I checked into a 3 or 4 star hotel. I will not name it.
I had driven for exactly 4.5 hours , gone through the checkpoints and driven to this hotel. It was 8 pm.
I entered the room , a junior suite in this hotel. The hotel employee put my stuff in the room. On my right was a “bar”. Medium sized bottles of every famous spirit you can think of. I opened the refrigerator. Beers and drinks. Small sized bottles of every spirit you can think of. BOOZE. These are goodies our youth drives to every weekend. LOL. I don’t drink though. Don’t like losing my mind for anything. Especially a liquid that will do nothing great for me. Plus, why do something that will work against me, both mentally and spiritually? Na..
Then the man took out a piece of paper and wrote down a list of room numbers and handed it to me. I asked him what this was. He said ” There is Arab, Russian, Romanian, Turkish and Bosnian girls in these rooms. You just call, and they will come. 50 BD for one time. 100 BD for an hour. 300 BD for all night. If you want more drinks, I will get for you sir. “.. and he left.
This was one of those rare trips I made alone. I never leave without my family. Mainly because I miss them so much that I cannot sleep at night. But, this was a short , work trip and I had no time for family – so I drove to Bahrain alone. I chose a cheap hotel because I was not in the ” resort” or “luxury” mode. I was in a ” Get it done and leave” mode.
I sat down on the sofa. Switched on the TV. Lit a cigarette. Ordered some coffee. And, I looked at that list. My mind drifted into the past. To Cyprus. When I was a student. When I was single. When a single smile from a beautiful girl made me and my friends sing songs all evening and look stupid. When , we were simple and pure. When, more than sex – being a HERO was important. When, we did stunts like jumping over huge barrels. Driving fast cars. Racing. Fighting. Being tough.
Now, let me tell you. I was never a very dedicated student. If I looked serious and focused in a class, it was because I liked the subject and the teacher was good. Otherwise, I never cared for grades, degrees and the drama that comes with it. But, yes, I could study a NIGHT before an exam and get a B at least and get rid of the pressure of family and friends. ” YOU MUST STUDY”..
One such night , me and my 3 friends were studying for a DAMN BORING course: Economics 102. What a pain that course was! We sat there studying. Talking. Joking. Laughing. Then studying again. We got hungry. We all decided that I will go and buy us ” Submarines”.. a very delicious cheese sandwich. I was more than happy to leave. I got in my car and drove off to Eleftheria Square. The downtown of Nicosia. I wanted to buy smokes also. So, I drove into the old city where there was a 100-year-old mosque. The only Mosque in Nicosia. Right behind the Mosque was the Red Light Area. Cheap and quick service area where the low lives of Nicosia went for low-level , perverted pleasures. Middle aged women sat with doors open , selling themselves for 10-20 pounds.
It was cold. Late. And the night was scary. The area was scary. And I liked the thrill.
I was there , of course, to get cigarettes from a Kiosk right at the end of the “SUSU” road. That was the name of the Red Light area.
I drove in. Doors open on my right and left. Some ugly faces , some old women.. and some were beautiful to be very honest. I drove to the end of the road. Parked and got out to go buy my stuff. I had a Diahatsu Charment. Nothing was automatic in the car. I parked on the right side of the road, where the Right side “shops” had ended. On my left was the last “door” of that road. A lady sat on a chair , smoking and looking at me. Probably thinking that a customer had arrived and he wanted to get something from the Kiosk before he engaged her. Much to her dismay, I bought what I needed and headed back to my car. At the time, that is how I saw it.
I had locked the car keys INSIDE the car. The car was locked and keys in the ignition!
STUPID! UGH! DAMN!
I had done this before, and I knew I could open the door with a wire or a screwdriver. But, apart from the Perverts of society, Police used to patrol this road also and if they saw me sticking something inside the door of a locked car at this time of the night on this street, they WOULD stop and question me. And, I did not want that hassle. So, I thought I would wait for them for a while and let THEM resolve this issue for me. They could open the car. Cypriot police are very helpful to people. Just don’t let them catch you doing something wrong. Or even, something that looks wrong.
So , I stood there.
” What is wrong?”, she shouted. I was ignoring her so far. And, I knew she would give a shot to her marketing strategy. And, I thought this was it. But, HEY! I was about to do the Economics 102 exam the next day. I had been dealing with the Professor from Hell, this was nothing.
” I locked my keys in the car”..
” Do you want me to help you? Shall I call the police? They will open it for you”
We had no mobile phones back then ( 1991). And, this was kind of her. So, I said .. yes, please do call them. She called. Hung up. ” They will pass by soon”, she smiled at me.
” Evpharisto Parrapolli” I said.. means: Thank you very much.
” Ineshe provlema manamo” .. No problem Darling. I looked away.
I stood there. She sat there. 5 minutes passed. Ten passed. No police. Lazy asses!
” Thelis cafe?” .. Do you want coffee , she said?
Oh HELL yes.. it was cold.
” Nai.. alla den boro.. ekseris ti..…” .. I said, Sure.. but I cannot.. u know what..
She waved and told me to come.. made a sign that meant.. DON’T WORRY.
She put a chair near hers. There was a heater there. Made some coffee. And, at that moment.. there was no better place to sit.. so I sat there. Nice coffee, warm place. Nevertheless, a Prostitutes place. We sat right outside her door on the street. Cars passed. Bikes passed. I looked at her, she did not care. I told her that she was losing customers because of me, and I was of no benefit to her. She smiled and said ” You need help right now, customers are not important. Helping you is. It is cold and your mother will be so sad if you got sick, right? “. .. this really touched me.
” Why do you do this? “… I asked her.
” Good question.. do you have the heart to listen ? “..
“Yes, I do. I want to know”
” You know.. if you got all the prostitutes of the world in one place and asked them all who prefers to be in this business, maybe only 2 or 3 will say they do it because they like it. The rest do it either because they want drugs, or money for their kids and family. And, yes, some are forced into this by their own men. I have 4 kids. I am uneducated. My husband left me with my kids one day and I have not seen him since. For the first time in my life I went to work in a factory – I was almost raped several times. No one will educate me for free and I do not have time to study and get a better job. I have kids to look after. Honestly, I was left with no choice but this. I went to the Church, I got nothing. I went to every door I could knock on.. and look.. here I am. Doing this. At least, I can take care of my family and no one is my boss.
I saw you drive here and the first thing that came to my mind was.. Oh God! Why is this boy wasting his life in these streets? He should be home. Then I saw you get off to go to the Kiosk. I was happy. You were not interested in me or the other women here. Then, when I saw you had a problem and you were stuck, I thought of your mother. She must be worried about you. So, I offered to help. Then, I saw you were cold, so I made you coffee and offered you to sit near the heater”..
By this time, I was about to cry. I felt like an idiot with no brains.
” Do you want to call your mommy and tell her you are ok? Just don’t tell her you are on this road. Tell her your key is in the car and soon you will come. You know, my son is almost 15″.. I was 21 then.
I could not stop a tear from rolling down my cheek.
” I am not Cypriot. I am a student here. My mother is in Saudi Arabia. She is not worried about this night, She is worried all the time”.. I said.. smiling slightly.
( the conversation was mainly in Greek..)…
” Oh My God!.. You are a foreign student? You speak good greek”
” I did not speak much, You did” , I said to her, ” And you really made me SEE”..
The police came.
” Ti enai o provlema sou re gumbaray.. “, said the officer.. What is it man? or something like that..
I told him. He smiled and said, Why did you not just use a wire and open the door. She stepped in. ” He did not because he did not want trouble from you guys!”..
They opened the door.
I finished my coffee. Thanked her.
” I will come and see you again . God Bless you. You are a GOOD person”
” Don’t come here! This street is not for you. You have bigger and better things to do”
” No, I will pass by sometimes to have coffee with you. You make this street look good! And who knows, Maybe I will help you get a better job” She smiled.. and her eyes said : Yes, I want that. I wish that. Thank you for even thinking of getting me out of here!
Her name was Christina. She must have been 40 something.
I drove off. Weeping like a child. In her talk, I saw the pain in her eyes. The agony. The frustration. The broken dreams. The responsibility of her children. Their education. The Bills. A family. A lonely , battered and broken woman forced to sell what no decent women would even want to show to a stranger!.. What PAIN! My biggest disappointment was my own ignorance. How could I EVER look down on someone? Someone so full of pain, yet willing to go out of her way to help someone!
I got busy with life. Finishing off the degree, getting my first job and then finally opened my first consulting firm in Nicosia. But I never forgot Christina.
One day, when I made my first GOOD profit, I did go to see her. I had money. I would get her out of it I thought. But, when I got there. Her door was locked. Gone. Maybe to another city. Another life.. or away from this life.. A prostitute that helped me for free, out of goodness. As a human being.
I tore the piece of paper with the room numbers. That same old tear of 1991 rolling down my cheek.
Yes, my friends.. the abuse of uneducated women has reached greater heights since 1991..
If you ever think of “Buying” a woman for the night.. know that she is someone’s daughter, sister and mother. She too cries..feels pain. She too has dreams. She too wants to live a clean life. The only way you can stop this dirty business is by not contributing to it. Marry. Marry 1, 2 , 3 or four. But, please do not take advantage of someone’s poverty and need for money. Do not ever do that.