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I was kidnapped at age 12 & was a prostitute till age 17.
I was kidnapped from a park near my home after my 12th birthday, the last birthday party I ever had.
I woke up once inside what felt like a truck. My eyes, hands, & feet tied, my mouth gagged. I remember bumping against the cold hard walls of a moving vehicle.
Next time I regained consciousness I was in a dingy room. Some women cleaned & feed me. They covered my face with a pillow everytime I screamed for help. I later realized it was because they didn’t want me to get beaten up by the master for being a nuisance.
I was young, so I was kept in one of the ‘delux’ rooms.
My virginity was sold to a Sheikh in a big bungalow. He raped me for days, or may be weeks. I was eventually raped by all his companions when he was done with me.
I just lay there in my ‘delux’ room for an eternity. Men came & did what they wanted to. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because of the anguish, sometime because of the physical pain. Sometime I woke up to a man already inside me.
Sometimes a doctor came in to fix my hymen. I remember that because it meant I was again being sent as a ‘virgin’ to a Sheikh’s bungalow.
The humanity in me only survived because of the women who came everyday to feed me & help me bathe. They were sad when they looked at me. They sometimes had tears. That reassured me that whatever was happening was wrong. That I’m not an animal. That my pain is real & at least they can see it.
One day I woke up in a different room. I cried for hours.. or may be days or weeks.. I had become accustomed to the comfort of my room. I was no longer around the only women whose hands’ silent brushes against my face made me feel like a living being.
In this new room & with a new master, I was trained to dress up, put on makeup, & dance. I was trained to provide a number of services that my master made me practice with him, on him. Here, the Sheikhs stopped coming in. They were replaced by men in formal shirts & pants.
I was like a robot. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t even have the will to stop or rebel. I was just taking orders.
One day, a woman in a khakee saree pulled me into consciousness. She was shaking me vigorously & asking me my name. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I didn’t remember what was I called. I started crying & for the first time since my kidnapping, a woman in a cotton suit came towards me & hugged me. She told me that they were there to save me.
I was put in a van with other women & taken to a police station. I realized I was in Mumbai. Later I was told I had been kidnapped for 5 years & had spent the first few years in Hyderabad.
I was placed in a rescue home. I had to talk to a psychiatrist, attend classes, & eventually appear for exams. During this time, I had to learn how to sleep away from my ‘delux’ room. That hellhole had become my life. I felt uncomfortable when I hadn’t been penetrated by a stranger for days. I learned to live my new, uncomfortable life of dignity & normalcy. I got to know I had been subjected to multiple unsafe abortions, so I’m no longer fit to bear a child. My wrist was once broken & twisted by a client. Since it hadn’t been tended to for years, it will never completely heal.
With the help of doctors, I recalled my childhood address. When the people at my NGO tried to contact my parents, they learnt my mother had died of multiple organ failure because she had stopped eating or drinking after my disappearance. My father committed suicide soon after.
My NGO found a sponsor for me in Delhi. I moved here for a computer & foreign language course & have been living here ever since.
I now work at a computer center as a teacher. I live in a rented flat with 2 girls.
I have a boyfriend who loves & respects me. He knows about my past but gets uncomfortable if I ever say out the details. I still sometimes can’t sleep. I wake up thinking I’m back there. I call him in the middle of the night & he always calms me down. He makes me feel safe. He’s a proper Punjabi so he’s always making me laugh, dance, sings romantic songs, takes me to long drives, & cooks tasty meat for me. He even forces me to go to the gym with him because my years in captivity have left my body very weak. He belongs to a normal middle class family, so he cannot tell his family & friends about my past. I understand, but I hate that I have to lie to them.
Recently on Promise day, he proposed to me. I didn’t say yes. I don’t deserve him. He’s too good looking, uncorrupted, educated, & decent for me. I’m too broken, polluted, & unworthy of being someone’s wife, let alone his. He says there is no pressure & he will wait for me to be ready, that we can adopt children, & that my past doesn’t matter to him. But I’m waiting for him to realize he can find a girl much better than me. I don’t want my baggage to spoil his life & dreams.
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