Monday, May 16, 2011

Do they have a choice really?

The day started with a terrible chest pain. No silly, I wasn't dying already. As it turns out I was suffering from a terrible digestion problem because of which I had to rush to the loo about a zillion times before I could finally leave home for my internship.It was almost a two hour journey. And due to my present disposition making a change wasn't something which was on my mind back then. Instead I just hoped that I did not have to rush into the bathroom immediately after entering the NGO. And as luck would have it, I entered my first workplace brimming with confidence and a smile because I knew how lucky I have been to receive such an opportunity in the firstplace.

My NGO's name is Sanlaap which means -'Dialogue' in Bengali. It works for the welfare of women in trafficking and their children (mostly young girls). My internship coordinator is this young woman barely 5-6 years elder to me and because of this may be, I was quite at ease with her as there was no pretense or any inhibition from either side. Since I had wanted to work for their Child Protection Program, she helped me glimpse through a few booklets and sign a couple of sheets. And then the interrogation began (Well you don't exactly call it that but I was unable to hold myself from even asking her the silliest query that bothered my inexperienced mind.)She answered patiently and by the orientation/briefing session I was dumb founded by the sheer vulnerability of the issue.

Quite unlike the West, Prostitution in India or in the south Asian countries is not a profession. It is more often than not a form of bonded labor which is inflicted on young girls (as young as 5-6 years.)These girls are either sold off by relatives, friends, a close confidante and at times by their own parents for just a handful of money. These girls are then smuggled into the country (mostly from Bangadesh, Nepal and Bhutan ) or abducted from their native village and taken to either of the three cities i.e Bombay, Delhi or Kolkata.What must be remembered in this regard is that prostitution happens everywhere starting from hotels to massage parlours and so on. But the most popular brothels are in the three major cosmopolitans in this country and have been functioning quite smoothly for many decades together.

Needless to say that these poor souls succumb to the most excruciating of all pains (both physical and mental) where they are forced to have sexual intercourse with strangers ranging from 3-4 to as many as 30 to 40 per day. In most cases, they are not allowed more than one shower every week and one meal per day. So a bright mind is eventually reduced to nothing but a mere tool in the hand of some useless chap who could not even stand up to answer back his wife. When the girls refuse alcohol, drugs or something like anal sex, they are beaten and burnt with cigarette stubs till they finally give up on anything they could have ever believed in.If the girls become pregnant they are made to skip or run with a container filled with hot starch water on their head. When they trip and fall (which they obviously do), they are beaten up till they again start and continue with the process. So they is no medical intervention which aids in their abortion. These women often encounter with a miscarriage and if by chance the baby happens to survive and is a girl, the infant is immediately separated from her mother so that she can put under a rigorous training schedule as soon as possible.

And what might this training be like? Ok, sample this. When a piece of thermocol is immersed in water it swells up. Why am I you telling you this? Because a young girl of five years is made to insert that piece of thermocol into her vagina and sit for seven to eight hours so that her vagina grows in size. And this is because virgins are in great demand because supposedly having sex with them helps you from getting rid of AIDS.

I can't possibly describe what I felt while hearing such horrendous stories and what I feel now while writing them down. The entire purpose of womanhood feels defeated when certain people decide that the only they can prove their manliness is by stabbing someone to death just because she refused to indulge in oral sex.

My NGO rescues these girls in the harshest of situations. If any of their plans are leaked, the sex traders also change their path within moments in order to avoid a raid.Even if it is a distance of 1km, the traders change hands ten times so that it becomes almost impossible to trace them. And even when girls are rescued they have a tendency to run away because obviously they can't bring themselves to trust anyone ever again.

Now that is a whole of information which has been fed into you in one day, in less than two hours time. You'd probably be having nightmares trying to accept these facts. And when this happens, try and think about those people who have to live like this for their entire life. Try and think about that young girl of your age who is a mother of a five year old. You would be thankful for even the smallest chocolate that you father ever got you (when you wanted a big teddy bear) because you can't dream of a life otherwise. A life where you don't get one square meal a day, a life where you opinions matter no more.

Today, was just a start and hopefully I will keep updating my blog from time to time about this cause. An honest revelation: I never felt this helpless and I would only pray that in the long run I get to work more and more with such troubled souls because I believe that it is always good to have people listen to you especially when you feel that you probably don't deserve to live anymore. I guess when sorrow is shared, the pain does not seem overpowering enough to shake the your core of existence.

Once you choose hope, anything's possible. ~Christopher Reeve

Take care,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Everything I do, I do it for you : )

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr

Heartbreaks are hard, especially when you are in the eleventh standard trying to cope with academics and being unpopular in class. Back then falling in "love" (read: having a boyfriend) was like the most "in" thing on this earth. But sadly, for me it has been one of those pain staking experiences which has altered the course of my life, forever. Now when I think about it, I feel foolish but then again it got me one step closer to finally experience 'that thing called love'.

