The title says it all. British author Louise Brown tours you to one of the shadows of the great Badshahi Masjid, the Diamond Market of Lahore which has a rich history of songs, dances, seductions, pleasures, fake and broken promises; and being a source of pleasuring men for centuries since the Mughal-era. It was once a land where the trained courtesans used to conquer the hearts of emperors.
The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a story of Maha, a classical dancer whose virginity was sold to an Arab Sheikh when she was only 12, but her existence cornered in the Walled City. Her fate is gashed with the timeline the author pens in each of the eight chapters, highlighting her struggles in raising money and children.
I am confounded shall I pay my compliments for mustering the author’s courage, bestowed in her for shaping a book blazing her analysis, research, and token of her lifetime in a historic sex market of Lahore or shall I appreciate the writer’s courtesy towards the humans of an entirely different world to whom she spent every inch of monotone…
It is quite a lantern of outcry from the details of a dark frame with hopeless life stories coming from an author who herself is a mother of three young children (by 2000). So I find super-naturally an extraordinary writing from a mother who forwards us a tale of a sex-selling mother Maha and her children i.e., soon-to-be sex workers in early teenhood.
The delicacy of the book lies in the anecdotes, descriptions of customers and various individuals, street foods and religious festivals, and history diggings over national and religious significance. Another impressive factor of reading this account is defining/detailing of the characters. Not only the leading characters have been pedals of bicycles, but also the minor individuals who carry less prominence were folded with some amount of paras.
Reading the book has the comfort of fragmenting the pages by the headings which will ease the readers to read summarized details. Louise also covers the sorry state of transgender/shemale prostitutes in the bazaar. Also the use of Punjabi and Urdu words forward more output towards the meanings for comprehension and adding swear words ignite the sketches of emotions which is quite hilarious at some moments. Enjoyable parts are where Maha always turns ferocious and begins swearing. The author has made a careful observation of Maha.
Overall, The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a book presenting a terrible insider of a low-morale social life of the poor in the city of hearts but simultaneously a marvelous read of a summarized four-year timeline in a red-light district which guarantees interest towards the author’s explanations and research. It is a heartbreaking story that most importantly focuses on the lives of women residing there and confronting the horrors and cries. A ravishing sorrow…