That day in her life...
Dated 24th August 2008,
It was the first time I saw her face, she was beautiful…………..
It was a bright Autumn Sunday morning… I had taken a month off and wanted to come to Bangalore to see my uncle and aunt and yes indeed; their 20yr old daughter.
I had always loved the journey I made through the express trains; it’s an amazing ride all the way from Chennai to Bangalore. I reached Bangalore safe and sound the next morning, and had the best of the Briyani made by my aunt and nothing better than a good deep sleep after eating a full tummy, screw what the doc’s said about sleeping after eating… :) I just loved it, and did just that.
Am an explorer in my own ways, I love the travelling, the people, the culture and best of all the food…!!! I just love em all….The next day morning; I took my Sony cyber shot SLR camera and packed myself a sandwich and took the number 8 bus and left to see the Lal Bagh botanical gardens, coz I wanted to take a few shots of the birds and flowers.
I reached the park like around 9:30am and started walking, as I walked I saw a bright little kingfisher sitting on the top branch of a big oak tree, I just loved the sight, I took my cam and settled right there for a great shot, I slowly zoomed in, the little bird looked at me; gave a sweet little chirp and flew away, and zoom he was gone…. I was so thwarted. I just missed a great shot right there. If I’d taken it; it would have come out so amazing. I didn’t have a clue what to do next, I looked around and saw a bench behind me to the right, there was a young girl whom I assume would be in her 20’s sitting there dressed in a bright red salwar. My leg was badly aching and I really needed to sit, so I walked backwards and slowly uttered an “Excuse me, can I sit here” to her, she answered nothing…I didn’t mind, so I just sat there, stretched out and relaxed my legs.
I saw her face the first time, she looked really fine, a perfect city make up with bright cheeks and a perfect face. I wouldn’t say she looked pretty but I sure would gladly love to see her one more time. I did turn again to see it in secrecy, but this time I noticed that she was crying, just silent tears flowing through her cheeks and while crying she clutched her cell phone and mumbled to herself… I couldn’t really do anything there, but to wait and see if I could help. And in the next few seconds it all happened so fast….. She threw her mobile and broke down on the grass floor; weeping… At this moment people all over thought I had something to do with her crying… And I was so stymied with what was happening, I just looked at her straight in her eyes and said “Hello, Do you have any problem?” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ‘Nothing, mind your business”... I thought I deserved the answer and came back to sit on the bench. I looked around and saw her purse scattered all under the bench, I bent over to pick it up for her, and when I did, I saw 2 condoms fallen over and when I picked up the purse I did see a few inside the purse. I couldn’t interpret what I was seeing, I told myself what is wrong with this girl? I picked everything and slowly placed it next to her; I heard a silent “thanks”.
I replied with a welcome and kept mum. After 15 to 20 minutes of complete silence, she broke it and asked me if I was a photographer. I said “No” and replied that am a Media guy working abroad who has come for a vacation. I asked her what she was doing for a living…. She kept silent…. And then she slowly replied “You don’t want to know”….. I instantly realized what her enigmatic answer could be… Yes, it was understandable for me; she was indeed a prostitute in the city of Bangalore.
I really felt pity for what I was looking here, I told her I understood who she was, and she gave a silent grin and said “thank you, that saves me an embarrassment. I smiled back and said “I really don’t think you are”. After sometime I showed her a few snaps I took earlier in Chennai and she was truly impressed. While breaking the ice, I slowly asked her why she cried, she told me all about what has happened to her, she was 16 when she was transported her by a pimp through a lorry from Lucknow, her dad sold her for Rs.5000/ (USD $100). She was raped on the way by the lorry driver and later brought to Bangalore in rags. She was later sold here to a brothel for Rs.10,000 and; there on made to work from 6am to 12am every single day. She is given Rs.100 per day even though she makes 20,000 a day. I had a very painful moment listening to all what she was saying, I felt really sorry for what she was going through.
As she kept speaking to me, the only questions running through my mind was, “Why on earth is this happening?” Why are woman abused and kept in such tare levels of the society, when will this change? I didn’t know what or how to act to all of this. I just had little tears in my own eyes, but I thought to myself that sitting here and crying for her is not going to change anything... I looked up and turned towards her and said “Why did you break down crying”... she told me that she had an affair with one of the guys who came to her as a customer and that he promised to take her to Mumbai and get married to her, the previous night he came and picked up all her money and jewels , her life long savings selling herself...and asked her to wait at the park sharply at 9am… I looked at my watch; it was 11:30am!!! I knew the guy wasn’t planning to come here or indeed to get married to her. I knew even after all this pain; she has just been used again...
I asked her what her plan was; she said she had no clue and bent down and sobbed…she told me that if she went back to the brothel, they would kill her or sell her back to some other pimp. I knew I had to act fast before something dramatic happened.
I sat there thinking what is the best thing I can do to get this girl going in life again... I remembered that of my aunt’s lady friend was involved in a private orphanage for kids, so I called up my aunt and got their number. I stood up, and walked a while away from the bench and spoke to them and told them all about her…After 30 minutes of serious discussions. I slammed my phone down and came running to her; I looked at her and I just said these few words “If you truly trust me, come with me”…. She looked up with tears and asked me “where”… I said “Home”…………
We both got up; each with a confused mind, and I slowly picked up my cam and just a second later I heard the most beautiful chirp in my life ever, I looked around first, there was nobody and then looked up and there he was; looking at me…!!! I didn’t care to open my camera shutter, instead I just looked at him and smiled within and thought to myself “I guess I didn’t come here for just the picture after all”…..he chirp'd back again.....
May be out there in this world, there is no God nor religion, there is only hope, prayers love, and many a times there isn't God coming to save us or others; at times that God is US ! If you have the heart and the willingness to help, look no further, take your strength and be a change in somebody's life. If you ever come across things which you feel you can help, don’t stand and stare, just do it. It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly whats just passing us in this world. The future of our worlds will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task."To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being”
* Rekha now works for the Ark Foundation- Bangalore, helping the little orphan children; she no longer practices prostitution and is living happily under the help and support of the staff and children of the institution.