Gudiya began with her story. Jay insisted her to sit comfortably on a chair, but she was continuously moving and shifting. Maybe her past was haunting her again. She couldn’t sit comfortably.
‘Are you alright?’ asked Jay.
‘Hmmm…’ she replied hesitatingly.
‘Listen, don’t worry, just speak your heart out, there’s no need to be afraid of anyone, or anything.’ Jay pressed her hand gently, and comforted her.
‘I’m trying to, but you see, the pimp, the lady who controls all of us, she is very cruel and inhumane. She keeps an eye on all the girls, I tried to escape many times, but she even tore off our passports. We cannot leave the country at any cost. She doesn’t allows any of us to move alone, there are always people, who accompany us and who always follow us. That’s the reason I don’t speak to strangers, I don’t seek help. The message I wrote on that toilet paper? It was also from a pen that I found in the washroom, because the pens that they give us, are all instilled with some kind of technology, and a video cam, that records everything we write. If we ask for help, we are not provided any food for days…’ she burst out crying.
Jay could do nothing, but pat her back a little to console her. She had become weak and submissive, she had no power or strength to fight for herself anymore. Jay could not even imagine the situations she might have been through.
‘Listen, first of all tell me, how did you get here? How it all started?’
The mere thought of her past only, shuddered Gudiya, and she quivered in her chair.
‘Relax, here, have some water.’ Jay passed a glass of water, and she drank it all in one go. He could sense the terror that must have fallen upon the poor soul.
‘It’s a story of 10 years ago, 10 or 11, I don’t remember now, but something that is fresh in my mind even today. I was born in Bangladesh, and my parents died in an accident, I hardly have any memories with them, it was my aunt, whom I called ‘mausi’, who became my guardian and care-taker. She brought me to Delhi with her in few years, guaranteed me a job, money, so that my younger siblings could have a better life. I agreed and went with her, but never did I knew that I would be subjected to such a horrible business. That was the last day, I saw my mausi. She sold me to a pimp in Delhi, who kept me in a dark, stingy room. It was small and suffocated; I felt like a caged bird, the food was passed from a tiny opening at the bottom of the door. The opening was barely the size of my palm…’ Gudiya showed him her hand.
Her hands were so beautiful, and Jay was reminded of Mahi, the only woman of his life. Ignoring the thoughts that occupied his mind, he signalled Gudiya to speak ahead.
‘I was somehow surviving in the dirty and stingy room, at least I was getting food. Then the pimp served me to the customers like a commodity. I was forced to dress up, do make-up, and look presentable. They said I am beautiful…am I?’
Gudiya’s sudden question again diverted Jay. He could say nothing, but just nodded. Gudiya faintly smiled and looked down, maybe she was blushing? Such a beautiful woman, subjected to such a hell, Jay thought. And his determination of getting her out somehow, became stronger.
‘The customers were horrible, most of them were married men, who were unsatisfied from their wives. They came to us, seeking pleasure, and in return, gave us the most horrible memories of our lives. People say sex is love, but for me, it was always money, nothing more. I was given an assurance that the money I’m earning is being sent to my home, to my siblings, but I knew it wasn’t the truth.’
‘You never tried to run away?’ Jay knew it was a stupid question, but then he had nothing else to ask at this moment.
‘You think? I tried a million, rather, billion times, but then I was always caught. Their guards made sure, that there was only ‘entry’, and no ‘exit’.’
‘You shouldn’t be, it’s not your fault after all.’ Gudiya smiled.
Jay felt so small and pathetic inside. He thought his life is full of problems, but no, there are people who are sucked deep down into the pool of problems, and they have no way out, still they manage to smile and live life with a hope. And he was the one who always frowned and roared, over nothing.
‘What happened next?’
‘Nothing, the same life continued for few more years, and then I was shifted to Mumbai. People were richer in Mumbai, everyone said, and I could make more money, money for myself, my siblings. I was happy that I got rid of that wimpy pimp of Delhi, and I had one dream…’
‘Dream of being a bai. A home-servant? They call her bai, in Mumbai, right?’
‘Yes they do!’ Jay smiled.
‘Being a bai, is a good business, Saheb?’
‘Yes, it is…’ sensing the conditions, Gudiya was trapped in now, being a home-servant was definitely a better job.
‘I wanted to become a bai, and I had also learnt few household chores, I wanted to join ay household, and earn a lot of money, my money, money that I could send to my siblings, so that they could study, and live a better life.’
A tear escaped silently out of Jay’s eye. He wiped it, escaping the sight of the lady, for whom he earned respect, a lady who had been so strong, provided the circumstances she was subjected to. He earned millions per year, yet he was unsatisfied, and there are people whose dream was to become, just a bai. He couldn’t help, but curse himself for never thanking the almighty for giving him a good life. He cursed himself, for always frowning and asking for more, instead of enjoying the little pleasures of life. Gudiya was making him stronger and determined to get Mahi in his life.
‘Are you okay, Saheb?’
‘Oh yes! Absolutely, so where were you? Oh, Mumbai…’
‘Mumbai was worse than a nightmare, Saheb…’ Gudiya couldn’t stop the flood of tears that rushed out of her eyes. She held her head in her hands, and cried…