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Bindi Bottoms
Geeta Masseuse, Patna

"My bag is quite famous amongst my customers; they call it Geeta ka pitara. It is like a galaxy of oil bottles, in all shapes, with all sorts of odors and for all purposes. You name your requirement and I’ll pull out a bottle for you. I have har marz ki dawa, maybe because bruised souls have a healing touch.

As happens to many Indian girls, when I was very young, my stepmother married me off to a complete stranger. Even before I could understand what marriage was all about, my husband left me for another woman forcing me to return home with a sorry face. I did not feel any hurt then, probably because I hadn’t understood the meaning of happiness yet. Soon, I was married a second time to quite an elderly man. I had three lovely children but, just when I had happiness within my grasp, my husband died. I was left to fill in the remaining pages of my life all alone. The only way to let out some of my emotions was to sing them out at night. Even today my children pretend to sob when they sing a lullaby, because they think that is the correct way to sing it.

It took me many months of unemployment to finally decide what I wanted. My choices were to become a domestic help, a cook or a sweeper. In all these professions, I would have had to maintain long-term relationships with my employers – I’d probably see them every day, for years on end. I felt I was not good at it. So, I chose a different path - I am a masseuse. I go from home to home to give massages and charge forty rupees an hour. People call me when they are in pain, when someone is pregnant or has just given birth, when their muscles feel old or when they are stressed. These connections are quite short-lived.

What people love the most about me is the stories I tell. I share small pieces of my life and my clients often face the choice between a relaxing massage that lulls them to sleep and a captivating story. Sometimes people call me the next day, just to hear the end of the story - or sometimes to complete their remaining sleep.

I believe that it is my destiny to only know people for a short while. I feel that brief connections are the key to a happy life. I know people enough to deal with them but never long enough to make them an inevitable part of my life."


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