Today Love is so much more than a feeling,an emotion. Its about experiences. Its about togetherness and sharing. It is in fighting for a bowl of maggi at midnight.It is in staring at some random guy and without him making him realize that you are nuts about him. Love is about helping a blind person cross the street or even feeding a stray dog. Precisely Love for me is platonic and philosophical. It is something which makes me think of incidents, events which might not have bothered me otherwise.

When I see people 'dating' (I hate this word bdw) I wonder what kind of relationship I would possibly be considering the fact that I am possibly the laziest and sleepiest creature around. I know it is a silly thing to ponder about in this supposedly pragmatic world where nobody has time for anybody. So before I become a veteran journalist (who does not believe in advertorials :/) here it is a tiny weenie dedication to the person I will meet sometime in the future and fall madly in Love with.

“To whomever it may concern”

Dear Someone,

I hope I meet you when you are looking resplendent in a black and white tuxedo. (Okay! You don’t have to wear a tuxedo but please don’t wear anything orange or some combination like red and blue/ yellow and green.) I ramble a lot but I know when I will meet you (even for the first time) I will be silent and will barely look into your eyes. For one crazy moment I might look at you so please don’t anything remotely disgusting (like digging your nose for e.g.) because I might throw up on you even before you realize.

Even if I start speaking, I will talk crap so please bear with me. If I cry (emotions you see), don’t offer me a tissue (:/) instead try and be a little more supportive and kind because that will help you understand me better. If you are taking me out somewhere, we should go to someplace where we can talk to our hearts content and if it is a restaurant; the waiters need to be well behaved! (Just kidding, we can go to a dhaba for all I care till I get to spend my time with you.) We need not be spick and span because it will be our imperfection which would make us so special.

If you feel that there is something about me which you are unable to cope up with, don’t go and complain to your Momma! Come and approach me directly (I am not your boss for Christ’s sake.) As an adult I feel rather na├»ve, writing a thing like this but I know someday we will read this over chai and samosa (although they are not my favourite snacks) and have a hearty laugh (: D) about it.

Since we haven’t met, let me tell you something. I often find myself staring at the stars wondering whether you are in your terrace doing the same thing. When the wind blows across my face, I feel as if that same wind blows past you too. When my umbrella decides to misbehave during heavy rains, I wonder if even you are walking down the street, all drenched with a broken umbrella in one hand. Like I said, I tend to romanticize things a lot, but when it comes to you, I find it rather difficult to explain ‘logically’ what I experience.

Anyway, I don’t care if I meet you tomorrow or at the age of 80 because it is Love we are talking about here! A simple word with complex dimensions. So it hardly matters. Right?
I am too bad at making dramatic endings (: )). So let me keep it lucid and short. You don’t need to cook for me, gift me flowers (what a waste of money, you can get me a book though : P) etc to make me feel wanted. Just be by my side, trust me your presence is enough to compensate for the every tangible thing in this world. If you like someone else (It is okay, baba!) let me know because your happiness would be everything for me. OK cliche alert. I must end this now before you die of boredom eh? So here it is:

"I choose to love you in silence, for in silence I receive no rejection. I choose to love you in loneliness, for there no one owns you but me. I choose to hold you in my dreams, for in my dreams you have no end. That is what you are to me; in all honesty, it's hard to believe that I will never love somebody the same way I loved you!"

Yours truly,

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Okay! So I am finally home.Undoubtedly I am happy, elated, overjoyed and all the possible synonyms you could have for the same word but sadly I feel I don't belong here anymore.Obviously these are my roots and I am proud of my culture and everything but having said that there is this slight glitch which makes me miss Pune at times. And it does not really stop at just reminiscing about a place, I end up comparing both the regions which is definitely not right on my part.

I mean whenever anything about Bengal was discussed or screened in class I found myself jumping on my seat so much so that my friends concluded that I suffered from OCD. And now when I am finally back, I don't feel that excitement and that thrill. I do get decent food and time with my parents but something definitely feels amiss.Ok! Now I feel I am complaining too much.I mean people are starving to death and I am only bothered about which place I like better(:/)

Anyways, that at least got me back to blogging. I have been trying to complete a story for a long time but after the first paragraph I just can't take the story forward. I guess a couple suggestions will help.

'She sat on the floor of her one bed room apartment lighting that one last cigarette which had been provocatively peeking out from a Malboro pack. “So you also managed to lure me, just like the rest of them. “- She said. It was difficult to understand from her smile whether she was still talking about cigarettes or the innumerable guys she had “supposedly” fallen in love with time and time again. It shouldn’t have happened this way because for her love was supposed to be a divine experience rather than an amorous desire. Because whenever she thought of love she visualized herself sitting under a shack, having coffee with the man she loves. Her story needs to be told because not everything we dream of falls into place and also because the very feeling of affection is synonymous with pain.'

Hoping my next post would not take 'this' long....:)