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Name: Janki. Age: 28
Education: Class 12
Hails from: Mehsana, Gujarat

Janki is from a family that once was considered well off.

Life was a stroll; her wedding had been fixed. But Gujarat's killer quake in January 2001 rattled the carefully nourished dreams of Janki's family.

Her house was in the top floor of a three-storied building. Her house was not damaged in the quake. But, as irony would have it, her father had a heart attack while running down the stairs and died. After that, the responsibility of shoring up the family fell on Janki. She broke her engagement and started a playschool.

It did not help things much, so she moved to Mumbai in search of a job. She did get a job, but it didn't pay her as well as she thought it would. She had a younger brother and two younger sisters to look after. She had to earn enough to fund their education.

She tried changing jobs, but the maximum she could ever muster in one month was Rs 3,500. Then, one of her acquaintances in Mumbai suggested she find work as a bar dancer. Janki weighed the options. Her family needed the money and she had to get it fast. So, Janki stepped into the world of dance bars. It has been one-and-a-half-years now.

She earns anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 a month. Half the amount is sent to her family in Mehsana.

Her younger sister is studying in class 12, the brother is in class 10 and the youngest sister is in class 7.

What next? "I'll stick to this work for another two years. After that, I will leave," Janki said. "Nobody wants to leave this job because it pays well. But I am very clear that I will leave it after two years."

Prod her more and you get the answer. She is in love. It is a married man in Gujarat, who met her in one of the bars. "He loves me very much and has respect for me. After two years, I will settle down with him."

Does she have any regret that she could be destroying a family? "He loves me. Nothing else matters."

Photographs: Arun Patil

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