Friday, November 27, 2009

Kunuri.....When Heart Cries!

Kunuri (16 years)is no different from of the rest of us. She swoons at Shahrukh Khan and loves colourful bangles. The other evening, as a pani-puri wallah walked by her window she happily called out to him to stop and savour a few of his delicacies with a taut lip so that she wouldn’t smudge her lipstick. But this is where the similarities between her and us end. She reached out to the pani-puri wallah through a little window and all you could see of her was a lean hand with a fresh welt below the elbow and a few cigarette burns. On being quizzed by the pani-puri wallah about the mark, she cringed a little and tried clumsily to cover it up with her dupatta. The old pani-puri wallah understood, and so do we. This is just a leaf out the book of a girl trafficked into a brothel. Chances of an escape are remote. She is young and a hence, a customer-magnet. The Gharwali keeps a constant eye on her. Moreover, there is an amount of 2 lacks riding on her – the amount she was bought for. She has to part with most of her earnings to at the end of each day to repay the investment, with interest. What’s left is not enough to buy her a square meal. The system is so fine-tuned that she cannot possibly repay all of it even in twenty years. Imagine her pain when she had realized that she had been lured, tricked and sold by the one she trusted the most. In spite of everything she had gone through, time and again she has made a bid for freedom. But there is no way of escaping, and even if she does make it, she does not know the way home. The few lucky ones who manage to get home are shunned and disowned, and bereft of choice find their way back to another such brothel. Systematic violence and maltreatment dims away all memories of home. The persistent psychosocial trauma distorts rational thought and the victims begin to suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. Small mercies meted out by the captor seem immensely gratifying. Life at a brothel is far murkier than what meets the eye. No matter what she has suffered in the past hour, she has to spring back and be a treat for the next drunk waiting at door. Straight-faced as if devoid of all emotion, she walks down the aisle to put up a make-up laden face to attract the next customer. Home is distant dream which trickles down as tears every night without a single hand to wipe it off. Some escape, some are rescued, but the pain is etched as a deep scar in their minds which no one can heal. In this age where we talk of job-satisfaction, work-life balance and work culture there are people among us who die every night only to die again – a section which is looked down upon and is sneered at by most of us, in our cocoon of blissful ignorance. Every passing day is a punishment to for them thanks to the sanctimonious society, which only makes their lives more miserable. Why do we look at them the way we do? Why are we ashamed when we see them standing on the road side? Why do we cringe to a side and give a raised eye-brow look the moment they brush past us? Why do we spend more time thinking about the colour scheme of our drawing room than thinking of what we could do for little Kunuri? Maybe we cannot put an end to it in a day. But each of us could make a difference with every passing day. Let’s take some time out and embrace them as one of us are, they are exactly like us who have hopes, dreams and aspirations, who feel pain and crave for a friendly smile, people whose only fault was that they had a bad shot at the draw of life. If we cannot make their lot better, let’s not make it worse.

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