This story is a continuation of Asha’s Story-Part 1
Women and girls lounged in the doorway. Their faces were painted in ways Asha had never seen. Asha stopped and stared. Kala roughly pulled the little girl through the door. They walked down a series of long, poorly lit corridors. Asha could feel the wet garbage under her bare feet, oozing between her toes. There was heaviness in the air. This did not seem like a happy place.
Suddenly, a woman was standing in front of them. “Here she is,” Kala said tersely, “That’ll be 40,000 rupees” (about $100 U.S.). The woman took Asha to a little room. “This is where you’ll stay,” the woman declared without emotion as she pushed the child through the door. Asha shivered when she heard the dead bolt slam into place. Something seemed very wrong. Asha felt frightened – and alone. She prayed to the family gods. It didn’t seem to help. Asha went to sleep wondering what kind of place she had come to. When she woke up, she couldn’t tell whether it was day or night because her room had no windows.
After a long while, the woman returned. She sat down on the bed and opened a little bag. She started putting make-up on Asha’s face. Asha winced. A few minutes later the woman came back with a man. The woman told Asha what to do. Asha did not want to do such things. The woman slapped her. Asha cried. The woman slapped her again. “No! No! I will not do such things.” The woman cursed Asha in Nepali and then left.
A few minutes later, she returned with another man. His lip curled in a mocking snarl. She had never seen such a look. “So, you don’t want to work, eh?” He pulled off his belt and began to beat Asha. He beat her until the pain filled her body. Then he left. Asha curled up on her cot and whimpered softly.
Later that day the woman came back. “Ready to work, little doll?” Asha cried and pleaded with her. “Please don’t make me do those things.” The man with the belt came back. Three times that day he beat her. When the time came to eat, they brought nothing to Asha. Still the little girl resisted. The torture lasted for days. Without light, Asha lost track of time. Without food she grew weak.
One of the other girls told Asha it was useless to resist. She told Asha of another girl who had been put in a room with a cobra until she changed her mind about doing as she was told. It didn’t take long, the girl reported. “The gods have forgotten you. This is your fate,” the girl said sadly. Frightened, exhausted and hungry, Asha surrendered.
In those first days, Asha often cried herself to sleep, wishing she was back in her village, homesick for her mother. She hated life in the brothel, hated what she saw, hated what she did. She hated what happened to the other girls – especially the sick ones. But the tears grew less and less, and Asha became accustomed to her new life.
Seven years passed. Seven years without seeing her mother or brothers. Seven years in what she and the other girls called “that place.” Seven years watching girls become sick with the “Bombay Disease.” Seven years of watching them turned out on the streets to die. Asha dreamed of buying her freedom and going home to Nepal, but she knew there was little hope of that.
By her 16th birthday, Asha had forgotten what hope was; until she met Devaraj. Devaraj was different than the other men she had known. She met him at a small church near Falkland Road. There he taught messages of hope that lifted her spirits. He talked of freedom. She visited there as often as she could. She longed more than ever to be free from Falkland Road, but she still lacked the money to pay the “investment” the brothel owner had made in her.
One night after service, Devaraj told Asha she could leave the district. Asha could hardly believe what she was hearing. “How is this possible?” Asha asked. Devaraj explained that some “friends” had given a gift to purchase her freedom. In a few days, Asha left the brothel that had been her home since she was a young girl and moved into a “Home of Hope.” Now she is learning how to live. She is learning a new trade. And thanks to people who care, Asha’s life is no longer surrounded by pain and disappointment. It is full of hope and optimism for the future.
When Mike McGill read Asha’s story in 1999, he started the Asha Forum. What will your response be?
This story was found here.