The bus came to a screeching halt sending us head first into the seats ahead of us. We were told to line up and I was warned to shut up. What bothered me most was that we hadn’t bothered getting to know each other despite having spent most of the day together I hadn’t asked anyone their name. This meant that no one could get out the message that we were being sold.
We got out the bus quietly and although we never said it to each other, we knew that hell was coming. The hot sun burnt against my bare neck and I longed for my scarf, without it I felt naked and ashamed but I was helpless. I suddenly realised that my little Mahi, this little girl I have come to love so much was about to be sold. I prayed in a whisper, ‘Oh Lord you are sufficient for me, protect us, protect Mahi!’ Once again a sense of calm washed over me.
We were lined up and six men came towards us, each one was sizing us up and asking us questions.
Are you married?
Are you a virgin?
Can you dance?
Can you cook?
Can you clean?
At the time I found the questions with random and ridiculous but as it got later I realized they were getting ready to sell us to the highest bidder and this was the information that would assist them. We were a commodity to them, like a car or a handbag, and their aim was to trade us for the maximum profit. Mahi put her little hand in mine. At her age she didn’t understand evil so she remained optimistic about school and I found myself praying that she would be sold to a couple who had always wanted a child instead of a brothel.
It was my turn and one of the men asked me the questions, he had kind eyes but he was selling slaves so the observation was irrelevant.
He looked at Mahi and asked her the questions. She answered not knowing what a virgin even was. When he asked her about cooking, she told him her mum said she makes the perfect mud cakes. We could not help smiling and for a moment we forgot where we were. After the man with the kind eyes stepped back, a few more men questioned us. The process was long and confusing and we were not given any more information about what would happen.
When the time came and Mahi was chosen first and the man with the kind eyes left. I cried, screamed and begged to be taken with her. Mani had become my little baby and the journey had made us inseperable. I shouted to her that I loved her and would never forget her and that she should never stop praying for things to get better. She cried and said be happy for me sister, I am going to school. She told me she loved me and was taken towards the cars along the street.
I felt as if I had lost my child, panic set in. This was my Mahi. My little girl with the shiny eyes with the power to comfort any broken heart and they were taking her. I told myself that I would tell Mahi’s story in my book , my Mahi who had given me a reason to stay alive. I promised I would search for her as soon as I could. Mahi was one of many kids million of children who were trafficked annually. The Sold Dream of the forgotten Rohingya children.
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by mumtaz saley