She should have been playing with dolls….
Instead, the bright-eyed little girl was sold by her father and became a “doll” in a Mumbai brothel. Asha was only nine when her father sold her to a procurer. She came from a very poor family. Seven children had been born to Asha’s parents. They certainly could not afford a girl.
The little girl had no idea what was going on or how her life was about to change forever. She only knew that the lady named Kala had told her she was going on a trip to a very special place, that she would have new clothes, and that she would be working for a nice family who lived in a big house. The lady asked Asha if she was willing to work hard. Asha nodded. “Will you do anything that is asked of you?” Asha said she would try. Asha wanted her family to be proud of her.
The adventure began at the bus station in Katmandu. Asha had never ridden a bus before. Asha wondered how many other girls would be fortunate enough to go to a big city like Mumbai. Perhaps this was what her father meant when he talked about good karma. She couldn’t wait to say her pujas (daily prayers), as her father and mother had taught her to give thanks for such good fortune. Asha looked excitedly out the window as the Nepali hills rolled by. The bus trip lasted much longer than she expected – 14 hours just to get to the border town of Nepalgunj.
Once there, they walked across the border where they boarded another bus for the trip to Delhi. Asha asked Kala if they were almost there. Kala told her that Mumbai was very far away and they wouldn’t be there for several days. After what seemed like forever, Asha asked again. Kala glared at the little girl. Asha decided that she should not ask such questions.
Finally, after three days and hundreds of nameless Indian villages, the driver announced the good news – they were in Mumbai. Asha became excited. What will the family be like? What about their big house? When Asha and Kala climbed down from the bus there was no one to meet them. Asha was confused. She looked around. Kala grabbed her hand and nearly jerked her off her feet. “Come, child!”
They walked quickly through the busy station, past the beggars who swarmed the sidewalk outside, and to the taxi stand. Asha had never been in a car. Kala spoke crisply to the driver. “Falkland Road.” This must be a very special place, she thought for the driver instantly nodded his head in recognition. It was night when the taxi wound its way through Mumbai’s crowded streets, but unlike Nepal, it wasn’t dark. Everywhere she looked, Asha saw lights, lots of lights with strange markings. Asha did not know the meaning of the strange markings. She had never been to school.
After an hour’s drive, the taxi turned onto what seemed to be the busiest street of all. The taxi stopped. Kala pulled her arm again. “This is where we get out,” the woman said crossly. This was a strange place. “Where’s the pretty house?” Asha asked shyly. “Quiet!” Kala barked. “This is your new home.”