Thinking Aloud 4

Though I was running away from home and from over critical and to some extent abusive parents, I was overcome with grief , I was barely a teenager, totally lost. Love and appreciation was something I never encountered. I had no self worth, or confidence .

We arrived on the vast Bombay central station. Buzzing with crowds and noise, a sea of humanity pushing and shoving trying to get to their destination.

We took a taxi and arrived at the place the couple called their home. It was a two room dingy and dark place in a multi story place Bombay was known for. It smelt, had one toilet on each floor and you have to go downstairs to fetch water. This was totally alien to me , I have grown up in very comfortable environment and have never known an outside toilet or ever had to fetch water from anywhere.

I was though still excited by the prospect of being able to go to school as I was promised, poverty didn’t matter . But that was not forthcoming and their attitude has changed too. They were now stern and unapproachable and there was a constant stream of visitors for whom I have to make tea and look presentable. At last the reality dawned on me, they were some low-grade pimps , who were securing the highest bidder for me. The realisation made me feel suffocated and literally breathless. Here I was in a strange city, away from everything and everyone I knew; back in the same predicament I have tried to escape from.

There was nothing else to do but to make a run for it. One morning when they have gone shopping , I ran out on the street, spotted a policeman and told him about my plight. It was obvious he didn’t believe me and tried to shoo me away. I followed him and continue to plead. In the end he gave up and took me to the nearest police station. I sat there for almost half a day, before anyone decided to talk to me.These things were common place in India,and not something the police rushed to attend to, if the Indian police ever rushed to do anything!

After a length interrogation the couple who have brought me to Bombay were summoned, they of course denied everything and said I have followed them!

I was sent to a remand centre for girls until further inquiries were made. This was known as “Children’s Home. A building with high walls and barbed wires with guards on the door. Huge hall where we all slept on the floor side by side , sat in a row to eat and in the morning lined up for prayer and a yard for exercise. Most of the women there were awaiting trials for crimes and there were a few underage girls who were caught prostituting and were there for the courts to decide their fate.

First they have to summon the parents and give them the choice of taking their child back. So the authorities set about tracing and asking my father to come and take the custody of his daughter.

He refused point blank.

It took a lot of summons and threats, so he came ; refused to see me, met the court officials and declared that he didn’t want anything to do with me and the courts can deal with me as they wished as “she is out of control”.

To begin with I was there under the belief that I will be gone soon as my parents will have me back , But my parents never came nor did they want to have anything to do with me, I was now at the mercy of the courts. I was summoned frequently to the offices of head of the home. A bald grotesque looking man, with wandering hands. When I tried to complain about him I was told by the inmates that he was renown for such things and no one could do anything about it. I still made enough fuss about it and kept telling the warden, as a result my visits to his office stopped.Phew!

I was there for one year, it was there that I caught chicken pox and was admitted to the hospital. And it was there that I fell in love with the nurses and their work. And decided that that is what I wanted to do.

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