Voices In My Head-The Story Of Lost Innocence
This is a story of lost innocence, pain and suffering, lie and deceit. This is also a story of hope and prayer, dreams and promises. This is the story of Asha.
Ensuing many hard, long and painful nights, I am finally in my shabby and dingy room all by myself. It is surprising because such nights seldom made an appearance in all these years. I do not really like recollections of old memories because they cut me like a knife and I bleed from within. But tonight I have time, time to recline upon the chair at the corner of my room and rewind through my life that has gone by before my eyes. My childhood was blissful and filled with bright hues and I am sometimes envious of my old self thinking about how happy I was…how free I was!
Usually, thoughts of my childhood are rare because most nights, it is the smell of flesh and the feel of groping hands that block any happy memories whatsoever. You know, I had many friends; we were quite a handful and gave everyone around a troubled time. After school, I would reach home, throw my schoolbag around, eat whatever little food mother had prepared for me and rush to the playground to play with my friends. Sometimes, my mother dragged me out of the playground by my hair when I refused to return home even after it was dark. She would beat me black and blue but soon after, wrap her arms around me and goodness would be restored back on earth.
I am still beaten today by the filthy men I have to deal with, every time I refuse to fulfil their ungodly demands. No arms come to wrap around me today to make me realize that good prevails over bad.
I hope to go back to school, I hope to hear the chime of my mother’s bangles as I watched her work in the kitchen, I hope to hear my sister’s chuckle, I hope to run back to the times when I heard my father snore. I had found it increasingly irritating but now I realize that it was the sweetest melody on earth. I hope to feel my mother’s touch instead of the burly men’s… I hope she would oil my hair and smell the scent of sweet jasmine instead of the intoxicated breath of foul men. Fate played a cruel trick on me, so cruel that it was enough to make the devil shudder out of fear.
I curse the day he came home. I curse myself for being so naive. I curse myself for dreaming.
Life took a cruel turn one fine day. My distant relative came to my village one hot summer afternoon. He offered to take me to the city and promised my parents to bear the cost of my education. The expenses of my education were weighing heavily on my parents and the proposal sounded good. Little did I or my parents know what this so-called relative had in his dubious mind.
A day later, I began to pack my bags for the city with hopes of a better life. Who would have known that I was actually preparing for a journey to hell? I hugged my father; my mother kissed my forehead and my little sister clung to me and I could not hold back my tears. I trusted my relative with all my heart and in the next five minutes, I was on a bus for the city. I was innocent and my parents were naive and gullible. I had already begun to miss my home but I was optimistic that life had great things in store for me.
As I entered the big city, I saw tall skyscrapers. Never in my life had I seen so many vehicles on the road and there was so much light and colour all around me that for a moment, I completely forgot about home. My relative took me to a shady place. I saw mainly girls and women with very thick makeup on and minimal clothing there. I was then introduced to a fat lady and as soon as she saw me; she pulled my cheeks and looked at me from top to bottom as though scanning me. I began to feel awkward just when the lady took my uncle to another room and I overheard them bargaining for money.
Yes! You got it right, I was sold for a mere ten thousand rupees by my relative. A mere ten thousand rupees! That was my worth.
I received the biggest jolt of my life that shook my entire being. I tried to force my way out of the brothel but I could not as a man tied my mouth, my hands and my legs with a piece of cloth. I was beaten and dumped in a small room in the basement. My body bore unimaginable marks and I felt like a slave.
As days passed by, I realized that a slave led a better life. I spent hours under the shower trying to wash away the filth that gripped my body. But dirt and pain were now rooted and never seemed to leave. I felt like putting a noose around my neck and ending the unbearable pain once and for all. I will not deny the fact that I tried to put an end to my life but it was my name that kept me alive and going.
No one ever asked for my name. If there was anything at all that I was asked for, it was my rate. I doubt if the company that I have, knows my name. But my parents had so lovingly named me ASHA. Just in case you didn’t know the meaning of my name, it means HOPE. My parents had hopes that I would bring them out of their misery and change their fortune. I had hopes that I would someday make them proud. But here I was, reduced to nothing more than a commodity. The marks all over my body eventually faded away but my heart and my soul were scarred for life.
As I now sit in my dark room and narrate the story of my life to you, I feel a faint light of hope glimmer somewhere within me, hoping that my story will provoke and inspire you to save other Ashas in the making if not this, from this inferno!
Dedicated to all our sisters who never lost hope.
Author - Paulomi Chakraborty