A sweeping, emotional
journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human
slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives
converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.
Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple
prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple
prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is
transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend
in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the
family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara
introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and
stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced
before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between
sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.
years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an
emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long
buried secrets in her own family.
Moving from a remote village in
India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back
again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a
heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story
of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true
test of time.
The Color of Our Sky
About The Author
Author: Amita Trasi
Publisher: Bloomhill Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Suspense
Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in Human Resource
Management and has worked with various International corporations for seven
years. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and two cats. The
Color of Our Sky is her first novel.
After I turned the last page of the Color of Our Sky, I knew this book
was not over for me. It will be with me for a very long time, the
painted images and the characters became very real, and not easy to
We meet head on the caste system that is prevalent in India
to this day, and once born your assignment does not change. Thinking of
my relationship with my sister’s and how easy my life has been in
contrast to what this story portrays and the utter disappointment with
I had a chance a few years ago to ask my husbands Doctor,
who was from India, how he felt about the caste system. He was very pro
it, and I reflected that for him an upper class why wouldn’t he, I’ll
bet his outlook would be very different if he was a Dalit’s,
We get a look at an upper class family, their children
able to go to school, and enjoy their life. Then we get a look at the
children born to prostitutes with their future assigned at birth, the
worse being born a girl. We put faces to these people as we delve into
this story, and everything becomes so real. We deal with the guilt the
thought of being responsible for putting someone in a brothel, and the
ways that the guilt is dealt with is sad. This part of the story sure
had a lot of twists and surprises that I never saw coming.
You will quickly be absorbed in Tara’s and Mutka’s story, and you won’t want this book to end.
received this book from the Author through Pump Up Your Book Virtual
Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
The memory of that moment hit me like a surging
ocean wave—drawing me into it—the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting
like an echo from a bottomless pit. I had tried to break away from it for so
long I had forgotten that places can have memories too. I stood in the dimly
lit corridor outside my childhood home and tried to unlock the door. The keys
rattled in my hand and fell to the floor. This was proving to be more difficult
than I had thought. One deep breath and you will find the courage Papa
used to tell me when I was a child. Now, in my mid-twenties, here I was,
standing outside this locked door, feeling like a child once again.
I picked up the keys and tried again. The doors
creaked as I managed to push them open. The apartment was dark. Outside, the
sky thundered and rain rammed the rooftops. A stray slant of sunlight fell on
furniture that had gathered dust over the years, and I stood in that unlit room
looking at the old cobwebs crowding the corners of what had once been my home.
I switched on the lights and wiped the dust off my writing desk with a smooth
stroke of my hand. It is just an apartment, I told myself. But there
were so many things from my childhood here—my writing desk where Papa had sat
down next to me, teaching me how to write, and the couch where we had watched
television together as a family.
In my bedroom, my bed stood neatly covered, just
the way I had left it. I could hear the
sound of our laughter, smell my childhood—the food Aai used to cook and
lovingly feed me—that wafting floral smell of saffron in the pulao,
turmeric perfumed dal, the sweet rasgullas. There wasn’t any such
smell of course, not anymore. All that was left was just a musty odor from
closed doors, from buried secrets.
A cloud of dust erupted as I parted the curtains.
Outside, the rain was falling softly, leaves cradling the raindrops. The scene
was still the same as when Papa and I had moved away to Los Angeles eleven
years ago: the zooming in and out of traffic, the honking of rickshaws and
cars, the distant barking of stray dogs, the sprawled slums in the distance.
Standing here, my suitcases lonely in the doorway, I understood why Papa had
never tried to sell or rent this apartment. After making a home in America for
eleven years, he had hoped to return one day to search for Mukta. After all,
this was where she was kidnapped.
It is said that time heals everything. I don’t
think that’s true. As the years have gone by, I’ve found it odd how simple
things can still remind you of those terrible times or how the moment you try
so hard to forget becomes your sharpest memory.
I stepped out of my apartment that day determined
to find answers. The taxi drivers stood in a queue, waiting, hoping, begging
you to take a ride from them. There was something about this city that I would
never forget. I could see it everywhere, smell it, hear it—the dreams that
lingered on people’s faces, the smell of sweat and grime, the sound of distant
chaos in the air. This was where it had happened—where walls had blown apart,
vehicles had blown away, simple shards of glass had splintered lives, and our
loved ones had become memories. Standing here, an image of Aai floated before
my eyes, waiting for me somewhere, her kohl-lined eyes tearing up as she took
me in her arms. It was different before the blasts had come and taken her away.
taking you anywhere you wanting to go,” a taxi driver called out.
