Friday, April 17, 2009

A lucky intervention

I was warned about the traffic jams with the fly over coming up and was advised to leave sufficiently early. I had come to the railway station ninety minutes ahead of the departure time and found a vacant bench on the platform under a fan. I was to present a paper on parenting at a conference the second day. I was in charge of destitute and orphan section of a well-known institution in the city. As a temporary measure I was also looking after the adoption center. With so much time to while away, I took out the draft of my speech and skimmed through for changes if need be. I felt I heard some one sob or the sound of a hiccup. I turned around and saw in the adjacent bench a middle-aged woman obese with a big sticker on her forehead and chewing paan. She wore gaudy clothes and had cheap glittering tinsel around her neck and hands. There was a young girl of thirteen by her side in a salwar suit made of good cloth. She was petite in structure, slim, beautiful, and had long hair. Her mannerisms, the way she wiped her face, the movement of her hands and the costly slippers she wore showed that she came from a decent family. It was evident she was crying and the sob came from her. One look at her showed she did not belong to the class of the fat woman. I could notice from the corner of my eyes this girl was furtively looking at me. There was a pleading look in her eyes. I decided to investigate. I am myself a big built woman with a stentorian voice and the bearing of one accustomed to get things done her way.
I went to the woman and asked where she was bound for. She looked at me and mumbled something that was not audible. When I persisted with the query, she turned her head the other side. I asked her loudly “Where are you going? Who is this girl? Is she your daughter?” She replied defiantly in a mix of Hindi and Urdu “Why should I tell you? How does it bother you?” and asked the girl to get up and follow her. I held the girl’s hand and asked her in Tamil ’Do you know her? Is she related to you? You don’t seem to belong to her class.” Meanwhile two rough looking men appeared from nowhere on the scene and the middle aged woman said something to them in a language that was not intelligible. The men with glowering eyes advanced towards me to release the girl from my grip. I raised my voice and shouted, “Stay away. If you touch the girl, I will call the police.” Already the other passengers and a few porters started collecting around us. The woman suddenly came near the girl and nudged her and said ”Are you mute. Why don’t you speak out? Tell that woman who you are.” The trembling girl started talking in Tamil when the woman gave her a slap. The sobbing girl in smattering Hindi said possibly as tutored to her in advance “She is my aunt and I am going to Mumbai with her.” I asked the girl “You are a Tamil girl. Why do you have to speak in Hindi to me? Does she not know Tamil?” Even as the girl faintly nodded her head in affirmative, the two men wrenched her away from my hands and started dragging her. I shouted at the top of my voice? “These men and woman are kidnapping that young girl. Save her immediately from their clutches.” Several young men chased them. The men left the girl and fled. The woman was caught and the girl rescued.
The interrogation of the woman and questioning of the girl brought out a sad and heart rending tale. The girl’s father an alcoholic was married to a second wife when the first one died. This girl was disliked by the stepmother from day one and made to stop school and work as a domestic at the home all day long. Underfed and overworked, she was mercilessly beaten. When the father broached about marrying this girl to a boy from his first wife side, she decided to drive away this girl. Having herself come from shady background, she had no difficulty in finding someone willing to buy the girl. She sold the girl for a paltry few thousands with the intention to tell the alcoholic that the girl had eloped with a neighborhood boy. The girl was taken under false promises of a better life in another town as a help to an aged lady with handsome remuneration. It was while she was being taken, this lucky intervention took place.
I had another thirty minutes to board the train. I did not know what to do with this girl. I did not want her left in police station. I was not willing to trust anyone. I thought for a moment the relative priorities of reading my paper at the conference or securing for the hapless girl a safe haven. It took a trice for me to decide to cancel the journey. I told the girl to accompany me and that she would be safe with me. I told a few decent looking men in the crowd about me and about my intention to have her taken in my destitute home. There was a sense of satisfaction and appreciation from one and all. When I turned to look at the girl, she smiled at me and clasped my fingers. All my maternal instincts swelled in my heart even as I wondered how many such girls would be fortunate to meet with such fortuitous circumstances. There is a lesson in this story that all persons should be alert and watchful in railway stations and bus stands of such happenings.


  1. There are several such appalling cases of children being thrown into prostitution. Its sad to see such innocent ones thrown into the murky elements of the society.Very few are lucky enough to be freed from the cage of horror like in the above case. A moving story.

  2. An excellent example has been set thru this story. Is it a true incident? It nevertheless teaches one to be alert and to be there for people who might need us in their times of distress.

  3. The lesson has been conveyed well. Thanks.

  4. Very few are lucky enough to get help at the right time.. the world is mean..

    Hats off to your narration..

  5. ohh the last time i went there, thge work was in progress creating a lot of trafic-confusion in the area ..

    ohhh ... this is bigger than merely a blog post .. !!
    just wondering if it came out of your ever imaginative mind or as you say ...then it leaves me speechless for you dont miss a single train journy without encountering something as miserable and unfortunate as this one ...

    (well , i m glad to be able to drop in here! )

  6. we are expecting something big to appear here now ..
    it s been a while!!

  7. That's a good message sent across. But many girls are still a victim to such helpless happenings sir..

    This story reminds me of your previous story about a boy. Still it is good :)