Revathi had a pretty hectic day. She packed up her laptop and other stuff and got out of the office. She hurriedly pulled out of the driveway.
At Madhuban Chowk, she had to stop at a crossing because of red light. It was a three minute red light and she looked sideways to kill time. She saw a young girl sitting on the pavement. She was pretty. Innocence dripped from her face. From the looks of it she wouldn’t be aged more than 14 years. She couldn’t take her eyes off the girl. She felt connected to her in some way. Revathi smiled. The girl reciprocated with a broken smile.
Just then the light turned green and Revathi moved on.
In the next couple of days, Revathi saw the girl many a times around the same time and at the same red light. A smile was all they shared. But deep within, there was a fondness that she had felt for this little angel.
Some souls are linked across time. Some connections are made with the heart.
Usually on Fridays Revathi leaves office early to join her friends at a pub or a restaurant or else it’s a night out at a friend’s place. But today, as the office hours got over, Mr. Khurana had asked her to finish an important strategic report and send it to him before midnight so that he could go through it before he travels to Paris on Saturday noon. She was fuming with anger. She had to answer multiple calls and refuse every single friend. Friday nights are what she always looked forward to. It helped her get out of this monotony between work and her studio apartment in Gurgaon.
She finally clicked ‘Send’ and rushed out of the office. She was completely exhausted. It was a long day. She wanted to get back home as fast as she could, gobble up something and fall flat on her bed.
She reached the same red light. It was 10 past 11. She was late than her usual timing.
There she was. The pretty girl. Standing all alone on the pavement as if waiting for someone. At first sight it looked like she was dressed up for a party. Full make-up, flashy figure-hugging clothes and matching high heel stilettos. Dressed to kill like they say. But her face painted a different picture. One of doubt, anxiety, fear, hopelessness and helplessness. Revathi saw the girl looking at the opposite side of the road. As Revathi looked to the opposite side, she saw a pot-bellied middle-aged man who was signaling to her while talking on his mobile phone.
A few seconds and a chauffeur-driven BMW stops by on the other road. The girl gets into it.
A chill ran down Revathi’s spine.
Murmuring to herself Revathi got into the lift and then into her apartment. She barely managed to freshen up and sip a little water. She went and lay down on the bed. Turning and tossing for quite a while before she finally got out of the bed. She walked up to the window and sat on the window-sill with moist eyes. She thought to herself, “If it was not for Aamna Di, my future would have been the same.“
Suddenly it seemed like she was enlightened. She immediately changed, picked up her car keys and wallet and got out of the apartment complex.
Revathi was 9 when she was sold off to a pimp in Karimangalam in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu by her own parents. She was told that the ‘Mama’ will take her to big city and admit her to a big school so that she can study better. The train journey in the unreserved compartment to Mumbai Central was something that remains engraved within her till date. Stuffed together like cattle, most faces reflecting the uncertainty of their lives and unaware of what future holds for them.
If Aamna Di, the God-sent angel, wouldn’t have picked her up from the station that day before she was being deported to Kamathipura, Mumbai’s oldest and Asia’s second largest red-light district, Revathi would have ended up as probably the youngest prostitute ever.
Aamna Di admitted her to Prateeksha, a shelter home for children. After making the necessary arrangements as she was leaving Prateeksha, Aamna Di looked back. Revathi walked up to her with anxious eyes. Aamna Di picked her up, hugged her and said, “I have ensured your admission into one of the good schools out here. Give it your best. And for anything you need, I am here always.“
Revathi still remembers the pride and joy in Aamna Di’s eyes when she informed her of her brilliant performance in All-India CBSE Class XIIth Examination. Aamna Di ensured that Revathi got admitted to the best B-school possible. Revathi, now the Operations Head at a prestigious multinational company, owes her life to Aamna Di.
Revathi waited patiently at the Madhuban Chowk red light.
The same BMW stopped a few steps ahead and the poor girl got out and walked slowly and aimlessly.
The next morning, Revathi woke her up with a peck on her forehead, “Prerna. Yes. That’s what I have named you. It means Inspiration. Get up and get ready to inspire the world. It was not your mistake. Forget your past and move ahead with me. I am here for everything that you need.”
As Revathi got ready and was about to leave the apartment, she turned back and waved to Prerna with the most beautiful smile on her face. A smile of contentment. Prerna ran up to her, hugged her as tears rolled down her cheeks. Revathi wiped off her tears and said, “No more tears. Never again. Only smiles. Together we’ll overcome this. I am with you.“
Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
Prerna is a short story I wove inspired by Dr. Sunita Krishnan, an Indian social activist and chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, a non-governmental organization that rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates sex-trafficked victims into society. This video of her talk at TED platform was one that will stay with me for years to come and might help me do my bit for mankind.
While most of us accept defeat and withdraw ourselves from life at the smallest hint of troubles, this lady chose to fight back and help victims of similar abuse. I completely agree with her that these evils exist because there is a demand which is being addressed. If we banish those few from among ourselves, we can get rid of these atrocities to a large extent.
Together We Can.
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