‘Take me home, country road…’

EI SAMAY 5

PUBLISHED IN EI SAMAY

A car cuts through the lush, green paddy fields. Kids run behind it, laughing, shouting, cajoling. The car stops infront of a small hut. The clay oven is aflame in the courtyard. Rice is cooking. A woman is sitting behind it. She seems lost. Lost in the thoughts of a daughter who left …

‘Ma, ma…’ A shockwave runs through her. Whose voice? No, it can’t be…

Breathless, she runs out. A small crowd has formed around the car by then. She pushes through the crowd. Her child, the apple of her eyes, has come back. Tears blur everything. Still she tries to wipe out her daughter’s eyes first. But to no avail. ‘Yes ma, I’m back. They tortured me, to my death, almost. But I’ve come back.’

The hollow of her eyes are dark. Shameless, gaping wounds run through the body. Cuts, bruises, cigarette burns. Clotted blood, here and there.

Someone had taken her away with promises of work. She was sold to an agency in Delhi.

The agency supplies 24 hour domestic helps to well-off families in the national capital. But not on monthly salaries. This particular girl was sold to her tormentors in 30 thousand rupees. The monthly salaries went to the agency as per the contract. The child was left with the brutalities and sexual perversion of her ‘employers’.

This child could return, for her mother took her back. She is of the rarest lot, a lucky one, those who found solace in their own families. Those, who could heal in the warmth and love of near and dear ones.

But what of the unlucky ones? Those who are declared ‘fallen’ by the society? Those who are shunned by their own parents? Behind one tale of reconciliation such as this, lie countless sagas of darkness.

Kamala too was lured in by a promise of well-paid job. Instead she got sold into a kothi in G.B Road. Kamala was strong. She resisted the attempts to barter her body with all her might. Retribution was swift. They tortured her. They stripped her naked and hit her with a belt. But Kamala was adamant.

The kothimalkin then devised another route. In the dead of night, a regular client entered Kamala’s chamber. He tore through her like a bloodhound. Kamala’s body was battered, defeated. But not her spirit.

Kamala was in that hell-hole for the sum total of one and a half month. She was rescued after that. In those few days she had gained many years. Kamala was not a girl anymore. But amidst all the pain, a searing hope remained. She was going home. Finally!

Hours ticked on. Days, weeks, months, years … Nobody took her home. Nobody came to see her.

Kamala almost regrets her rescue now. ‘Perhaps I was better off there,’ she says. ‘I was tortured. Those animals defiled me every day. Yet I had a place to live. Got to eat twice a day … But here? Here I am just trapped. Every day they take me to the court. But nobody takes me home…’ Her mutterings are most disconcerting.

Kamala doesn’t know yet, the trial has ended. Her trafficker too has been sentenced. But she cannot go home. Never. Her family considers her ‘fallen’.

Kamala’s parents were informed in due time. But they refused to take her back. Back home, she has three younger sisters. If she is taken back, the society would shame them. Nobody would marry them. Her parents could not take her back. After all, ‘What would others say…?’ Kamala, their darling, has died for them. And that boy next door? Who promised that they would be together? No words from him, either.

Kamala’s address is now ‘NirmalChhaya’,  government home. It has been 7 years since she escaped that hell-hole. Nobody has taken her home. She has forgotten what affection is.

Rabeyatoo reminisces a lot. Her Nikah was a grand affair, she remembers. Her husband adored her. Together the newlyweds were weaving dreams of a beautiful life ahead. But that one wish ruined everything. Oh, why did she insist on that merry-go-round? Abdul too conceded. That day he returned home early from work. Rabeya was ready in her best clothes, that red and green sari, glass bangles, jhumkas.

They went to the fair. The fair, that took away everything she had. She remembers it vividly. People, colours, jubilations all around.The jalebis, fuchkas, bhelpuris, bangles, clips, mirrors … and the merry-go-round. When it goes on top, you can see past the station, the village …

Abdul had gone to fetch the tickets for the merry-go-round. Rabeya was standing beneath it. Suddenly a hand grabbed her face from behind. Then darkness. Regaining sense, Rabeya discovered she was naked. And a blinding weight of another body upon her. She was at G.B Road, Delhi.

Rabeya’s route to freedom was not an easy battle. But it’s all meaningless now. Her traffickers are in prison now. So is she. In the invisible prison of a ‘civilized’ society.

Rabeya and Kamala form the majority of the girls rescued from these rackets. Their family and society shuns them. The government doesn’t care. There is no proper rehabilitation system for these women. They are kept in government homes till the trial is on. After that, government shuns all responsibilities. Those who cannot go home, has nowhere to go, literally.

There are some N.G.Os that provide shelter to these women. But the numbers are grossly inadequate. For the majority, future is as bleak as the past. Some of them choose to go back in the darkness. Some are re-trafficked.

They are the unlucky lot. The tears have dried, for nobody wiped them out.

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