Age of Kali – How Much?


She had come to Chennai following a misunderstanding with her husband.

Maragadam was found walking around with her three month old baby boy in Bharati Nagar near Guindy. I used to travel through this railway station on my way to Chengelpet and the villages where I work. Like all railway stations there are beggars. Ranging from the heart wrenching spectacle of twisted limbs and gross disability to the smiling waifs who cheekily demand your change to even the dreaded hijra who give men a taste of sexual harassment or threaten to flash their mangled genitals at a tight laced and sexually repressed public if they aren’t paid.

You can buy anything here. Trinkets abound. Some of the hijra do a roaring trade in sex work.

And sometimes you can even buy a human being.

Maragadam was trying to sell her child. She even received offers of interest before a flower seller apprehended her and handed her over to the police.

For now you feel outrage at this mother who would sell her child, but what you forget is why she did it. We are so enthralled by the sordidness of action we forget that people do things for a reason..

Maragadam could not work. She was trying to sell her child to a rich family so that he would have a better life. The modern slave trade is still alive and well in India and the bonded labour system is unofficial but thriving. Many a man has sold himself into debt slavery due to their lifestyle, addictions or economic pressure. And such is the wages that they very rarely get out of it.

Do not feel anger for her, feel pity. There was at least a happier ending than most here.

She wanted just Rs. 7000 for him. $150.

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