At the stroke of midnight, when Mumbai is in deep sleep, I took my dazzling red purse and headed towards the railway station. I put on my pink gloss, colossal kajal and strokes of pink blush on my face. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed the heel of my red sandal in two parts. Ghosh..!!! It must be Chintu’s work. But now instead of weeping or crying out, I have decided to walk bare foot.
First I went to temple around the corner of street and folded my hands to pray to God that at least I get good deals tonight. It has been three days and I haven’t found a single customer despite my several attempts. Today, I have decided not to come back without money or else Chintu and I have to starve from tomorrow. Chintu is my 4 year old son. He is the only reason for my smile and life.
My drunkard dad and my step mother worked as daily wagers in a construction company. I have one younger brother, 2 step brothers and one step sister. As we grew up, things became worse financially. This is when I my step mother’s true colours came out. She always made me do all the work and complained to my dad. One fine day, she advised my dad to send me to work in a city so that they can lead a comfortable life with the money I earn. It was me of all the kids because she had extreme hatred towards me as I back answered and wasn't ready to take blame on me and I am the one on whom she has to spend thousands of rupees for wedding.
She convinced my dad and sold me to a business man in Pune. Although they made me work all the day, proper food and clothes were given. Their twenty year old son whom I called Bhaiyya (brother) was the only friend in the house. He bought me chocolates and cookies. My memories back home never faded away. There was not a single day passed without waiting for someone from my family to come and take me back.
That day when everyone was out, I was in kitchen cleaning utensils. I felt warmth around my belly. Two hands passed around my belly to breasts. I was shaken and looked back. It was BHAIYYA..!! I tried to get rid of his hands but I couldn't. And it was done..!! It was repeated for several times in few months, when madam was out for beauty parlour, parties, and gatherings. He always made excuses to stay at home until then I ran from the house bluffing them. I could not tell to anyone as I knew no one would believe me.
I sat at bus stop, slept in railway station and ate leftovers on roadside. In Pune railway station, a lady smiled at me and offered me few biscuits. I was so hungry that I could not deny the offer. she took me to her home, made me comfortable. Sarita didi brought me to Mumbai. She pushed me into this work, threatened me when denied. She is familiar with many big shots, police and Mafia. There are 30 young girls like me, who were thrown here willingly and unwillingly.
My life was no less than hell initially until I got used to it. This has become my livelihood. It is Chintu’s birth which has brought back hope and desire to live. I want to send him to English school and wish to see him working in the huge glass building.
It is 3.30 Am and I thought to return back having made enough money to meet my needs for next four days. While returning back, in the corner of the old Chowrasta road, I could see a little girl trying to hide herself behind the tree. It is dark and I couldn't see her face. She is shivering and startled to move. I took her hand in mine, smiled at her and kissed her. I asked “Why are you alone in the midnight? and where is your family? She replied “I ran from the house where I am working”.
I could see my story in her eyes, I could see my tears in hers, I could see my mourn in hers.
I am baffled as to what to do with the little girl, whether to take her with me or leave her to her fate. I heard a voice then “ Sandhya..do what your heart says”. It is my soul speaking from deep. I have decided to give Chintu elder sister. He always has too many questions about his Baba, and family. I never had an answer as I have no clue who could be Chintu's Father.
Coincidentally tomorrow is Rakhi..!!!.
When the city is in deep sleep, I am awake watching the dark of the night.