“No here, here . . .” another taxi driver waved.
I nodded to one of them and he hurriedly got
behind the wheel. It began drizzling as I stepped inside. The rain fell softly
“Take me to the police station in Dadar,” I told
“Madam, you coming from foreign, no? I understanding
from the way you speaking. I taking you to the bestest hotels in Mumbai. You
“Take me to the police station,” I repeated,
was quiet the rest of the way, humming quietly to the tune of Bollywood music
roaring through the speakers in his taxi. Outside, the slum dwellers and street
children picking through garbage rolled past us. Heat hovered over the city
despite the drizzle, and the wind smelled of smoke, curry, and drains. People
still walked dangerously close to the speeding traffic, rickshaws sputtered
alongside, and beggars knocked on my taxi window asking for money. The
footpaths still housed many of the poor who lived in makeshift tents, women
haggled with hawkers in the bazaars, and men loitered in corners giving vacant
stares. Behind them, Bollywood movie posters on walls announced the latest
When I was a child, Papa had taken me for a walk
on these very streets. Once I had accompanied Aai to the bazaars and haggled
with shopkeepers alongside her. And there was a time I had sat in the backseat
of a taxi with Mukta next to me while Papa had taken us to the Asiatic library.
How excitedly I had shown her the sea, the garden, and introduced her to my
world. How many times had she walked with me to my school, carrying my
schoolbag, or sat with me on the park bench slurping iced golas? Now,
sitting in the backseat of this taxi, my stomach churned. These moments seemed
to paralyze me; I was unable to breathe, as if the crime I had committed was
slowly strangling me. I pressed my face closer to the open window and forced
myself to breathe.
“Here madam, that’s the police station,” the
driver announced as he pulled over.
It was raining very hard when the taxi came to a
stop, the wipers whipping wildly against the windshield. I stepped into
ankle-deep water as I got down, the rain beating against my umbrella. I paid
the taxi driver. In the distance, near the garbage cans, children in raincoats
splashed water on each other, their giggles coming in waves.
At the station, I found a place on the bench in
the corner and dropped my purse in my lap. Eleven years ago Papa and I had sat
on one such bench in this police station, waiting for hours, to understand what
had happened to us, trying to make sense of it all. Now, as I sat straight,
sandwiched between strangers waiting their turn, I wished Papa were sitting
beside me. In a way, I still carried him with me—his remains—his ashes, capped
tightly in a bottle in my purse. I had brought them here to disperse in the
river, something I needed to do, something that was in accordance with his last
sat at a table nearby, his head behind a mountain of files; another sat
behind him at another table, listening to complaints and noting them in a
register, while yet another sat on a chair not far away, his head buried in a
newspaper. A chaiwala rushed past us carrying chai, placing the
glasses of brown liquid on every table. Outside, police sirens pierced the air,
and the policemen dragged two handcuffed men inside.
The woman before me sobbed and urged the constable
to find her missing son. He yawned, scribbled something in the register, and
then shooed her away. When it was my turn, I sat in front of him. He rubbed his
eyes. “What is your complaint now?” he asked, sounding bored.
“I want to speak to your senior inspector.”
He looked up from his register and narrowed his
eyes, “About what, madam?”
The wooden board behind him had a chart of the
number of murders and kidnappings this year and the cases they had solved.
“It is about a kidnapping that happened eleven
years ago. A girl was kidnapped. My father filed a report then.”
“Eleven years?” The constable raised his eyebrows.
“And you want to search for her now?”
He looked at me curiously and sighed. “Okay, you wait,”
he said, then walked to a closed room and knocked on the door. An inspector
opened the door; the constable pointed to me and whispered something.
The inspector gave me a glance and then walked toward me.
“Inspector Pravin Godbole,” he said, shaking my
hand and introducing himself as the senior inspector of the station.
“I have . . . I am . . . looking for a girl who
was kidnapped. Please, you have to help me. I-I just arrived after a
long flight from America.”
“Give me a
few minutes please; I have someone in my office. I can review your case after
The constable escorted me to his office
after some time. Inspector Godbole had sharp, intelligent eyes that I hoped
would be able to see what others had been unable to see. He asked me to take a
seat. His hat with the emblem Satyamev Jayate—truth alone triumphs—sat
on the desk.
“What can I do for you?”
I sat down, opened my wallet, and teased out the
photograph. How young we looked then—Mukta and I—standing outside the Asiatic
library. He took it from my hand and looked at the photograph.
“I am looking for her, for the girl in the
photograph,” I said.
“Which one?” he asked, squinting at the
“The one on the right, that’s me. The other
one—she was kidnapped eleven years ago.”
His eyebrows angled upward. “Eleven years ago?”
“Uh . . . yes. She was kidnapped from our home
just after the 1993 bomb blasts. I was in the room with her when it happened.”
“So you saw the kidnapper?”
“No . . . not really,” I lied.
The inspector nodded.
was . . . is Mukta. She was a girl . . . an orphan my parents fostered.”
I explained, “My Papa was a kind man. He used to work with many NGOs and
orphanages in his spare time to find a home for abandoned children. Sometimes
he brought them back to our apartment. He rescued street children or poor kids
from villages—one or two at a time—and let them stay in our home. They slept in
the kitchen, ate food Aai made, and then in a few days Papa found them a place
at one orphanage or another. Papa did good any opportunity he got. With Mukta .
. . he tried so hard. Something happened to her back in her village. She just
didn’t speak for a long time. She—”
“I see, I see,” he interrupted. “We’ll try to find
I wanted to tell him that, unlike the other kids
who had lived with us for barely a week or two, Mukta had been with us for five
years. And that she was a good friend. I wanted to tell him how she liked
reading poems and was afraid of the rain . . . and that we had wanted to grow
“My . . . my father had filed an FIR back then . .
. of . . . of the kidnapping.”
The inspector took a deep breath, scratched the
stubble on his chin, and brought the photograph close to his face, staring at
the picture. The photograph was worn out and wrinkled by age like a precious
memory frozen in time, both of us smiling at the camera.
“Ms. Tara, this was such a long time ago. She will
be . . . older now. And we don’t have a recent picture. It will be very
difficult to search for someone without a recent picture. But let me have a
look at her file. I will have to contact the missing person’s bureau. Why look
for a poor village child after all these years? Has she stolen something
precious from your home? Like an heirloom or something?”
“No. No . . . it’s just . . . Papa worked so hard
to give the other children a home. I suppose Papa thought Mukta was the only
one who slipped through the cracks . . . someone he couldn’t protect. He never
forgave himself for that. At the time the police told us they had searched for
her. Papa told me she was dead. Maybe a police inspector told him that. I don’t
know. Papa took me to America after that. I . . . I didn’t know she was alive.
I found some documents in his drawer after his death. He had been searching for
her. And all this time he had been looking for her, I thought she was dead.”
“Nobody looks for such children who have
disappeared madam. Look at all the children living in the slums—there is no one
to take proper care of them, let alone worry how they are doing if they
I looked at
him, not saying anything. There hasn’t been a moment in the last eleven years
that I haven’t wanted to wander back to that summer night, to that split second
when I could have done something to stop it. I knew who the kidnapper was; I
had always known. I had planned it after all. But I didn’t tell the inspector
this, I couldn’t. There would be way more things I would have to reveal than
He flicked the photograph in his hand and sighed
loudly. “Give me a few days. I will look through the files. We are backlogged
with many cases now. You can give the constable all the details.” He signaled
to him and asked him to escort me outside.
“Thank you very much,” I said, standing up.
At the door I turned to him again. “It would be
great if you can help me find her.” He lifted his head momentarily and gave me
a slight nod before going back to his work. It took the constable a few minutes
to take down the details.
I left the station and stood on the porch watching
the police jeeps parked outside, constables carrying files, people waiting
impatiently, and suddenly it seemed futile to have come to this place, to have
asked for their help. They hadn’t even asked the right questions: Did I
remember the day when it happened? What were the sounds I heard before I knew
what was happening? The exact time on the bedroom clock? Why did the kidnapper
not kidnap me instead? Why did I not scream? Why did I not wake up Papa who was
sleeping in the next room? If they had asked me those questions, I was afraid
the truth would come spilling out of me.