Poem by Satis Shroff
‘You’re not going to get away this time.
And you’ll never ever bring a Nepalese child
To a Bombay brothel,’ I said to myself.
I’d killed a man who’d betrayed me
And sold me to an old, cunning Indian woman,
Who ran a brothel in Bombay’s Upper Grant Road.
I still see the face of Lalita-bai,
Her greedy eyes gleaming
At the sight of rich Indian and Arab customers.
I hear the eternal video-music of Bollywood.
The man I’d slain
Had promised to give me a job,
As a starlet in Bollywood.
I was young, na’ve and full of dreams.
He took me to a shabby, cage-like room
And told me to wait.
Three thugs did the rest.
They robbed my virginity,
Which I’d wanted to save
For the man I’d marry one day.
They thrashed me, put me on drugs.
I had no control over my limbs,
My torso, my mind.
It was Hell on earth.
I was starring in a bad Bollywood film,
A lamb that had been sacrificed,
Not to the Hindu Gods,
But to Indian customers and pimps
From all walks of life.
What followed were five years of captivity,
Rape and molestation.
I pleaded with tears in my eyes
To the customers to help me out of my misery.
They just shook their heads and beat me,
Ravished me and threw dirty rupees at my face.
I never felt so ashamed, demeaned,
Maltreated in my young life.
One day a local doctor with a lab-report
Told Lalita-bai that I had AIDS.
From that day on I became an outcast.
I was beaten and bruised,
For a disease I hadn’t asked for.
I felt broken and wretched.
I returned to Nepal, my homeland.
I lived like a recluse,
Didn’t talk to anyone.
I worked in the fields,
Cut grass and gathered firewood.
I lost my weight.
I was slipping.
Till the day the man who’d ruined
My life came in search of new flesh
For Bombay’s brothels.
I asked the man to spend the night
In my house.
He agreed readily.
I cooked for him,
Gave him a lot of raksi,
Till he sang and slept.
It was late at night.
I knew he’d go out to the toilet
After all that drinking.
I got up, took my naked khukri
Out of its sheath,
And followed him stealthily.
The air was fresh outside.
A mountain breeze made the leaves
Emit a soft whispering sound.
I crouched behind a bush and waited.
He murmured drunkenly ‘Resam piri-ri.’
As he made his way back,
I was behind him.
I took a big step forward with my right foot,
Swung the khukri blade
And hit him behind his neck.
I winced as I heard a crack,
Flesh and bone giving in.
A spurt of blood in the moonlight.
He fell with a thud in two parts.
His distorted head rolled to one side,
And his body to the other.
My heart was racing.
I couldn’t almost breathe.
I sat hunched like all women do,
Waited to catch my breath.
The minutes seemed like hours.
I got up, went to the dhara to wash my khukri.
I never felt so relieved in my life.
I buried him that night.
But I had nightmares for the rest of my life.