Next day they went to the NGO. All dispersed and Archie walked towards Deepti’s room but she wasn’t there. Banu was still sleeping. Archie got a bit panicked. She went and asked the caretaker. She told Archie that she had seen Deepti going towards the garden. Archie went to the garden asking for directions from a guard. She walked slowly and looked around but she couldn’t find anyone. Her eyes were searching for the same figure and her gaze became fixed at one point.
“Ah! There she is,” Archie muttered to herself with a sigh of relief.
Deepti sat there in one corner, on a bench.
Archie went softly and sat beside her. Deepti was looking at the flowers and when she realized that someone was there she distracted herself from eyeing nature’s beauty. She turned towards Archie and said, “Oh! Aap….” Saying this she smiled.
That was Archie’s biggest achievement.
AN: How are you Deepti?
D: I am fine.
AN: What had happened to you yesterday?
D: I got reminded of the past. I couldn’t face it again.
AN: Oh! Okay. Are you in a mood to talk today?
D: Yes. I am feeling better. How come you all are here in this place? Where are you from?
Archie told her in short about their internship. She could understand a bit so she nodded her head and there was a positive attitude in her.
D: I used to work in the quarters with my mother. On Sunday’s I would let her rest and work the whole day. There was a house in which only 2 people lived; a mother and her son. He used to work in a company so only aunty was at home.
D: That’s the reason why my mother used to send me to their house to work. Aunty was very nice. My mother was also happy and on Sunday’s when bhaiyya was there I used to be extra cautious. I always had a feeling that he stared at me when I was not noticing. I felt very uncomfortable. On Sunday’s I could never work properly. Aunty used to get surprised at my carelessness and I kept getting a good dose every Sunday.
AN: Didn’t you tell your mother?
D: No. I didn’t want to tell her. We got lot of love from aunty and our monthly income was enhanced because of her. She paid us 600 rupees for the extra work we did apart from the monthly payment. I didn’t want to be a burden on my mother.
AN: Did you face this always?
D: Most of the time. One fine Sunday I went to their house. Bhaiyya opened the door. I went to the kitchen straight and searched where aunty could be.
I called out, “Aunty… aunty…..”
There was no reply.
Bhaiyya said, “Aunty nahi hai.” He laughed and it seemed scary to me.
My heart pounded. I wanted to run back home but I kept quiet and was praying within. I had washed the utensils and almost swept the room. Bhaiyya was there in his room and he went out after sometime. I felt relieved. I didn’t swab the floor properly. I just finished washing the clothes and was about to put them for drying when bhaiyya came home with one of his friends.
D: I didn’t bother. I went to the balcony and hung the clothes. I finished my work and went to the room to tell bhaiyya that I was leaving. As I turned to leave, strong hands ushered me into the room and next moment… I lay one the floor.
Deepti stopped……………. She began after a pause.
D: Bhaiyya and his friend were laughing seeing my petrified face. I was raped. I didn’t know what to do after that. I felt weak before 2 strong men. I couldn’t fight. My clothes were torn. I couldn’t move. I felt…..pain. I didn’t know what to do. At that moment I lost interest in everything. It seemed that the world had collapsed for me.
AN: Those rascals… Then did you go home?
D: Yes. I did. My kurti was torn. I put the dupatta around and ran. I forgot my slippers. I ran home barefoot in the hot weather. My legs were aching and my foot burnt. I felt I would faint any moment but I ran. I fell down somewhere near my house. I don’t know who brought me home. I remember that I was in a dispensary and I could see my mother sitting beside me and crying. I could only hear her wails. She had bent her head. I thought the doctors would have told her.
Deepti stood up and went towards a tree. Archie went behind her slowly.
D: I couldn’t speak. I woke up and started crying. My mother pushed me away and asked me about the whole incident. She told me to be quiet and not utter a word about the whole incident to anyone. I wasn’t able to bear that. I had my mom as the only hope and when she herself told me to be quiet, that day things changed for me. I didn’t feel like believing anyone. I felt that why was I ever born in such a family. I felt weak and I closed my eyes. The anger and frustration was still inside like a poison. I was discharged the next day. Everyone in my ‘basti’ spoke ill of me. The news had spread that I was raped but no body knew who it was.
AN: You should have complained to aunty. She would have helped you.
D: I didn’t have the courage anymore to go that side. I stayed at home in one corner. One week passed. Reports came and they showed that I was not pregnant but… I was no more a virgin. My mother cursed me everyday and because of me she couldn’t work in many houses. She suffered a lot because of me. I couldn’t bear the atrocities of my father. He was always drunk and least bothered about his children. I had a younger brother who was only 5 years old.
One day, I found a chance and I ran from home. I could read and write and I had saved some money so I could travel. I took a local train and I came to Bangalore station. I tried to find some work. I started working for an aunty in an idly shop. She paid me less but it was enough for me. I slept in the waiting hall. 15 to 20 days passed like this but life had to go on and this was not the end. I couldn’t stay in the station forever.
Archie could feel a lingering pain in her throat. She couldn’t speak and she kept looking at Deepti.
D: The aunty in the shop sent me to this NGO. She supplies idly and dosa for breakfast to the staff members.
These people took good care of me. I want to work and study more. I am still not able to forget all that has happened.
Deepti looked at Archie and asked, “In this modern age also is it a curse to be born as a girl?”