I suddenly turned back and was slightly surprised to found a twenty plus girl, with a nonchalance smile on her face.
“Do I know her?” I whispered to myself still looking at the figure next to me in a great dilemma.
I am not able to recollect what I noticed first about that lean girl, but yes, her peculiar chiding and deep tensed face soon attracted my attention.
“Could you please tell me where this address is?” she spoke hurriedly in a very requesting tone, taking out certain piece of paper from left pocket of her low – waist jeans.
I was getting late for my dance classes, so without comprehending, I tried to keep it simple. I at once told her to excuse me.
She again pleaded to guide her to the intended address.
“Only 15 minutes are left and I need to reach to this address, otherwise I may lose my day’s pay.” She murmured loud enough to be audible to me.
Taking paper from her hand, I noticed that the required address was fourth or fifth house in the next lane. I was also going through the same route, so I offered that I would accompany her. She readily accepted.
In the meantime, I noticed that she was an average looking girl, with mesmerizing deep black eyes and long hair. She was wearing a simple pair of blue jeans and white sleeveless top and was carrying a maroon satchel. Yes, her extra shining eye – shadow and uncommon deep blue colored eye liner and very high pencil hill were somewhat giving her a very conspicuous look. Her low fluency in speaking Hindi and stammering while speaking, let me to conclude that she was from non – Hindi speaking states. I tried to avoid her as much as I could, but could not resist asking her name.
“Hey, What is your name? Why are you in so hurry to reach the address?” I reluctantly asked.
On hearing this, she jerked as if woke up from some very deep thoughts.
“I am…… I am Kalpana. I came from Murshidabad, West Bengal. I was the youngest of three siblings and was very dear of all.” She replied in a stammering low pitch.
After that she again paused. Her silence came as a covert for me. I thought that I might be interrupting in confidential affairs of a girl. So, I tried to divert my mind from Kalpana. But, this secrecy came as a surprise for me and my mind began to contemplate about what she was hiding from me.
Kalpana….. Nice name. I said to myself.
“Hi Kalpana. I am Kavita. I was getting late for my dance class, so I did not bother to entertain you. I am really very sorry.” I tried to relieve from the sin of ignoring a person in need by asking for forgiveness.
“Do you study?” Kalpana asked in a very serious tone.
“Yups.” I replied.
She instantly replied with a noticeable glitter in her eyes, “You are very lucky madam.”
“Oh come on. You can call me just Kavita. We are of the same age group”.
It is a basic human nature that a person always wants to know secret and hidden things. After some light talk, my mind again began to dig out the clandestine facts.
I said to myself, “she is definitely hiding something.”
“Kalpana, you did not tell me, why are you in so hurry and you also mentioned that you will lose your pay in case you will not reach there within 15 minutes.” I almost spoke the whole line in same breath.
“Oh God! It slipped from my mind. I have to reach at the address by 1.” She uttered increasing her walking pace and even requesting me to hurry up.
For almost 2 minutes, we both remained silent and only ear striking wind’s voice of summer loo could be heard. Then, she suddenly picked up.
“My baba (father) was a very poor man. We had very small piece of land and that too was occupied by a village zamindar (landlord). It was very hard for my baba to feed three of us from that meager income. He was not a bad person. He was not……….”
Then, again she paused for few seconds.
“One day, a guy, Rakesh, who had been long migrated to Delhi at very tender age from our village, came to see my baba. He persuaded my baba to marry me to him. He told that he would take me to Delhi and also talk to his boss to keep my elder brother on job. Hearing all this, my baba got trapped by this idea.”
Staring at me, she continued, “Memsaheb, we were very simple people. We easily believed on his treachery. Poors have no option, but to believe on the persons, who shows way of prosperity and income. My baba married me off to him. He took me to Delhi. After few days, he started ill treating me. He even insisted and forced me to work in brothels. When I refused, he began to beat me vociferously and gave me electric shocks.” While speaking, I noticed that a few drops of tears fell from her eyes, swayed with hot wind and lost somewhere.
I was so shocked to hear all that. I began to imagine the pain of the girl, in whom I found a friend few minutes ago.
“Dint you complain to police?”
With a disgusting smile, she said, “Police….. These people can sell even their souls for few pennies.”
“Why dint you return back to your home?”
“Which home? Madam, we were poor, but respectable persons. My baba could not bear the pain that his daughter is being forced to work in brothel and died after few days of my marriage in deep stupor, and my brother went missing after a severe flood during same year of my marriage.”
“Dint you went to women centres?”
“Women centres have no place for migrants and illiterates like me.”
“Rakesh used to keep me in chains and lock rooms, whenever he needed to go out. One day, I came to know that he had sold me off for some fifty thousand. That was the rate, fixed by my husband for me. Some well built persons came and took me with them. Madam, am I a bad girl? Am I a girl to be despised off?”
“No, Kalpana. You are really a very brave girl.” I instantly replied with some reverence towards her.
I noticed that we reached at the address. She saw time in her watch and blissfully exclaimed “still 2 minutes are left. Thank you mam. Look, he is my client.”
I was totally lost in a different world at that moment. A world, where only girls like Kalpana were there. A world, where I inculcated strong hatred feelings towards the system and the so – called venerable society.
Several thoughts were flashing in my mind. “How can a man does so with his wife? Does this society is for men only? Why conditions of women are not improving, instead of so many years of Independence and so many pledges of women empowerment?”
While opening the gate of the house, she turned back and loudly cried, “Kavita”.
I was still standing at the same place, totally lost in dither thoughts. I swayed at her.
She continued, “I have to do all this to survive. Society has left no option for a girl like me and this is my only source of livelihood. Abhorred from everywhere, I have no place to go. In this world, survival is more important than respect or values. This is the ultimate reality. I am not a prostitute. I am not………”.
She went inside, but I could not lift my leg to take any further steps. I was feeling like the whole burden of womanhood fell on my shoulders. I was feeling like I was burying in the earth at that place. I wanted to tell her that I might help her in rehabilitation, that I would take her to some women centres. But, the next thought came to my mind was, till when Kalpanas need Kavitas for rehabilitation, till when Rakeshs keep on shattering Kalpanas, till when babas keep on dying in contempt. I wanted to scream, loud enough to be heard by everyone. But, all I could speak with a choked throat was, “she is not a prostituteeee…………..”