Child Abuse - A Stitch in time saves Nine!

She saw the signal turn red. "Didi, ek bag le lo! Please meri boney kara do!"

Child Abuse - A Stitch in time saves Nine!

She saw the signal turn red.

"Didi, ek bag le lo! Please meri boney kara do!"

Her days started like this and continued to be as moribund as ever. The lecherous guy 'Kaka', as he was known in his circles used to come to usurp almost all her day's worth of earnings. If that atrocity wasn't enough he used to outrage her modesty from time to time. She was too small to even fathom these inappropriate touches and quietly accepted all these as a part of life.

It was the last day of the year. She looked at the bright lights reflecting from the mall entrance.

Let me shove some money aside. I wish to buy a small earring, she thought.

The little girl managed to save Rs 200 that night. New year's Eve, saw more philanthropy than ever. The lecher won't notice. She walked through Phoenix Mall and down the aisle towards the Lifestyle store. That's when my eyes locked on to her's.

Such a sweet girl, I mused. The dirt and grime added to her prettiness. She clamoured for some attention. She wanted to buy earrings at the mall.

 I was on a girl's night out. In the midst of our partying, I had come out for a breather. That's when I saw her innocent face.

The security was apprehensive to let her in. The small girl in rags was not the ideal picture of a wannabe shopper. But, he was a good old soul. He asked her to go clean up, before entering the swanky shop. She had already sneaked past the security at the mall entrance. This one however, was difficult to pull off.

I followed her into the washroom.

"Help karoon kya?" I asked her.

She looked at me with those beautiful large hazel eyes

"Yes didi please" she said.

I helped her to wash away the grime and also purchased a new dress for her. I have a daughter of her age, so I could make out her size. She cleaned well.

We went inside the shop and I helped her to the earrings section. She tried on all earrings, small, big, glittery, sparkly, etc. Oh! Her eyes shone with excitement. At last she zeroed on to the one that made her tiny heart flutter. I offered to pay, but she wanted it on her own accord. As she wrapped her little finger into the handle of the bag treasuring her purchase, her eyes exuded pride.

I accompanied her till the main gate to see her off. She swung like a butterfly, flapped her wings and dissappeared in a wink. It seemed as if the darkness of the night just swallowed her.

"Where were you?" my friends shook me out of my reverie.

"Who was that girl with you?"

"She, she, she's gone, leave it ", I muttered.

They shrugged off their shoulders.They had no time for petty things in their party mood and I too was in no mind to explain. As I made my way back to the bling and glitter of the pompous New Year Party, my mind played back the conversation that I had with her at the store.

I had asked her after her purchase to keep her earrings and dress safe, lest someone steals it.

"You have to look forward to some nice occasion where you can wear this" I had told her.

She laughed. Or was it a smirk?

"Didi, we don't look forward to ocassions or good days. We live for the moment. We revel in the tiny joys that life begets and that makes us happy. Thank you for helping me create one such moment Didi" she sounded grateful.

The loud music brought me back to my repertoire. I went off to my tribe of girls, enjoying and swaying to the tunes of the DJ. The fallacy of my life seemed to contradict the reality of what the girl faced.

What a pretence, my mind thought. We are such hypocrites. We fail to live for the moment and look forward to happier gregarious times molded in a futuristic panorama. There was this other world, where people like the girl simply lived for the present, cherishing the good moments that each day has to offer.

The paradox was finally unravelling itself and I couldn't have been more happier that night at my new found enlightenment. Yet my heart told me that she was in trouble, she wasn't safe. I returned back to the mall over the next few days to find out more about her whereabouts. It so turned out that she, along with ten other girls were living in a shanty, a small tenement and was subject to child abuse of both physical and mental nature. I alerted the local police and the NGO's and saved these girls in the nick of time.

"I am forever grateful to you, Didi" she said.

"Never mind the past, you are getting a chance to look forward to an untainted future, so work towards it," I told her.

As she left with her new foster parents, I turned back a happy person. Although there are thousands of destitutes like her, I had taken a step in the right direction that day. I had found my true calling and purpose in life. It was time to give back to the society.

Author's Corner - The POSCO Act 2012 deals with the prevention of child abuse in every form and aims to safeguard the child against sexual abuses and malafide intentions. Let's all be aware of what is happening around us and be alert enough to report such unwarranted events on time. Failure to report such sexual abuse can also lead to fines and penalty. Let's work towards a child centric nation.

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