Children of the Street

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic


I asked her, whether she still believed in love, after all she has done, after all that had been done to her. She considered the question carefully and after several beats, said, I do it because I
love my family.

Submitted: March 08, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 08, 2018

A A A

A A A



She was a little girl, barely ten, when fate got the better of her. Its rough callous hands dragging her into the merciless cycle that claimed the lives of many others like her, even as her knobby knees and arms thin like sapling branches beating wildly, desperately. It was no use.

While her brothers were sent to school, she was sent to a dark corner of the ally filled with shrieking girls and foil packets.

She was taught that the number of men whom she received determined whether she would go to bed that night on an empty stomach. She was taught that giving men pleasure was her job. She was taught that men were the sole purpose of her existence. She had not known what a period was.

A perk from working on the street was a thing called makeup, or rather lipstick. Madam would supply her with the lipstick every Thursday. They came in all different shades of red imaginable. Once she received a purple one because apparently the client requested for ‘exotic’. But she liked the blood red one the most because it made her look older. Almost like a woman. All the Bollywood actresses she saw on movie posters wore red lipstick. Oh yes, Madam would make it a daily habit to remark snidely in front of the other girls, the flatness of her chest and how her hips were indistinguishable from her waist. You look like you just got run over by an iron! No wonder you barely have 2 everyday, Madam would snicker, baring her yellow teeth. The other whispered amongst themselves. At least they used their hands to cover their mouth whenever they giggled. Two? How pitiful! I have at least five everyday. Handsome too! Ooooo…

She tried to brush Madam’s remarks off. But one time after a client was done with her, as he stooped down to pick up his clothes strewn across the little hut, he commented he hoped he would not have to see the bones of her ribcage protruding in his face.

Like a skeleton, he said.

It stung.

He had been almost gentle, a kindness she seldom chanced upon. It was then when she started taking the pill, called Oradexon. It came in a bright blue foil packet, each pink little pill no bigger than the tip of her pinky.

It was cheap too, ten cents for ten rows of five. She was exuberant when the meat on her bones build, the hollowness of her cheeks filled, how her hips swayed when she walked, but most of all how her ribs sunk below the expanse of her ever rising chest. She called it the miracle pill. Sometimes, she would take two or even three a day, more than the prescribed dosage of one per day. Sometimes, her chest would burn and her head would swim, but she thought it was because her body was not used to the rapidness at which it was changing, from a scrawny girl to a full voluptuous woman.

Madam was astonished but pleased with her.

You will get many men, my dear child, she would say affectionately as she brushed her mane of chestnut brown hair with a stiff comb embroidered with specks of plastic jewels. Many men. Far more than the other skinny desert rats would have. The ‘skinny desert rats’ were not oblivious to the change too. The jealousy that made their eyes glint and narrow, the corners of their red lips puckered to form a hard line whenever she sashayed past them, her full chest bouncing bountifully, joyfully.

For several months, she was the most requested girl of the house. Madam would burst into her tiny room at the crack of dawn, sweaty and excited, claiming how a line longer than that for the village’s most famous chapatti stall, was already forming.

As her body got curvier and even more voluminous, she realized how labored her breathing became. How fatigue could come in an instant, sometimes at the most unsuspecting moment, sapping all her energy and desire to work for the rest of the day.

It got worse. She remembered she was shifting through the pile of lipsticks she owned (by now she had quite a collection) when she felt a terrible pain, one that explodes stars at the back of your eyes. The last thing she remembered was the cracked ceiling and the faint crackle of the foil packets that littered the floor.

When she awoke she saw Madam’s eyes filled with surprising concern. Looking around, she realized she was in a dimly lit hospital room. She had never been in one. She had a seizure, she was told. The doctors said her kidneys are failing, and her ankle had suffered a fracture from falling off the bed. She had only weeks left.

How? Why?

They asked her if she had been taking drugs. She said the only medication she did take was the miracle pill, Oradexon, not that it could have… Yes that was the problem, they said. It was used to fatten cows, or rather they were called cow steroids. Lethal in the long term. Suddenly, she felt she couldn’t breathe; whether if it was from Oradexon, the miracle pill of life or the knowledge of how, at her prime, she was slowing being eaten alive, rotting and dying form the inside out.

Dear God, save the child, she doesn’t know what she is doing, Madam would murmur silent prayers, her head bowed, exposing the strands of greying hair she would otherwise not have known.

I asked her, whether she still believed in love, after all she has done, after all that had been done to her. She considered the question carefully and after several beats, said, I do it because I love my family.

She died, 17 days later, 5 days from her 25th birthday.



© Copyright 2020 angst. All rights reserved.

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