Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Changed Her Life?


As the early morning rays of the sun fell on the tall trees bordering the small city of Kaliganj, the entire village geared up to complete their household chores. It was just another day for everyone but Kusum, who lay awake on her flimsy charpaai, staring at the thatched roof that would, without a doubt, give way to the rains due this year. But she was not worried about the roof, not the least bit.  She had her future to worry about. Exactly 262 days back, she had turned 15. Curious about her body, that morning, she had stared at her reflection in the one and only mirror they had in the house. Taking advantage of her baba being not in the house and her amma tirelessly talking to their neighbour Sukhmani tai, Kusum cupped her breasts in her hands and wondered if they would ever grow as big as her amma’s. Though she belonged to a conservative village where women were not allowed to flash their skins, she was always awed by the big posters that hung near the well just outside their village. She saw the heroines dressed in kinky clothes showing their cleavage.  She always wanted to look like them, wear clothes like them, and walk in high heels like them. Day and night, she wished that the good lord would give her an opportunity and let her live that life. Little did she know that one dreadful day in her life would take away her right to dream.

***

2 days after her birthday, clad in a white salwar kameez, she was returning from school, when Kusum was abducted by 2 strange looking expressionless men. She thought they looked strange because their eyes were much fierce than what she had ever seen. They forcibly blind folded her and pushed her in what she thought was a jeep. She always wanted to sit in a car but this journey was an unpleasant one. She was already blinded to what was happening around her, there was a little chance of her escaping the ordeal. Sitting between two bulky men who repeatedly kept falling on her on what seemed like a curve of the road, Kusum felt uncomfortable in her seat. Her legs had been spread and in between she could feel something that seemed like a thick rod. She had seen it before but did not know what it was called. The only thing she knew about it was every car had one fitted in the front seat. The guy on her right kept touching it and every time he pushed it down towards he legs, he would touch her there. She felt the urge to push him away but he was too big for her.
After what seemed like ages, they stopped the car and pulled her out. Instantly, her hands moved to remove the blindfold for she wanted to see where they had stopped but at that very moment she was slapped across her face. Shocked, she gulped hard and decided not to do anything. She thought about her baba and amma. They wouldn’t know about her absence until late that evening. She had promised Lakshmi tai that she would cook for her today. Lakshmi tai was expecting a baby and had nobody to help her. As Kusum thought about her, a tear trickled down her cheek. Innocently, she asked God for forgiveness. An eerie silence enveloped her. Since the time she had been picked up by those men, she hadn’t heard a single word. Those strange looking men did not even talk to each other, though she heard some grunts coming from one of the men, probably the one sitting on her left. Kusum tried to understand what was happening to her when, suddenly, one of the men took hold of her hand and pulled her towards him. She lost her balance and, with a jerk, landed on the floor, her fingers twitching in his burly hand.
Still kneeling on the floor, she felt two hands reach out to her breasts. She wasn’t sure whether he was touching her breasts for pleasure or was her trying to make her stand up. Before she could make up her mind to stand on her feet, she felt another pair of hands on her shoulder that pushed her down. She let out her first scream. They tried to turn in every possible direction but those heavy sets of hands didn’t allow her break free. She tried and tried but the men pinched every part of her body. She cried. All she wanted at that moment was to escape from there. But that was nearly impossible. One of the men, then, tore away her clothes and she had almost nothing on. For a girl, whose sexual organs had not still not fully developed, this was a nightmare. The man pushed himself inside her. Her heart thumped so hard that she felt that she would faint. Sadly, she had to give in.

***

The images were still clear in her mind. She could feel that thumping again. She had felt it yesterday. She felt it every day. No matter how much she tried to forget what happened that day, the memories refused to fade away. She counted each day as it went by, waiting for her wounds to heal. Her baba and amma had supported her, but she knew that they bowed their heads in shame in front of the other villagers. She knew that nobody would marry her and that she would be boycotted soon enough. What had happened to her couldn’t be reverted, but she had to do something that would help her erase the scars. Once again, she dreamt of the heroines-she wanted to look like them, wear clothes like them, and walk in high heels like them. But this time, she dreamt with a little difference. She didn’t have the money to buy elegant clothes nor did she have any means to learn fluent English. But she would gather enough for her to live her life alone. She would give her body away. She would live a life that she did not want to lead but was forced to lead. She would simply sell herself for money.

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These days, the newspapers are filled with shocking incidences wherein minor girls are raped and left on the streets to fend for themselves. Sometimes, they do not even know what is being done to them.  Those who are strong enough to handle the pressure are the ones who escape, though with a lifelong scar. Social embarrassment, sometimes, forces them to take up prostitution. We are the ones who constitute the society. We are the ones who can help them stand up again. We are the ones who can help them regain their lost confidence. Instead of blaming and boycotting them, we should accept them back in our lives. That would make all the difference.