I was travelling for Lahore from Islamabad as I rejoined office after the sudden demise of my father.
Every inch of thoughts was drenched in chaos.
I wasn’t even taking my meals properly sometimes once in 24 hours either.
I left office at 10 by reaching Faizabad bus terminal I realized that I haven’t eaten anything since last 24 hours so I decided to pick some eatables from I-8 Markaz and grabbed food from a nearby restaurant.
At about 11PM, I was in my bus but as I wasn’t feeling hunger, decided to eat in a while.
Thinking of my father, his support, his love, his last breath, I didn’t notice the departure of bus and came back in my senses only when a bus hostess asked: do you need headphone? I declined.
She was sitting beside me when I started eating and asked her to try food as the food was delicious; she refused at first but then started eating while eating she said she haven’t eaten anything from last two days. I just left food and ask her to finish it … she asked what happened?
“It’s not my eating time,” I replied.
As she finished her food and started distributing water and other stuff in passengers. I was left with a number of questions.
At Kalar Kahar, she brought some tea and snacks for me, I was surprised but asked her to sit with me.
When she joined me, I asked why she didn’t take food from last two days??
Her reply, her expressions were enough to make me uneasy.
“I am on a journey for last two days. I took the bus from Lahore to Faisalabad and then from Faisalabad to Lahore. As I reached Lahore, a bus was ready for Islamabad so I took that bus and now I am traveling with you for Lahore. The bus for Sargodha will be there for me onward,” she replied.
For a second or two I didn’t believe what I heard a minute before, and asked what???
Without any rest?? Where did you sleep then?? Her answers where more heart shaking than my questions.
“This isn’t a routine of this week.. I am doing it for last three years of my career as bus hostess ” she replied.
In my media career, I have gone through several stories but this was something shocking, something I haven’t heard before.
In recent months, due to my job in Islamabad I have to travel every week to my native city and started exploring these kind of stories which are in thousands.
I got so worried about her and many other like her but then she told me that she is from a poor family of Sargodha and is doing this job to support her family.
She added that she has a 13-year old sister who she is trying to marry off for her would be in-laws have threatened them.
“They say they will send back my elder sister (married in the same family), if we don’t marry the 13-year old in their family,” said the hostess.
I was taken aback by this revelation, we talk about child protection all the time on our TV shows but just few miles away from Lahore, I am hearing the news of a 13-year old getting married against her will.
This was not all, she had a spinal injury as a result of an accident on motorway but can’t get proper medical treatment due to financial restraints. Moreover, she keeps it a secret in Sargodha that she works as a bus hostess for her Mohallay wallas might throw her family out.
I then asked her about the environment of a bus like does she face harassment?? she replied in affirmative, adding that sometimes passengers try to molest her.
What is the policy of bus service regarding harassment ??
“They don’t take action against the passenger as they don’t want to lose them,” she replied.
I was in utter shock.. her tired face, her sheepish eyes left me shocked and ashamed.
I had no words to console her… no words.
After a few moments, however, I promised her that I will try my best to find her a good job so she didn’t have to bear all this.
While reaching Lahore I hugged her and paid my salam to her.
Till today, some questions aren’t allowing me to think straight.
If a girl is a bus hostess, it means she is available for every man?? Why is being a bus hostess so disgraceful for Mohally wallas?? where is child protection bureau?