24 November, 2020

Escape On Memory Train

It's a tale of two lives, of abduction, sale, rescue and return. Of 16 years Rehana took to remember.

Escape On Memory Train

IT'S a modern-day fairy tale. Of little Rehana, the wolf and the saviour, in this case a butcher with a heart of gold. A tale in which Rehana came back from the dead and was reunited  with her family after 16 long years, unable even to speak her native Bengali.

The story has its genesis in Barhra, about 200 km northwest of Calcutta. A fairly crowded Muslim-dominated area, it has no local industry, and economic activity is limited. The youth try and escape the poverty by moving to nearby Ranchi, Calcutta, or further away to other states as daily labourers, office peons or household help. For the rest, life revolves around the village ponds, marketplace and paddy fields.

There seemed nothing amiss that morning 16 years ago when 11-year-old Rehana (then known as Raihan) set out for her grandmother's house a few kms away. Four days had passed since her father's death; the house was teeming with relatives and she'd had enough of it. On the way she was accosted by Tikai, a young man in his early 20s who had struck up a...



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