Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shanthi's freedom

Shanthi was just 14 but yearned for her freedom.A freedom from the stressful life she was passing through.A freedom to pursue her studies in the government school that was denied to her by her own mom,Mangala.She was in the top five in her class and teachers praised her for her diligence and intelligence.But mom was adamant that she should chip in her share of income by working in a few houses as domestic.Her dad ,an alcoholic and a no-gooder, came home only to sleep with her mom and snatch whatever money she had after beating her blue.When she stood up one day and refused to part with her money, he abandoned her and left never to come back.She had no company.Even the little cat that was living in her hut died one day.There were not many girls to speak to for her and the other women in the locality saw nothing wrong in her discontinuing her studies for helping her mom.

She was growing into a beautiful girl.Instead of a blessing this turned to be a bane.The unwelcome attention of younger men when she stirred out and the seemingly friendliness of the older men trying to pat or touch confined her within her suffocating abode..She wished to skip with the rope in the open outside her hut, play games with girls of her age or walk on the road freely to the nearby temple without the covetous eyes groping on her.Life was drudgery with each day being no different from the other and she suffered silently the shackles to her freedom.

What seemed a welcome break came when an aunt, from Mumbai a distant cousin of her mom visited them.She painted rosy pictures of job opportunities in the homes of rich that was safe and lucrative compared to the pittance earned here slogging all day long.She even mesmerized Shanthi with the prospect of continuing her studies which many employers permit.Mangala fell for the persuasive talk of her cousin and decided to move to her brothers place in the village while Shanthi worked at Mumbai.Aunt advanced some money to Mangala to settle some debts.

Shanthi was in high spirits and found her aunt who was well dressed very pleasant and sweet in talk.She assured the dazed girl that her life would change dramatically and she would love the new life there.She said initially she may feel the pangs of separation after being wrenched from the familiar comfort of her being at her home with her mom but gradually she would love her new life.

It was on one 10th of August morning that she landed at Mumbai.When she entered her aunt’s home she found many young women and girls.They smiled at her as if they knew her for long.Some even came running to her ,clasping her hands and telling her what a beautiful girl she was.When she turned to her aunt questioningly, she smiled and said”This is like a working women’s place and they stayed there.Don’t worry, you have a separate room adjacent to mine.Have a wash and rest.You must be tired” and shooed away the girls telling”She is new to this place.Let her get adjusted”

Within hours Shanthi knew she had come to a wrong place.There was a total metamorphosis in her aunt.She was no longer the pleasant and sweet talking person she knew.She issued orders to the various girls and a few men there.They were all subdued in her presence and seemed under fear.Two days later around dusk she was taken to the large hall where the girls changed into skimpy dresses with heavy painting of faces were all sitting..Strangers started entering one by one only to disappear with the girls to some cubicles.Shanthi was shocked at the revelation, ran inside her room and cried at her misfortune.

She heard some footsteps and found her’aunt’ standing by her side.The face was grim and angry.There was no trace of the sweetness she had known.She spoke softly but firmly.
“Look here and be sensible.I am no aunt of yours.I have paid huge money to your mother and brought you here.If you listen to me and carry out my orders, things would be smooth.Otherwise you would suffer and the end result would be the same.Do remember one thing.There has not been a single instance where the girls have escaped.I give you one day more to realize how you are placed.If you are sensible ,you can save lot of money and in a few years you can go to have your own life.If you create any problem, a thug will be upon you to make you learn the lesson the hard way..Go and have your dinner.”

Shanthi knew that she was trapped in a house of violence and threats with its dark cubicles and strict security.She knew all the inmates lived a life of shame with their brutalized bodies as testimony.She resolved that night that she would not under any circumstance submit to this ignominy.

It was August 14th.Shanthi dressed herself and put on lipstick and rouges as other girls did.They were all standing in the balcony of the third floor watching the illuminated buildings and the mad rush of people with kids in tow in the road below on sight seeing.There was jubilation all round.More clients were expected.”Aunt’ was happy at the smooth change in Shanthi’s attitude and wished to ensure she had a young man on her debut.It was only 7pm. The rush started generally from 8pm.The girls were giggling.

There was noise inside when some client had come with a large box of sweets.All the girls rushed inside.That was the moment Shanthi waited for.In a trice she broke her shackles and leapt to her death from the third floor for her eternal freedom she wanted most
A group of children was seen walking on the road with flags in hand singing”
Vande mātaram sujalam suphalāṃ malayajaśītalām śasya śyāmalāṃ mātaram vande mātaram
(Mother, I bow to thee! Rich with thy hurrying streams, bright with orchard gleams, Cool with thy winds of delight, Dark fields waving Mother of might, Mother free.)


  1. Somehow I am looking forward to the second part of this story, it would be quite interesting :)

  2. A sad story to read on a happy occasion, but then, probably that is the very basics of independence- to be able to do what one wants without being put in shackles...

  3. very sad story..why not show her a way to study, to fulfil her dream, give her courage.

  4. Your story brings to light the problem of millions in an independent country. Many are still unable to come out of the bondage.

  5. a apt one when our country comemorates her freedom from shackles... but the sad truth still remains unresolved and hardly exposed like you have showcased in this story....
    great work sir

  6. Sad, indeed
    We ought to count our blessings

  7. this is a very sad story!

    but if i were her, i would have escaped and run for my freedom and find someone who will have a good heart and who can help me go to school, like a temple, or a social worker who could help me.

    i will never ever go back to my mother anymore since she sold her own blood to evil people!

    but there is reality in this, though it has been portrayed in movies over and over again, still not much have been learned from such sad dilemma!

  8. An interesting story yet a sad one.