She was born and raised in India’s second largest red-light district. Her stepfather sexually abused her until she was seven. Her mother threw her out of the house a few years later. What was she to do? Become a sex worker, right? Wrong.
Leaving all the bitterness behind Sheetal Jain is now pursuing her dream of becoming a drummer. She went to the Levine School of Music in the United States, and also teaches children at an NGO. In talks with KenFolios, Sheetal talks about her journey from being in Kamathipura to living her dreams.
Sheetal’s maternal grandmother was trafficked by her husband to Kamathipura when she was pregnant. She gave birth to Madhu (Sheetal’s mother) and never allowed her to study. Madhu got married to a man she loved when she was 13 . Sheetal was born to her 14-year-old mother as a premature child.
“My father lied to my mother to get married. After a few months, he left Mum to marry someone else,” Sheetal tells KenFolios.
Madhu took a job of a bar dancer, remarried shortly, and gave birth to Aditya. Little Sheetal loved her stepfather dearly as she did not know about her biological father.
Beginning of abuse
As a kid Sheetal was sent to a hostel in Goa to study. Her stepfather would bring her home during vacations. She remembers various incidents as a seven-year-old when she found herself naked after waking up.
“One day while sleeping, I felt my father’s hands on my private parts. I was pretending to be in deep sleep but it was paining very much. Maine socha ki papa hain, pyaar kar rahe honge (I thought that my dad is being affectionate),” she weeps. The man asked Sheetal to dress up afterwards. That was when she realized that something is not right and started maintaining distance.
Sheetal was forced to leave her studies after STD 4. Her mother left her job and turned into a drug addict. When Sheetal turned 12, her stepfather abandoned his family to marry someone else.
Homeless yet hopeful
Sheetal’s mother became mentally unstable after which she threw her daughter out of the house. She found support in her neighbor’s family who would force her to do all the household chores and beat her up. Tables turned soon enough when Sheetal found Kranti, an organization that works with children of sex workers in Mumbai.
As a child, she would see guys playing drums during Ganapati Visarjan and this fascinated her. She joined drum classes while in Kranti and chose drumming as a career.
Hope crawled in after a few months when she bagged a scholarship for a year-long course in drums in US. After returning to India, Sheetal worked as a drum circle facilitator in Taal Inc Company. She went to UK for various shows.
Sheetal wanted to do something for children from red light districts. She would go to various schools with her friends to conduct workshop for these kids.
Sheetal is now working in Bangalore with Make A Difference, a non-profit organization. She has sent her brother to an organization in Kolhapur for his education. Her mother has been admitted to rehab center of Kranti and she is getting better.
“I could never imagine this life. I go for jamming sessions. I am learning a lot in MAD and preparing myself to do work for Kranti. Right now, I am just going with the flow,” Sheetal concludes.
It is people like Sheetal who give us hope that no matter whatever happens you must never give up in life. She is a true hero. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors.