The first thing you notice about 14-year-old Rose Kisku is the angry gash above her brow. And then the thick black welts on her arms and wrists. Her back too is criss-crossed with purple scars. These are the marks of a koyta (a kitchen implement used to break coconuts) used against this young adivasi from Bihar, working as a domestic help with a well-to-do family in Mumbai’s Nerul suburb. Her crime? She didn’t cook dinner on time.
The wounds are healing but the memory is raw. "Memsaab just picked up the koyta and kept hitting me. I was bleeding all over but she wouldn’t stop," recalls Rose. A day before this, the memsaab locked her out on a rainy night because she failed to find the chocolates she was sent out to buy.