I came here many years ago from Murshidabad. My family was poor- my father worked as a daily labourer and my mother was a house-maker. I am the eldest of six siblings. When my father became older and grew sick our family became poorer. As the eldest daughter, I thought I should get a job to help the family. In search of work, I came to Kolkata and started work as a domestic helper, but I gradually realized the amount I was sending was not sufficient to bring up my brothers and sisters. To earn more money I decided to choose sex work to earn more money.
As I started to send more money, my family was happier; but they never came to know how I had earned the money. Whenever my family asked to come and stay with me, I somehow managed to say “no”.
I was happy that I was able to attend my sister’s wedding, and saw that my youngest brother, who is very beloved to us, had grown up. I bought a small house and gifted it to him, as our earlier house was broken and had water pouring out from everywhere. Both my parents had expired by this stage, and my sisters were all established.
After completing all of my duties, I found that I was penniless. I had never thought about myself, or saved anything for me. At the age of 60/62, I was no longer fit for the sex trade. I once again began work as a domestic helper, but this did not suit me and I became ill. I decided I would return to my village and stay with my brother. However, my brother had also got married and had four children, so I was not welcome at my house.
I returned to Kolkata but I did not have a place to stay, so I started work as a full time domestic helper. My health became even worse, so I lost my job. I became alone, penniless and ill. I took shelter on the footpath.
Two women within the community decided to create some work for old ladies who had been in the sex trade. They opened an “Old Age Home” at their house, starting with three old ladies. A kindhearted woman agreed to look after this. Gradually the demand was increased and the small house was not big enough to fit everyone. A big house was then rented, where there are now 14/15 women staying together.
A new ray of life has been reached to so many distressed old ladies like me.
*for the security of those involved names have not been published in this article.