By Amrita Saikia

I wrote this poem while I was working as a Research Officer in a national project in TISS. The project dealt with the issue of “human trafficking” in India. As a Research Officer, I was responsible for visiting rural areas in India and conducting interviews. I interviewed minor girls who were rescued from brothels in the city of Mumbai. They were the victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The horrifying tales of these victims disturbed me immensely. Their words kept haunting me so much that I decided to pen down my thoughts, which eventually took shape of the poem called “Sold”.

Patches of black, blue and red,
On the face, neck and chest,
Puffy eyes and cracked lips,
From which blood dripped.

Twenty thousand was her cost,
Childhood and innocence lost,
An ailing mother and siblings four,
A poor father could take care no more.

A distant relative made promises galore,
Of a shining city and a sea and shores,
A family, a home, toys and clothes,
In return of household chores.

With teary eyes, she bid goodbye,
Her mother embraced her and let out a sigh,
She left her wailing siblings behind,
With every step she took, she wanted to rescind.

A journey on foot, bus and train,
They crossed a river and mountainous terrain,
Weary eyes, hands and legs,
She arrived at the city in her rags.

A crowded street and narrow alley,
No family, no home, no toys to play,
A flight of dimly lit stairs,
Led her to a room lit with lights like stars.

In the beginning she had resisted,
But she was abused and assaulted,
Deprived of food and sleep,
All that she did was silently weep.

She had surrendered at last,
To a hound and his insatiable lust,
He had slowly unrobed her,
Of her innocence, childhood and laughter.

She had cringed in pain,
And had shuddered at the sight of bloodstain,
Slowly she had dragged herself,
And had looked at the mirror on the shelf.

Patches of blue, black and red,
On the face, neck and chest,
Puffy eyes and cracked lips,
From which blood dripped.

 Amrita Saikia poem - Emma Von Skov

Illustration by Emma Von Skov

About the Author

Amrita Saikia: M.Phil. Research Scholar in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

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