Sometimes I feel like a turtle that is being grilled over hot charcoal. I am slowly dying. No matter what I do, no matter how much I try to escape, I cannot. I am powerless to change my destiny.
I wonder why I was born to be unfortunate; is this life my destiny? I pray to Buddha that this not be the case. My life seems to be that of a country girl who has spent her days escaping from a tiger, only to be eaten by a crocodile. Mine is an ever-worsening tale with no end in sight.
You see, I am a prostitute, though farangs prefer to call women like me “bar girls.” I believe the term is more acceptable to westerners’ ears. But to a girl like me, it’s all the same. My job means nothing to me anymore. I have long since given up any hope of happiness. I exist for the pleasure of others. You might say the only certainty in my life is uncertainty.
I couldn’t tell you how many men have bought me, not that it matters. I prefer not to remember them.
In Thailand, we do not talk of such private matters. It is not customary to talk of things that should be forgotten. It is also of little concern to a girl of my standing. The only thing that matters is the baht that I am paid.
Though I suspect that mine is not the worst existence in the world, I must confess I wouldn’t know if it was. I know of little else.
I believe in karma, and it is this belief that has helped me to come to terms with the brutality and poverty that has been so prominent in my life. The basic concept of karma revolves around the law of cause and effect – for every action there is a reaction. We are the sum total of our actions, past and present, and it is the nature of these actions that determines the pain or joy we experience in each life. I had come to the conclusion that I must have done some terrible deeds in the past to warrant such a turbulent present.
It is difficult for anyone who has not experienced true poverty to empathize with the full horror of such a life. It’s like being a mere shadow of a human being; the outline has been drawn but you’re still waiting to be coloured in.
Contrary to what most people believe, it is usually women who recruit other women into vice. Gaining face plays an important role in the recruitment strategy. Parents boast about how they have bought a new house on money their daughters have sent them each month, although they fail to mention how it is earned. Neighbours who want to keep up then encourage their daughters to work in prostitution to make equal amounts of money. In Thailand, children are expected to be grateful to their parents. Men can earn merit by becoming monks, while women sell their bodies to feed their parents’ materialistic craze.
Contrary to what our customers would like to believe, bar girls do not enjoy selling their bodies. We fake moaning and feign enjoyment to arouse the men further, hoping they will ejaculate quickly. Of course it eases the unpleasantness somewhat if the customer is not fat, does not smell like a pot-bellied pig, and is easy on the eye. But offering your body up to strangers to use and abuse as they see fit is not a vocation any woman chooses, but rather is one born of desperation.
My belief in reincarnation gives me the strength to go on. I see this life as just another chapter in a never-ending sequence of lives; perhaps this particular installment doesn’t have a happy ending, but I pray to Buddha that the sequel will be different.