Ayesha recalled the first time she met her.
Past midnight, there was a frantic knock on the door. Ayesha, at 42 lived alone in an exclusive neighbourhood of rowhouses in a safe locality. Nevertheless, the knock at this hour was unexpected. She pulled back the curtains a bit and peeked outside. It was a dark, stormy night and the rain was pouring down in torrents. Cautiously opening the door, she was surprised at the sight of a small, dripping wet, bedraggled girl of around 10 years old at her doorstep.
“Bibiji, can you please help me?” she said.
Ayesha was wary but seeing a little girl alone at that hour, quickly ushered her inside. Grabbing a towel from the chair where she had hurriedly discarded it in the morning, she wiped the girl dry.
“What is your name? And what are you doing here at my door at this hour?” Ayesha asked.
“Bibiji, I am Anita from Bhagpat, UP. I am in trouble and need help” saying so Anita started crying.
“Anita, please don’t cry! Tell me everything from the beginning” Ayesha consoled her.
“Bibiji, amma and baba died six months ago in a road accident while returning from the fields. With no brothers or sisters to take care, Raghu Maama brought me here. I was happy that he wanted me to stay with him in Mumbai. But, I was wrong! He is an evil man. He along with his friend Bhola wants to sell me to Gulabo Madam in the backstreets of Mumbai”.
Ayesha was shocked! Child trafficking was something she had always read about, but this was a first-hand experience.
“So, how did you get here?” Ayesha asked.
“Bibiji, I ran away. Raghu Maama and Bhola were sitting in the bar and made me sit at a table in the corner while they discussed the money. I slipped out while they were busy and took advantage of the heavy rain. Not knowing this city, I wandered around. There was no security about here in the rain and seeing your lights on, I rang the doorbell. Please don’t send me back!”
Ayesha was in a fix. But an educated working woman herself, she decided to help this little girl as she could never ignore a child’s call. Driving her to the nearest police station, Ayesha registered a complaint against Anita’s Maama. Anita’s Maama was arrested the next evening and she was placed in a secure children’s home. Enrolling her into an English medium school, Ayesha footed all her expenses. Anita being a bright child, excelled in academics. And also became a part of the Under-12 football team as she was good in sports.
Today watching Anita play another match at the State levels, Ayesha thought of the shelf lined up with trophies of Anita’s achievements. Anita had transformed from a scared to a confident, happy child. Ayesha felt a deep satisfaction that she had helped shape a beautiful life all thanks to one stormy night.
Bibiji – Madame
Maama – Maternal Uncle
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