“Yeah…”, he said.
That’s a pretty close approximation to one of my first conversations with Karsh Kale: drummer, tabla master, producer, composer, and — at the time — my new neighbor who was introducing me to his cat. Karsh has since decamped to what I hope for his sake is a less shady building, but I still see him in the ‘hood from time to time. A few months ago, I bumped into him on the street and asked him what he was up to.
“Bruce Lee?”, I said.
When Ludmila first succeeded in escaping, she was handed back to her pimp by the duty sergeant, who happened to be a client of the brothel. In response, she was beaten senseless by her “owner”. The second time she got away, she handed herself in to a police station in another part of town. As is habitual, she was charged with being an illegal immigrant and thrown into a detention center for several months as her deportation order was processed.
When she finally arrived back in Chisinau, destitute and traumatized for life, Ludmila could not return to her home, partly for reasons of shame but above all for fear of being found by her traffickers. Hers is an everyday story of life in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, and Israel.
The day after I had spoken to Ludmila, her case worker called. “I forgot to mention,” she said, “Ludmila is now HIV-positive.” Unsurprisingly, combination therapy is not readily available in a country such as Moldova.1