Tonight I write. As the wind howls near my ears and I sit beside the blanket of trees, I can feel every ounce of blood passing through my body. Long gone is the fateful night of my first ‘liberation’, and here I am trying to compare myself – a few extra kilos in the body and a few more added words to my vocabulary, but the rest of me has stayed the same. As I sit back and reminisce about the last three years, I can’t help but be surprised. From the days when I longed to be free to the days when freedom is what I carry in my purse, I still haven’t changed.
In that claustrophobic cage of sweaty bodies, I made friends. One of them particularly was very close to my heart. The name I fail to recall now, but I remember her as the dark-eyed girl. One of the prettiest girls I’ve ever known, she was a year or two younger to me. Amazingly mysterious eyes, as if they were made of fire and ice. The fire blazing out with its desperate trial to destroy everything which comes its way, while the ice trying to freeze the fire to keep its zeal eternal. She had a sparkle in those eyes which made me forget about my journey. Initially reluctant to talk, she eventually opened up in front of me. We had the same stories to tell just like the others in that dim cage. We were crammed and eventually lost track of who’s sitting on whom or whose body parts touched whom. We just wanted to breathe.
As days passed, we went from bad to worse. The sweaty slimy bodies and the dehydrated parched throats asked for mercy. The girls’ wails hit against the walls. I was one of the eldest and hence it seemed to me like my responsibility to be the one to console the others. However, no matter how stormy and dark the nights are, they are overpowered by the bright sunny day eventually. The sun came to brighten our faces too. We were out of our cage – moved to a larger cage.
We were thrown into a new city. A bigger one where people swarmed running in their own directions. I had never seen so many people. Amidst all the pain, I was excited. Excited because maybe I had a hope within me that things would eventually change and I’d wake up from my sleep realizing all this was just a dream.
We were taken care of by a woman much older, much experienced in her work. The first few nights were uneasy for me to settle into as the smoke and the loud music hampered my sleep, but eventually my little friend and I got acquainted to it.
This new city, whose name is not necessarily required, gave me my first liberation.
I vividly remember that fine evening when I was taken in by my elder ‘sisters’ so they could dress me up. Roughly smudged rouge and a cheap lipstick made me feel beautiful. Clad in a cheap glitzy sari with a backless blouse, I felt like a woman for the first time. I always looked at my mother and wondered when the day will come when I finally become a woman like her. The day finally came. I was taken to the room where Ammo’s special friends came. I remember how sheepishly I tried to glance around the room. I was given a seat near Ammo. My fine ammo praised my looks and how ‘fresh’ I was.
A man roughly in his fifties came to Ammo to ask for me, hesitated initially because of my price, for I was a ‘virtuous flower’ but accepted the offer eventually. For how can a man ever resist the temptations of a woman? A woman is a temptress whose mystery a man can never escape.
As my sisters had taught me earlier, I religiously took him into the adjacent room trying not to look into his eyes. I bolted the decrepit latch and dimmed off the lights. I stood near the bed with a pair of shivering hands as my man slowly undressed me. My fancy sari was soon thrown on the floor as if to stop the floor from witnessing what was to happen next. My backless blouse was unknotted and slipped out. There I stood with my bare body wondering what was to happen next. He pulled me near him and asked me to sit on his lap. I meticulously did so. I felt a strange thing under my thighs, it was him. He fondled my supple breasts and sucked them like a weaning baby. The next thing I knew was an excruciating pain. I didn’t know how to react, so I simply kept my calm and vented out my pain on his tanned body as my nails dug into him. I’m still sure he had a frustrating life which he vented out on me as he rammed his pride inside me with no remorse. My capacity to comprehend halted. There I lay, like an object. An object with no feelings whatsoever. He was soon done with me. It tired him, so he slept off quickly while I still lay there, thinking how I had become a ‘woman’ now. This was my first liberation.
Liberation from the shackles of life. I was no longer a virgin, no longer chaste, nothing to be shy of, for I had nothing left to be afraid of. Now I didn’t have anything left to be afraid of losing. And hence I was born. Yet again. A liberated woman.
By Rachna Baruah