I used to live with my father and stepmother, and never knew who my real mother was. Since my father was poor, I did not get to go to school. So I followed a relative to Kathmandu from Nuwakot, and started washing dishes at a restaurant in the city. After about a year, my aunt came to see me, and told me she would educate me back in the village. Happy, I followed her.
Since I have motion sickness, my aunt gave me some medicines on the bus and I fell asleep. In the middle of a jungle, in a remote location with only a couple of small tea shops, I was woken up to eat. The next time I woke up, I found out I was in Delhi. I was 14 years old. My aunt had sold me for Rs10,000.
Epicentre of trafficking, Om Astha Rai
Teach to fight trafficking, Stéphane Huët
Early the next morning, my aunt left me with a woman names Hema, and said she would come back in a month. When I tried to follow her, a Nepali woman called Laxmi Tamang beat me up. I was kept under lock and key, but one day when I got a severe headache they took me to a hospital where they put me on medication for two days and jabbed me with injections.
That made me feel very hungry all the time, and I started eating a lot. For a month, they gave me whatever I wanted to eat. Later, I learnt that those medicines and injections were meant to spur my growth and make me appear more curvaceous and feminine.
Hema then sent me to Brothel Number 511 at Kashmiri Building in New Delhi with Laxmi Tamang. There, a manager called Simran told me to go with a man. When I balked, Laxmi again beat me up. Eventually, they sent three customers to be with me on the very first day.
After that I had to take up to seven men every night. Later, it sometimes went up to 25 clients a day. Sometimes I did not get to sleep all night. And if someone lingered too long, I was the one yelled at.
After about two years, everyone from Kashmiri Building was transferred to Brothel 64 so that the girls would appear to be ‘new’ to a different set of customers. Thus, they took us from one brothel to another for seven years.
When I was in Brothel 64, I fell seriously ill. I had stomach ache and fever for days. But they gave me no medical attention, and did not take me to hospital. Every month when I menstruated, I bled a lot and it was very painful. But I did not get to rest. Often, I wished I was dead, or that someone would come and kill me.
Once, a truck driver from Gorkha called Arjun came to me. Then he started coming every month. When I was sick, he would secretly bring me medicines. Since I was an old employee by then, I was allowed to use a mobile. I used to talk to him secretly. I begged him to take me away from there.
Arjun asked me to elope with him, but it was not so easy with CCTV cameras everywhere. Sometimes us old employees were allowed to go out. One day, when I was sick, I called Arjun and he took me away. He cooked for me and got me medical treatment as well.
One day, a friend named Puja came to see me and said she was going home to Surkhet. Last year, I joined her and came to Surkhet to celebrate Tij. Arjun had told me that after I returned from Surkhet, he would marry me and we would go to Nepal. On the way back from Surkhet, he came to receive me in Nepalganj.
When the Maiti Nepal people at Nepalgunj border asked me about myself, I could not lie. The police even brought Arjun over for questioning. They kept me at Maiti Nepal, but they let him go when they learnt the truth. I did not know where he went.
When I was in India, I never thought I would come back home alive. But seven years later, I celebrated Dasain at home. I have begun taking informal classes called School for Life. But my mind does not grasp what I am reading. I keep getting stomach aches, my blood pressure is high. Images of the brothel and the terrifying experiences there flash in my mind, making me cry.
I think of Arjun a lot. Maybe he would not have married me, but had he not rescued me I would still be in Brothel 64 in Delhi.
With help from Maiti Nepal I have now filed a case against the uncle and aunt who sold me. The police have arrested them. But now I am scared they will be set free. I hope they do not come out of jail to torment me again.
As told to Laxmi Basnet