“It must have been love, but it’s over now. It must have been good, but I lost it somehow…” (Roxette)
We met one day at her simple “office”, a small house among other small houses, located somewhere outside the main road –about 45 minutes away from the main town. I recognized it as a remote area, as we passed an empty land with long grass and a light-broken road. It seemed that it was intended to be hidden.
It was cold as I got off the car, and I could sense the soothe atmosphere of cold mountain area. What a relaxing place, I thought at that time –before I realized there were so many condom ads with various flavor, which were so tempting! Then, I saw her there, sat quietly and looked a bit nervous. But still, she looked beautiful at her early 20s (I guessed at that time). She had long shiny black straight hair, and flawless bright face. She put moisturized red lipstick on her full lip, and bright-red polish nail on her well-treated-long nail.
After short introducing from her “co-worker”, we began to talk. She didn’t mention her name. So, I just called her you. She never really looked at me when we talked. She was busy playing a knotty piece of a tear magazine laid on a wooden table, where her hands were always placed. However, we had a nice-strange chat (I noticed her pupils frequently rolled over, to avoid my “researcher look”, and she talked not in order, sometimes also mumbled).
She said she was leaving home because of a quarrel with her parents. She didn’t mention what was the problem. She only mentioned that she was in deep depressed after her beloved boyfriend died of an accident. She loved him very much, and I could capture those sad eyes when she told the story. So, one night, she decided to run away from home. She wanted to go to her grandparents’ place, where she felt she could get along with. That night, on the way to the town where her grandparents’ lived, while the bus stopped at a small station, she realized she lost her purse. It was a pickpocket. She was terribly panic, and began to cry. A middle-aged man came over and offered her a help. He said he lived nearby, and suggested her to stay at his place as it was not safe to stay on the bus. The man promised to take her to the bus station the next morning. She felt she had no choice: it was a nice offer. So, she stayed at the man’s house, where he and his wife treated her well.
In the morning –as he promised to, the man took her, but not to the bus station. He took her to the small house, a brothel, where I interviewed her for a research purpose. He introduced her to her “co-worker” –the man who introduced me to her, who then became the pimp of the house. At first, she had no idea what it was all about, until one night, in a room at that brothel, a man asked her to (sexually) serve him. “No… No… I don’t want to!” she cried that night. The man was pity on her, she said. So, they only talked all night long. He gave her money, and left. It was over for him, but not for her.
When we met, it was about two years later after she ran away from home. She was still there, and became the most favorite one. She got a hectic schedule. Everybody “loved” and felt jealous about her. I could understand that: she was pretty. She smiled shyly when I teased her she looked like our local actress, Marcella Zalianty, whose picture hung on the wall above her.
Afterwards, without any connection to the previous conversation we had, she asked me whether I knew that address –a street located at my hometown. I said, “Yes, I know it.” In later, she began to tell me the story about a man she loved –one of her clients. She couldn’t help herself not to call him. “I just want to hear his voice,” she said in a low voice, felt between helpless and shy, but yet passionate. One day, when she deeply missed him, she –accompanied by someone from her place, went to my hometown, a two or three hours trip from her place. She came to my big city with a great expectation that she would meet her beloved one, but then back home in an empty hand –felt distressed and neglected. That day, when she knocked on his door, she hoped the man would open the door, but it was a woman who showed up. She could sense that she might be his wife. She knew he had a family –the man told her so. She knew that her romantic love had no future. She said –in distressed tone, “I didn’t want to hurt his wife. I just wanted to meet him”. So, she made up a story: she got a wrong address.
I know love is attainable for someone like her. She and other sex workers are considered as intruder to harmonious family life. They are mostly judged of their misbehavior –but no men are being judged for what they do with them.
And, when it comes to love, it’s considered as misguided according to the “handbook” of “Brothel Company”. Love is forbidden among them, particularly when they are in love with their clients. “So, just be professional”, all the pimps might say like that.
But realistically, who can’t resist love? I could see those eyes, the eyes who tried to avoid my look. I could see those hands, the hands that kept playing that knotty paper till it tear apart. And, I could hear that voice, a helpless-hopeless-sad voice. She loved him, even seemed bigger than her love to the died boyfriend. That’s it!
It’s like the old romantic love story of Tristan and Iseult, the typical Middle-Ages European’s love. A book written in 2009 by Marilyn Yalom called “A History of Wife” mentions that the story of Tristan and Iseult represents the power of an irresistible and inexhaustible passion, a “fatal love” that overcomes suffering and even death. Their watchword is the motto of all true lovers: “Neither you without me, nor I without you.” (p. 56). Nonetheless, it was only the story of Tristan, as I’d never heard the part of Iseult on that contemporary “remake” one. As well, it was okay “if you are not with me”, but not okay “If I am not with you”. Adjusted by nowadays-reality I found, the girl was the Knight: she was Tristan. Like other Knight, she had to serve the person she loved, even with the fact she could not be able to marry/have him; meanwhile the man she loved, he was like Iseult. He remained unattainable. He was legally married to other woman –like the fact Iseult was the wife of Tristan’s Lord. It’s so challenging-romantic contemporary love story. Further, Yalom explains that adulterous love, however forbidden, however immoral, however detrimental to social harmony, was an exceptionally hardy strain (p. 57). The furious of helplessness soul lead her to do something forbidden: chased the one she loved. A rule was broken: she had to lead that “misguided” behavior to get her man. Well, a Knight had to fight on a battle, to win the beloved one.
For me, it was like a cry for help, to express: “I am deserved to be loved” (even if, sorrow is her only friend).
It sounds so human to me.