I will digress a little today and write about a thing or two that has happened since I started this blog about two weeks ago. I have received quite a number of emails from people who want to meet me both for personal, business and activism purposes. And other mail from people who wish to know whether I am for real. I find them all funny and interesting.
Well, the reason some people doubt my existence on the streets is supposedly because I express myself in ‘proper’ English and show some sense of ‘intelligence‘. Quite some basis for the doubts. A prostitute is assumed to be a little daft. Just like the thief, she is the loser who opts to go for the shortcut rather than confront life’s challenges head-on, like decent people do. To some extent, there is truth in this, the same way there is some hypocrisy in it, but that is a story for some other day. Of course, there are some of us who are quite slow; Those who even shrub their own names; Calo instead of Carol. But there are others too, as those of you have interacted with us know, who will speak the ‘proper’ English, with even a twang and sparkling of French.
From my interaction, most of us are educated at least up to form two. Then there are those who have reached form four but not gone to college. Then there are a few, by street standards, who are educated to college and perhaps university level. Unfortunately or fortunately on the streets, the education level doesn’t matter much; it’s your body that is key. Somehow we are all the same; those with primary certificates or degree certificates. Those who didn’t clear their primary schools are not looked down upon by those who have been to campus. And vice versa. I mean irrespective of our education we are all doing the same thing.
Ability to show use ‘proper’ English and show some ‘intelligence’ is not a good authentic measure. And so is the possession of ‘deep thinking’. Most of us, educated or not, have developed some personal philosophy; a view of the world unique only to our personal selves. Even for those of us who can’t express ourselves in ‘proper’ English, they can do so in their mother tongue, and since their thoughts are real and non conforming they would be said to be ‘deep’. And yes we are tech savvy. We talk about Facebook and are addicted to Love Find Me.
I have toyed with the idea of coming out in the open. I actually want to meet some of those who have asked to see me and I will. Other than for the girls I work with, and my clients, only one or two other people know what I actually do. My parents, who luckily moved to the village, have no idea and so does any of our family members. I use some alibis. I even have some business cards, with my name, from the company at the airport where I work. I have been lucky none of my relatives have ever picked me from the streets, like it has happened to some.
I feel it will be a little awkward to come out in the open. Meeting someone from the ‘decent’ world and start talking about what I do. The sympathy, the hatred, the patronizing, being put on the defense and all other things that might come up. And what will I gain out of it? Perhaps more customers you know. I am waiting for that psychological leap to help me do it, and sure to get it will happen very soon.
I also fear when I become brave enough to say to the decent people I am a prostitute, I will find myself telling my parents the truth. A truth that will imprison, rather set me free.
Writer: Sue Photographer: Jeff Rikhotso