Sunday, 30 May 2021

Enakshi B, Prose 500 2021 Longlist


Good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere!  
So why did Ms. Goody Two shoes, yours truly end up in Pattaya instead of heaven?  Well, ISIS! the terror organization with their particularly violent ideology had managed  to change the course of MY life. 

I had just been issued a Jordanian visa for a blissful vacation by the Jordanian Embassy  but the year was 2016 and month February when a Jordanian pilot was beheaded by ISIS  and the country was tottering on the brink of a war or so it seemed.  

I had to replace Jordan with a country I could visit for leisure in less than 24 hours! My  employer had sanctioned exactly six days of leave for a holiday starting the next day.  And if I missed availing the leaves now, there was going to be no next time for a full  year.  

Without doing any travel homework, we were two girls who landed at an inappropriate  Thailand city determined to find our Utopia. A guy friend of mine left a sniggering social  media comment on my Pattaya check-in update.
‘Pattaya is a Utopia for boys, not for you two’, mocked his comment at my captioned  photograph of Pattaya which read ‘Found my Utopia’.
Spurred by his jeer, I was determined to live it up in this Thai city which looked quite  interesting. My friend and I threaded our way through the psychedelic streets dotted with  pole dancers, lap dancers, lady boys and much more which our eyes were trying to get  used to. Soon, my friend and I realized we were the only girls walking on a particular  street unless you count the women with unsmiling eyes and smiling mouths who were  calling out to the men. Oh-oh, we had walked deep into a world built around the lust of  men.  
Awkwardness gave way to curiosity when I spied a book on the lap of a woman as she sat  waiting at her parlor entrance. I could tell a book-worm when I saw one. My friend muttered under her breath that probably that woman was just playing the Hot-nerd  fantasy for customers that night or reading Fifty shades of grey!

I gave my friend a scathing look and approached this intriguing woman. My friend lost  no time in striking a selfie pose next to her.  
Looking at us, she smiled and said, ‘India?’  
I asked, ‘How did you know?’  
She pointed to the intricate mehndi patterns etched on my hands, the dried henna leaves  had tattooed my hands with a deep fury. A dead giveaway of my nationality.  I asked, ‘Your favourite country? Which one?’  
She was silent.
I tried again, ‘The one you would want to visit again & again?’.
As though by asking that question, I was trying to hand her an escape flight to a better  life.
She nodded her head and said,’ Memories. I visit again and again. My favourite place’. My wanderlust soul realized what I was missing.

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