentence she shushed his mouth and gave him a kiss and with teary eyes and said “I have ruined awfully, you wouldn’t want me” before she burst into tears and got out the room. Milan sat there. He spent the day and night alone, Nisha didn’t return to her room.

One morning when he woke up he found something unusual. There was an envelope next to bed. He tore the cover and inside there were money and a letter. The letter was in bits and pieces so it took him some time to rearrange it.

“Milan,
If you are reading this then my respect for you has raised a lot. Not everyone will pay for a slut to be their talking buddies, not everyone will rearrange a letter which might contain things they might not want to hear, and not a single person I knew is as kind as you. You told me I looked like your wife, but you and I both know that is a lie and I know you are unmarried. I told you I was ruined and that was also a lie, ruined will be sweet coating things, truth is I am ruined beyond recovery. You made me experience emotions I had long forgotten. I for a moment really wanted to escape from all this and try a life with you and Pari. But I can’t be that much selfish, what you gave me this past month is something I never dreamt of, and when I had it, I began dreaming again. For your own good and me to return to reality, I can’t be in the room where I am the princess. I am a slave, enslaved by fate and scarcity. A slave needs to know their place and their job.
You never revealed me your tragic story that made you separated from this world. Whatever it is you will come over it and I see a good life ahead of you.
p.s. the money is yours, I can’t accept the money I didn’t work for.”

Along with the letter, there was money totaling about Rs.90,000. Milan jumbled the letter pieces and collected his belongings and left the hotel. He didn’t see Nisha anywhere in the hotel. He assumed she quit the job. He didn’t ask anyone about her. He left the town.

Six months later

He returned back to the town. It was winter, he wore an oversized fur jacket, thick trousers, gloves and a hat to keep off cold. The “Kanchi Hotel and Relax center” had gone under some renovations to cope with the chilly winter-like he was told. It was late evening and he went straight inside the hotel. He asked the keys for room no. 103 and the reply weren’t good “Sir, it is occupied till next morning, do you want me to refer you to another room?” He replied that he would wait. He stayed in the lobby area the whole night, waiting for the room to open up, which was clearly visible from where he was. Few series of coffees and few shots of vodka kept him up all night long. After 16 agonising hours, his longest night had finally come to an end. He heard the door rattling.

It was 8 am in the morning when the door opened. He rushed upstairs to the room. He waited for three more minutes and a gang of 5 boys left the room. Somebody downstairs, a female employee with familiar voice asked him not to enter the room until the cleaners arrived but he flung the door and entered the room. Inside, a girl, exhausted, tired and covered in human sperms trying to pick herself up from the mess looked at his face in a surprise. He also gave her the exactly same surprised look. He got out of the room saying “I am sorry I thought this was room no. 103”.

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