Years ago, more than half a decade ago, we used to frequent this place, this restaurant, not entirely classy, but itsy-bitsy classy in its own way for people who ate out of pocket money. It was at one end of our sooty town, under the expanse of a tree, in the shade of which they set up a barbeque on some evenings. We would go dutch, strictly dutch, no man splurged on us, bunch of single females, religiously dutch at heart. For hours we would sit there, perched like tired birds munching coleslaw, strings of cabbage, nibbling a cutlet at its edge, to just sit there long enough. Look at people, until the icecreams from their cones melted, flooded and overflowed.
Once we noticed, paticularly stared at this man-woman in a corner. You know such corners, where they could sit dangerously close to each other for distances dictated by propriety. Distances to be illustrated in public, where anything that can catch the eye, does. She was plump, dusky, with her long plait ending way below where her blouse ended, half of her back exposed, towards us. He held her by stretching an arm across her shoulders and whispered into her ears, that sparkled with chandelier earrings, supposed dirty secrets that made her giggle quietly. They chatted and ate oblivious of our lingering awe and gaze. At the gluttonous plates on their table.
The other unsplurged on single females uttered. He's feeding her so well, such that later she would let him do. Whatever had in mind. She was a pros. They said. That's the word we used then, that's the word we use now.
That woman, sold off, for money. I don't look up or down on her. She does what she does. But each time I see a car slowing down beside a waiting girl on a highway, and the man inside raising eyebrows, posing that question; I think. I do.