‘Bukit Bintang’ a Street of Kuala Lumpur was flooding with people from all over the world on that night. Chinese New Year was coming. Men, women, solo travelers, couple with kids were walking on street, entering or coming out of restaurants and shops. Lots of Thai and Chinese massage girls and boys stood outside their shops in waiting for customers. Some of them may be a part of dark side of the city’s nightlife. It was our first visit to Malaysia and my family was resting in the hotel room after a long journey. I was just strolling around to see the much gossiped nightlife of this city. It was the first time experience for me to be in such a place. Ignoring the girls chasing me with a 'Menu' of their services in their hand, I was just walking on the pavement along the road.
A girl of my daughter's age, standing below the dim light of building's entrance rushed to me in a hurry and asked me in her Thai tone.
‘Massage Sir? Very relaxing. Will enjoy it. Just 50 Ringgits.’
During my six days stay in Malaysia I had developed a habit to multiply every digit in to 18 to get value in my currency. Nine hundred rupees, I calculated in my mind without knowing why I am counting it in the first place. She was standing very close to me so I had a closer look of her face. She was fair enough for her trade to attract customers; in spite wore a heavy makeup on her face. Her eyes were dark black and mascara she wore was little spoiled from the lower eye lashes. Black of her eyes was shining even in the darkness of night. Her face was producing an unknown expression, very difficult to judge if coming from the tiredness of routine work or from the pain of earning the daily need even in late night. All of a sudden I remembered the warning from my local relatives of not to stop while walking or talk to unknown. I turned and resumed walking, ignoring her presence.
She came behind me asking ' Good massage sir, you will like it.'
I looked back. She was determined to come after me, I thought. I stopped for a while, turned and looked directly in her eyes.
'No my child, I am not tired, I don’t want any massage.’ I told her.
She remained still for a second, may be shocked. Most likely no one on this road ever had addressed her as 'my child.’ She stared at me for some time, searching something. Then she dropped her face to the red tiles of the pavement. I stood there to see her reaction but there wasn’t any. I felt guilty that I called her ‘my child’ which she didn’t like in case. But what can I address to a girl of my daughter's age? Unhurriedly she returned to her place and set on the table near the entrance.
I crossed the road to go other side and returned to the hotel room. Wife was sleeping and daughter was surfing the net on a Tab we had purchased that morning from the 'Low-Yat' mall.
‘Where had you been Papa? I have downloaded a new game.Do you wanna see?’ She said.
I reached behind her and had a look. She was happy that I purchased a Tab for her. I put my hand on her head and caressed her curls. She raised her head to look in my eyes, searchingly. I tapped her chick and smiled. She too.
I went to the washroom and washed my face with cool water from the tap, contaminated with few tears.
Next day, after a panoramic ‘Genting High-land’ tour, we were returned to the hotel by the same road.Night was just spreading its darkness on the street. That girl was standing at the same place, outside the hotel entrance. She looked at us with curiosity. Daughter was talking with me while walking. When we crossed the place where she was standing, I hold my daughter’s hand in mine,looked at that girl and smiled. She too smiled and waved a hand to us.
‘Do you know her Papa?’ Daughter asked.
‘No’ I replied,‘ do we need to know each other for greeting?’
‘Absolutely not.’ She said looking at me.
That was the last night of our tour. Our flight was in the morning. I was standing at my room’s window, looking down on the road. People were wandering on the street and ‘just young’ girls and boys, with beautiful faces, children of unknown parents, chasing the ‘would be’ customers with menus in their hands, offering massage or may be some more pleasure to earn their daily needs. I was happy,for at least one of them was thinking about her parents.