Excerpt from Capturing Jasmina…
He sold me. I still cannot decide if my father was fully aware of his choice when he traded me for money. Did he really believe the man would give me free education, a future job, a life better than the poverty we had always known? Or could he sense the man’s lies, see the anticipation in how his hands shook as they held out the wad of bills?
My mother did; I am certain of that. My memories show me her narrowed eyes, the worry that creased her forehead, the way she braved breaking into their conversation and stating boldly that I should stay. That day is imprinted into my mind and cannot be erased any more than ink can be removed once it has soaked into paper—however unwanted the words may be.
My dreams are clearer than I allow my thoughts to be. In my dreams I see my father glance up at the taller, well-dressed man. I see questions in Father’s eyes, questions that must be answered because his hand reaches out for the money, the “deposit” of my supposed future earnings from a rich foreign sponsor. My father’s hands do not shake as the other man’s do. In the faded pictures of my nightmares, he then turns to me and says, “I never wanted you.”
When I wake up screaming or crying, I clamp my hand over my mouth or cover my face with my sheet, not even admitting to myself that a dream could affect me so. I swallow hard, use the sheet to wipe my sweat-drenched face, and force myself to open my eyes. But all I see is darkness. Darkness whether my eyes are open or closed.
I lie down again and remember watching from the cooking area behind the flimsy bamboo door, dropping a spoon into the metal pot I held so he would hear the clanging noise and know I was there. He would know I heard every word as he bartered my life away.
Not once did he look at me. He looked at my mother when he refused her plea that I remain at home. He looked at the man again when he promised that Samir and I would provide him a better future.
And that is where my memories blur into confusion. The rejection of my father selling me, though painful, is not that surprising considering our poverty and my lack of worth being a female. What I cannot understand is why he also sold Samir, his son. Everyone knows it is a blessing from the gods to have a son. A daughter will marry and leave the family, providing no benefit; a son, however, is forever responsible to care for his parents and thus insures lifelong security.
Why would my father give that up for the temporary benefit of a few hundred rupees? Were we in more desperate straits than I thought? We were often hungry, but not to the point of starvation. We lived in a one-room bamboo shack, but my father’s fishing business, even when it did not provide income, still at least provided a few fish to eat.
It has proven impossible to forget Samir’s face the moment father told him to go with the man. On it was fear, anger, betrayal. Since he was a toddler, Samir gleefully utilized his position of superiority over me. It did not matter that I was older. He was the son. Though at times I was certain I hated him, seeing him go from arrogant and even cruel to lost and afraid hurt something deep inside me.
I suppose his hurt ran deep through me because it matched my own. Though he was favored, pampered and nearly worshipped, we both were betrayed.
If I ever find my parents, and I will, that is the one question I will ask. Why? Why was a small bundle of money worth more than family? Why were we so little valued as to be considered disposable?
Much time has passed since that day. I could go back to our little hut near the sea, to find our parents, but until now I have held back. I pretend I want to know, but the truth is I am a coward. I know as long as I only have questions, I am safe. Safe from answers that will break me, from truth that will destroy what little of my heart is left.
Asha says the truth will set you free. I have not yet told her that the truth can be the most enslaving thing of all.
What Readers Are Saying about Capturing Jasmina:
Definitely my favorite book of all time. Abby, 11 years old
I really liked it! Lots of emotion, fear, anger, betrayal, laughter. I’ve NEVER read a book so quickly in my life! Mary
With each turn of the page, I became more enthralled. Sarah
Fabulous! Great start to the series! Amy
I loved the book. You make the characters come alive and real. Wanda
I loved the first person, diary style of this book. For young women to really get into a book with such gravity it needs to have relatability and that is precisely what this book gives to its readers. Young women will identify with Jasmina because, though they are not Indian, or in slavery, they are looking for acceptance, love and a place in this world. They may not be running from traffickers but they are running from other issues and they will find in this book that the only true place to run is to the Lord and to strong, Christian role models. Additionally, this book brings practical but subtle information to girls about how to avoid being targeted as a victim even in the US where trafficking is sadly more prevalent than we believe it to be.
I am a teacher at a private Christian school in Atlanta and I believe that this would be appropriate for ladies as young as 10 to read. This book expounds on the terrifying prospect of red-light districts without going into the painfully honest details that would be reserved for more mature audiences. As with all literature, I would hope that the parents of young girls could use this book as a way to open up honest conversation with their children about the dangers of human trafficking. It would be a good idea for moms to read this book with their daughters and explain any questions along the way. Kayla
Psh forget the fact that I’m over 14…I will for sure be reading that book! I think it is so important that this age girls are made aware, because more than likely some of them may have a friend being trafficked and have no clue. Kelsey
I love it! Definitely, our girls need to be aware of this issue. Kim
Yeah!! I have been telling my kids I teach in Sunday School about your book and they are wanting to read it now! Mary