Discriminated For Being The Daughter Of A Sex Worker, Sandhya Nair Is Only Proud Of Her Mother
- IWB Post
- August 21, 2018
“Her strength, her never-giving-up attitude, come what may. I still remember how she used to tell me to keep my head held high and not to lose hope as like the good times are not constant, neither will the bad ones stay. It was incredible to see her courage in a society that didn’t let go of a single chance to taunt her for being a sex worker. I want to live my life with that unbreakable spirit of hers.”
That was the answer of 21-year-old Sandhya Nair when I asked her to tell me that one thing she admired about her mother. She was around 18 when she was taken in by Kranti, an NGO in Mumbai run by Robin Chaurasiya that is rehabilitating daughters of sex workers, giving them the chance to heal, to grow and fulfill their dreams.
It was via Robin that we came in contact with Sandhya, who shared how her life was disrupted, not by the circumstances of her birth, but because of how the society views her. But today, Sandhya is studying in New York’s Vaughn University and has just finished the first year of her bachelor’s course. Currently in Mumbai at Kranti, she is enjoying her vacations with the girls.
As I chatted with her over the phone, one thing was evident, she has evolved into this confident young lady who has a list of goals and possesses the courage to accomplish them all.
So, Sandhya when you complete your education, is there any particular dream of yours that you wish to fulfill?
I don’t feel that education is only about getting into a university and graduating with a degree, it is the experiences I learn from in life. Like in Mumbai, I had been volunteering to help homeless cancer patients in New York, meeting people who have battled unimaginable odds to survive. That’s what I call my real lessons to gain inspiration from.
I have this desire to make the life of my mom and others like her, happier. I know these women, and some of them really love to dance, to sing. So why don’t we encourage them to flourish in the skills they love? My family in Kamathipura is always eager to learn new things, they ask me to teach them what I have learned. I want to be a beacon of positivity for them.
Since you are in Mumbai, how do your days go by as I, personally, find vacations to be a bit on the boring side?
Haha! Not for me. For the past three months, I have been here at Kranti and on August 24th I’ll be flying back to New York. Till now I have volunteered a lot with many NGOs and worked in two-three theatre workshops in Mumbai. I am mostly involved in Theatre of the oppressed (a form of popular community-based education that uses theater as a tool for social change) as it is less professional and more connected to the emotional bonds.
Sounds like you are putting your off time to good use, Sandhya. So, when you get a job in the future, what do you plan to do with your first salary?
Actually, I have worked as an intern with an organization in Banglore for eight months. So when I got my first salary then, undoubtedly wo mumma ke hath mai dia maine. But when I get a job, with my first salary, I want to spend it on the kids here at Kranti on classes they love to attend outside of their regular education, like singing, gardening, dancing, karate, driving, whatever they want to do.
I am sure the girls at Kranti would love that! Tell me about how your life was before you joined Kranti?
I have spent 17-18 years of my life in Kamathipura, the red-light area in Mumbai. My mom quit being a sex worker when I was 4 and started doing domestic work but due to the lack of a steady good income, we couldn’t shift to a better place. Comparatively, I was the happiest when I was at home because in school I was being made fun of because of my dark complexion and the fact that my mother was once a sex worker.
After I came home from school, it was all fun as near my home lived this group of transgenders and they played a crucial role in the years of me growing up. They cared for me, I remember going over to them to play with them.
You had gone through quite a transformation in your life, is there anything that used to scare you before but not anymore?
I was this person who was scared of trusting anyone. I… I was sexually abused when I was 10 years old, but then I had no idea about what was happening to me. I was 16 when I came to know that it was sexual abuse and I was… shattered, unable to trust anyone, even the closest people to me and that included my mom.
I am undergoing therapy since I joined Kranti and though I am still far from completely reclaiming my peace of mind, I am fortunate that I can say that today I am more trusting, more comfortable in my relationships.
Good for you, Sandhya! Your spirit serves as an inspiration to girls who combat similar life issues. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
That no matter what discrimination you face, be it about your colour, background, always know that what others term as your weakness can be your biggest strength. Fight for yourself, know that you are beautiful as long as you are YOU! It doesn’t matter where you come from, let people judge, don’t let it bother you, rise above it and above all LOVE YOURSELF!