We talk of women empowerment, but how much do we respect the women in our country. They are only viewed as sex symbols. Yes, this is me Sheetal and I am the daughter of a bar dancer and a whore.
As the evening approached, I used to admire how beautiful my mom looked. Each night she dressed up in shimmering colorful sarees, sometimes red, sometimes yellow, and at times, my fav color purple.
Today evening as she got ready to leave home, I said, “mom, you are look dazzling in that red sequin blouse, deep cut from back and cladded in purple shimmering Georgette saree…”
… and I went on & on… no evening went on like this when I never praised her beauty, her hair tied in a bun and a white gajra (garland made up of white flowers).
I was merely in standard 2; yes I used to study in a government school nearby. Sometimes, when I used to look at her, I urged to become like her when I would grow up and I shall want to wear all her sarees and dress up exactly like her.
Mom scolded me so badly, and insisted to never follow her path.
Every evening I used to ask her, “Mom, where do you go each evening leaving me alone in my neighborhood with Kalavati aunty?”
I never got the same answer. Sometimes she said, “Sheetal, I am just going to meet one of my friends” and when I pushed her hard to take me along with her, I was told that kids aren’t allowed in the hospital.
Sometimes, she just nodded her head, saying she can’t take me along with her but promised to return early but never… at least never before 1:45 am.
One day I left quietly from Kalavati aunty’s home and decided to go after my mom. She wasn’t aware of this. I followed her till she reached the main road, where she waited for few minutes. I thought she might be waiting for an auto rickshaw or a bus but then a black car came, she sat in it and left. I ran after the car, shouted for her but she couldn’t hear me as the windows were up and the car disappeared from my sight in no time.
I was very angry with my mother. I too wanted to experience the ride of a car. I went back to the aunty’s home. No, she wasn’t looking for me; she thought I might be busy playing with my doll that my mom gifted me on my birthday last month.
I asked aunty, “Kalavati aunty, do you know where has mom gone?”
She chose to say mum.
I asked again but she started to scold me, “you talk too much, can’t you sit quiet for some time. Go, and play with your doll.”
She gave me some dal (lentils) and rice to eat and I was half angry and upset and half confused. I tried hard to stay awake until my mom returns but don’t know when did I fell asleep.
Another year had passed now. I had been witnessing my mom the same way and sometimes she even accompanied a man… a new man during different times. One of the men started to visit our home frequently and befriended my mom. He visited us quite often and also sometimes lured me with chocolates.
Then he used to call me. My mom trusted me on him and left for work as usual one night. Mom and the guy weren’t married but by now I had a step brother from this so-called new dad of mine. The man, Shiva, called me, made me sit on his lap and hugged me tightly. I was in my 4th standard now. He used to talk to me and I felt good in his company.
That was the first time when I was going to become a victim of sexual abuse but I didn’t knew this. He touched me in a way that no man should be doing it to a small girl like this but I didn’t realized until one day my mom discovered.
She yelled at me why I never discussed it with her. I told, he bought me chocolates and also scolded me not to share it with anyone as this is a secret between me and him (my step-father).
Kalavati aunty shared about an NGO named Kranti that works for women empowerment with my mom that keeps small and young girls as well as boys and they also take care of their studies and food.
“I wasn’t good at academics but I still wanted to study. My teachers told I can do well if I try hard. I always received motivation to study.”
I stayed in different NGOs and studied at various places. I reached tenth standard, and one day I was kicked out of the Kranti NGO as I got involved with a boy during my teenage. Kranti NGO takes care of such girls who have been sexually abused at some point in their life. There were girls of various ages, even younger than me. At NGO, we had strict rules, no exposure to the outside world, just aim for the studies and work hard. Somehow, I managed to get back to the NGO and began to study hard.
I missed my mom badly.
During the Ganesh Chaturthi, she observed the boys playing drum and admired if she could play too. The NGO made her believe in her dreams and she started to learn music.
Sheetal never wanted to become a bar dancer like her mother, neither did her mother wanted. Even when in NGO she was told to hide her identity but she never did that. She failed to understand why her mom’s dance was never considered good while an item song in movies and the actress received great respect and recognition.
After seeing my interest in music and drum playing, I received a letter for scholarship at a drum school in Washington D.C., USA. I began to soar high in sky. I stayed there for 10 months and excelled in music and returned back to my country India. Back here, I plan to establish a music academy at Kamathipura in Mumbai (India) and I am also an agent of social change in India.
After that there was no looking back.