I was 14 at the time, and was on my way back to Saudi Arabia to visit my parents who still worked there. I was to board my flight at Mumbai's International airport. Being an odd time of the year, my maternal uncle was not too free as he was the GM of IDBI at the time, so he dropped me off at the airport and handed me over to the Airport authorities to complete my boarding formalities, and since I was a minor, I was allowed this facility, wherein they would do the processing. I did not really need it since I had travelled all alone at the age of 6 to Saudi for the first time to do my schooling there.
A pretty air-hostess was put in charge of me. The ironic thing was that she was about 5'1 in height, and I was already about 5'9 at the time(I grew really fast you see). She found it amusing too and took the opportunity to show me to her colleagues. I still remember her saying " Look at the minor I have been put in charge of, he is taller than me !" I should have been piqued at this apparent objectification that she subjected me to, but I have always had a soft spot for women so I let it go.
She asked me to sit in the VIP lounge while she did the paperwork. I was having a ball of a time in the VIP lounge, I was being treated like a celebrity. Just then I heard a huge commotion outside. The door burst open and I saw three women enter with a group of solemn looking senior airport officials. All was not well I inferred from the looks on their faces. Two of the women were old about 50 ish. the third woman was younger around thirty, and she was seated on a wheel chair and looked like she would die in a week's time.
Overhearing the conversation I got to know that they were british citizens of Pakistani origin. They had arrived from London via Air-India, and it was their contention that the frail younger woman had fallen sick after eating something served in the flight. The meaner looking older woman was furious and was creating a hell of a ruckus, accusing Air-india of gross mis-conduct. She kept saying that she would "sue" the airline in question. The officials on the other hand kept denying their fault and said that it was not possible for such a thing to happen.
All the while they were oblivious to the fact that I was in there too. After a long argument, they decided to escalate things and started to move out, leaving the sick woman on the wheelchair in the room with me. I was panicking in my head and did not know what to do. And then it happened, she looked at me and asked me if I would talk to her. Still shit-scared I agreed to avoid any complications. So she moved closer to me and asked me whether I would mind holding her hand, I was scared but I felt sorry for her and said OK, and so she started telling me her life's predicament.
She said that the meaner woman was her mother and the other was an aunt. They lived in London she said. and then she said this: (in reported speech for greater emphasis) " I don't like my mom, She makes me have sex with random men who come home and then they give her money. They Beat me and abuse me. I am suffering from AIDS! and I am going to die..." Holy shit I thought. I wanted to yank my hand free, I was 14! and scared shitless. Holding a woman's hand who claimed to have AIDS was not a very pleasant situation. It was then that she showed me her arms by pulling back her sleeves. "look" she said.
Yikes that was definitely not a pleasant sight. I saw all kinds of scarring and colors varying from white to red to purple!
I then asked her to tell the authorities of this, but she was too scared to go against her mom since she was in the habit of hitting her, and said that she was heavily sedated at the time. She spoke in such a meek voice and sounded scared but genuine. It was at this time that she started stroking my palm which was in her grip, I desperately wanted to yank my hand free. Luckily for me the officials came back and I so did my air-hostess and I left the room for my flight.