The room was hot and stuffy. I could hear the noises of vehicles as they whizzed past the dingy office. I could hear men talk in loud voices, as I waited for someone to attend to my need. Sitting there, my mind began to wander, and I thought of my days at home. Those wonderful memories seemed to be from a past I barely recognized now. I was soon forced to set my thoughts aside when I heard a thud on the table. Seeing a burly policeman sitting in front of me, fear griped me. I proceeded nonetheless to recount my recent horrors, in the hope that this would soon end.
Life had taken a turn for the worse when my father passed away, forcing me to drop out of school and work instead. My mother felt that working as a domestic help would be a good option since I was only thirteen and also because it ensured a regular income. Hence, my mother signed me up at a recruiting agency, in the hope that I would soon be employed. My mother’s prayers were answered in a week when I was informed of the household that I would be working for on a 24X7 basis. On the appointed day, I was taken to the house, to begin my work. However, in a few days, I was sent to another house, and that is when the real nightmare began.
I supposed I was to work in this new house instead of the previous one. How erroneous my belief tuned out to be, when instead of working for him, I was made to marry him. I was thirteen and he was thirty-two. Life as I knew had changed drastically within the span of one week. I knew no one, nor what was expected of me. I was all alone in a strange new place. With no one to turn to for help or advice, I silently did as I was told. If my days were bad, my nights were far worse. He usually came home angry and frustrated with his work, and would vent out his anger on me. I thought it was all part of my job, and bore it silently, believing that I would be paid at the end of the month as I had been told. However, it had been four months, and I had not received any money.
I wondered if it was because my mother was given the money instead. Sometimes I wondered if she knew where I was. With so much work to do during the day and the abuse I received during the night, I never had much time to ponder on these questions. The only time I had left to myself was when he fell asleep after hours of violence. The physical violence often left my body numb. I could not cry since crying would only make the bruises on my face burn, and I could not bear any more pain. With each passing night, my only prayer was to have the strength to face another day. I wondered if there would ever be a way out.
My body had soon reached its limit and I knew I could take no more of this pain. The only way to beat this solitude was by leaving the house. The risk was high since running away meant I would never receive the income I had been promised. However, I knew if I did stay on longer, I would only be put through more pain. That was when I decided I would leave the house while he was out on work during the day. What started as a thought soon culminated into action when one afternoon he left the house, forgetting to lock the door after him. Seizing this opportunity, I ran in the hope of being rescued.
My head felt lighter as I sighed. I was still terrified, but the look on the policeman’s face was reassuring. He had noted down almost everything I said, and promised to not only take me home, but also punish the man who had put me through so much pain. He asked where my house was. I then remembered what my father once said- “home is where someone is thinking of you.” My mind was soon filled with the memories of my family, and I felt at ease, believing I would soon be going home. I was then accompanied by two women to a room where I was asked to rest. Knowing that my mother was waiting for me, I did something I hadn’t been able to do in a long time- I smiled.