Sony started cleaning the wind sheet of my car when my car stopped at the Traffic signal. Despite my frequent interdictions, she continued cleaning it.
“Hey, Hey! I do not have any money to give you! Off now, Girl!” I warned her.
“I know how to handle men like you. That’s why I am here. It is my art to siphon off money from guys like you Sahib Jee!” She smiled obscenely with an objectionable sign. My mouth, eyes and ears flew wide open, since I hadn’t heard such objectionable talk from a girl aging below 15. I experienced the first incident of this type in my entire life. For me it was a crying shame.
Who is responsible for this? Who spoiled her childhood?
I asked her to hop in the car to take her to the destination. But she refused to do so.
“Look traffic signal is going to green and my car won’t stop and you won’t get your money as well.” I warned her .
“Okay, but you have to drop me at next round about at my station.”
“Okay.” I said and opened door to let her in. She hastily sat in front.
I began asking “starter” questions to break the silence. What was her name? Where had she hailed from? Where did her family live? How come she professed this contemptible job? She didn’t answer anything except to tell me her name.
“What do you want? You jusy drop me at my Station!” She said moodily. She talked like professional.
“Look Sony, you have no idea how my heart is bleeding to see you in this condition. I see my younger sister in you. How could I do this to my sister? Please tell me your life story.” I asked while changing the gears of car. “Okay but first take me to my location over there”. Pointing towards Bridge.
Sony is 15 . She resides under a bridge in Karachi where many children (girls and boys) gather round and loiter and have fun. The bridge also serves the purpose of the Beggary secretariat from where children under ages 10 and 12 receive directives from their Head Honcho. Without the consent of the head no children can think of beating a hasty retreat. Sony was here for 5 years and now she is supervising other children. Why don’t you run away from this hell? I asked Sony.
“Of No use Sahib!”
“The leader has strong relation with street thugs and policemen who easily spot and get us back to the begging. I tried many times to run off to go home, but each time I was nabbed by policemen”.
What did that bastard have to do with children?
Sony looked much perturbed upon my question and she was looking back and forth, perhaps looking for leader.
What you looking for? I asked
Sahib! Go away don’t waste time. If the Leader saw me talking to you he would beat me hollow.
“Rest assured, Sony, You are with me right now, and no one can harm you in my presence.” My consolation didn’t work and she moved along with her bale laden on the shoulder.
“Look Sony you are just my little sister and I have gift for you and your friends.”
“What you have? I don’t need any gift from you!”She tried to open the door of the car but failed .
“I know what cunning purpose you male have behind this gift”
My jaw dropped down and I could sense the magnitude of her broken soul. Her face illustrated the life she led like a fading Rose beaten by Storms. Her countenance did not reflect the age she grew up too early and this was not her fault.
“Look, Sony! If you didn’t tell the truth, How will you get away with this hell-like life. Don’t you want those bastards to be punished who spoiled your and other children’s life? They kept you away from your family and everything you dreamed of” I tried to convince her.
She paused at the corner while turning towards Main Street and cast glance at me with incisive eyes as if she had had mercy upon me. She walked towards me with slow pace
“What you want to know?” She asked like grownup women would.
“Who did this wrong to you? Tell me how did you come here? Who spoiled your childhood?” I poured questions rapidly.
“I hate my life. I would pray for other children not to lead life like me. I had dream of playing with my fellows too in village but who knew that the fawn was always chased by hunter!” She said, biting her lower lips with frowning eyes.
“It was long ago when I went to fair held in the nearby town with my parents. This was my first visit and I was so excited to see the event. Many friends of mine kept telling me about the roller coaster, merry- go round- and Toys for girls, Bangles, henna. The entire village was decorated with Buntings …” She sighed for a moment. “I was completely lost in the rejoice of it. I lost the way and wandered back and forth. My parents searched me a lot but in vain. All of sudden an old man with cat- like moustaches and an ugly face approached me. He promised to take me home and gave something to eat.”
“Then what ?” I asked.
“Next day I found my self in a congested room where many other children girls and boys were sleeping like animals.” Sony sighed for moment. “I cried a lot and missed mother a lot. Hearing my voice he came inside the room and slapped me on my face with his hammer like hands”.
“What does he make you and the other children do?” I asked
“He is a rascal. He spoiled my childhood. I am just like his daughter but he did not spare me. All children, you see here, have to satisfy them sexually.”
“All children are given different task like begging at traffic signal, collecting food from houses while others work as sex toys for the lust seekers that they are. Beggar girls suffer - The way of giving money is very disgusting. They drop Money in their laps. when girls try to take money they grasp hands with their thighs.
Did you ever try to escape? I asked.
“What if I escape? My life is ruined now. no one would accept me at home. Though I tried to escape many times the Police officials caught me various time at Bus station and returned me here.”she said.The life of begging children is in deplorable condition in Karachi. Countless children are leading miserable life like Sony. It is high time that the government arranged a mechanism to embrace those wandering children and have the concerned department send surveillance teams to spot locations where children are abused and put the culprits behind bars.
By Ashfak Siyal