by Sanjoy Dutt
Sixteen-year-old Salma observed young men staring at her in awe. She inspected her reflection in the mirror with dignity. She was born in a poor family of eastern India, consisting of her mom and two affectionate brothers. Her father's demise forced her to leave school and take up a job.
One day on her walk back from work, Salma was irritated when she got another wrong number caller, "Stop calling, I am not your Lena."
"I admire your voice and had to call you back, you must be just as beautiful as your voice. I am Abid, will you be my friend?" was the reply.
For a pretty woman, the word 'beautiful' is hard to discard and he sounded sweet. Salma could not ignore Abid.
Initially, their discussions were short and as days went by, they became lengthy. Abid showered Salma with praising words and finally Salma agreed to meet him.
"I have come from Delhi for you, darling. Will you marry me?" Abid spoke, "I have to return to work soon so if you are serious you should come with me to Delhi. We can get married and tell our families and stun them."The colors of the dreams are stronger than the logic of reality.
Abid's manners and his words moved Salma. She agreed to Abid's plan and left for Delhi without telling anyone. Her brothers called family and Salma's friends when she didn’t return home. After no news from anyone, they went to the Police.
In Delhi, Salma woke up in the cheap hotel room they had rented. Abid went out to arrange for their wedding and said he would send his friends to come and get her. An hour later she answered the door to find two men. One said, "We are Abid's friends Alam and Gyas. He has sent us to take you to the marriage hall." In the car, they gave her a juice to quench her thirst. After a few sips, she felt dizzy and confused.Dream chasers end in the swamp of disaster.
Salma woke up with a heavy head in a village house. She looked for Abid and his friends, but they were not there. A sturdy man nearing sixty said, "I have bought you to be the wife of my youngest son, you are getting married now."
Her screams fell on deaf ears as she was forcibly married to the sick son and kept locked
in a small room. During the night, she was raped by her groom, his elder brother, and the father in turn. She had no choice but bear the cruel pain every night.
After three months, she was allowed out to do chores and fetch water from the community tap, where she met other women of the village. She learned they had all been forcibly brought to the village. After years of torture, they learned to accept their fate. Salma did not have any means to contact her home, her mobile was taken away and she had no access to a phone.
Salma's brothers repeatedly visited the Police for news about her. Each time they left disappointed. They contacted their aunt Rabya in Delhi, who said, "Sorry to hear Salma is missing, I promise to help however I can."
Salma made friends with Farida, a girl from the east, during her visits to the community tap.
“Please, can you help me? I want to call home.” Salma begged.
“My man will beat me to death if he comes to know.” Farida was scared.
Salma kept repeating her request every time they met. Her returned requests did not fall on deaf ears. One day Farida amassed the courage to steal her man’s phone. Salma called her home and told them where she was.
Salma's brothers went to bring her home. When they arrived some angry villagers drove them out of the village before they could meet Salma. The local police were of no help. They told Rabya about their difficulty, who urged them to stay away from the angry villagers. With no help from any place, Salma’s brothers were disappointed.When one door shuts it is determined somewhere another has cracked.
By luck, Salma's brothers met a young journalist at a tea stall. Learning, they had come to rescue their sister from a human trafficking racket he got curious. Hearing about their obstacles and no cooperation from the police, the journalist in need of a good story, took them to a group fighting against human trafficking. With the group's help and a court order, the police were forced to raid the village and Salma was freed. From Salma's old phone records, Police were able to trace Abid, Gyas, and Alam.Nemesis is within the society.
The cops told them, "Salma's traffickers are behind bars with their leader. Guess who is the gang, leader? It's your trusted aunt Rabya!" ***