Jigoku Shoujo: Dirty Streets

What could a young, teenage boy from the slums of India want with Jigoku Shoujo?

This is a Case Story fanfiction set in the world of Jigoku Shoujo.

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6. Dirty Streets Chapter Six

            Kajal thought he was lying on something soft. He could distantly hear the sound of children singing. That was strange. Had he been reincarnated into a better world? That didn’t make sense either. He was going to Hell. He wasn’t going to be reincarnated, or ever reach moksha.

            Just then, the pain in his lungs and stomach came back with full force, and he moaned weakly. He felt a hand on his shoulder, ad opening his eyes, he saw a man above him, holding a water bottle. Instinctively, he opened his mouth, and the man raised his head a little, giving him a drink. Kajal drank the whole bottle, and he felt a little stronger.

            “Please, sir…” he mumbled. Maybe the question would sound silly, but he had to know: “Am I in Hell?”

            The man looked surprised. “No,” he said.

            If he wasn’t in Hell yet, then…Kajal suddenly sat straight up. “Selma!” he cried, “Where’s Selma?”

            “Shh, it’s okay,” the man said, helping Kajal t lie down again, “Are you talking about the little girl with you? Is she your sister?”

            Kajal nodded. “Yes, my sister…where—”

            “She’s right here,” the man said, “Look.”

            Kajal turned his head and saw that Selma was right beside him, sleeping, but not dead. They were both lying on straw mattresses on the floor. Tears filled his eyes. “Please…please don’t hurt her,” he begged, “I’m too weak to protect her anymore.”

            “No, of course we won’t hurt her,” the man assured him gently, “Would you like to have some more water?”

            “Give her water first,” Kajal said.

            “It’s all right; she’s already woken up a little, and we gave her some.”

            “She hasn’t had any except just a little last night—or…or whenever it was that we came here!” Kajal exclaimed, “She needs more! Now!” He was crying again, and he angrily dashed away the tears with the back of his hand and turned sullenly away.

            Without a word, the man took another bottle of water and went to Selma. He shook her shoulder gently, and she woke up, whimpering a little. Slowly, he fed her the whole bottle of water, then another. Then he gave Kajal another bottle of water.

            When they were strong enough to sit up, the man said, “I’m just going out for a bit to bring you some food, all right?” He turned to leave.

            “Wait,” Kajal said. Now that he was a little stronger, he felt strangely affronted by the man’s kindness.

            The man turned back to face him, smiling.

            “Why are you being so nice to us?” Kajal demanded, “Don’t you know we’re Dalits?”

            “There’s no such thing as a Dalit, because there is no such thing as reincarnation,” the man returned sternly, “All human beings are created specially in the image of God, and there is only one punishment for sin, which is Hell.”

            “You mean all this isn’t a punishment for my past life?” Kajal returned angrily, “What is it, then? Why do we have to suffer like this? For no reason?”

            I’ll answer all your questions when I come back,” the man said, “But you urgently need food, so that comes first.”

            Honestly, Kajal was glad that food came first, but he didn’t feel that the man had answered his question. He looked over at Selma, who had fallen asleep again.

            The concept of being in the image of God was not entirely foreign to Kajal. He had never studied Hinduism; he had only grown up with it, but there seemed some concept that the human form was a physical manifestation of God.

            But the physical was not good; it was not ultimate reality. The goal he had been taught to strive for was a release from the physical. To seek physical satisfaction was to move farther from that ultimate good of total spirituality.

            Of course, that was a hard concept to apply when you were starving all the time.

            The smell of hot rice wafted through the door, and Kajal found himself happily entrenched in physical cravings. That rice couldn’t be for him, could it? And was that the scent of curry? Kajal’s mouth watered, using what little fluid he had in him. He had smelled curry many times before, but had never tasted it.

            The man came in, carrying two heaping plates of rice and chicken curry. Woken again by the sound at the door, Selma sat straight up, staring wide-eyed at the fragrant, steaming food. Kajal knew she felt as he did: Is that really for me?       

            Suddenly, Kajal was seized with suspicion. This was all too good to be true. Did this man want to take Selma too? Fiercely, Kajal looked up at him. “What’s the price for all this?” he demanded.

            The man laughed gently. “Price? There is no price,” he replied, “It’s a gift.” But when Kajal still looked at him suspiciously, he grew serious. He set the food down on a table and sat on the floor beside Kajal’s mattress, looking from Kajal to Selma beside him.

            “I realize I haven’t introduced myself yet,” he said, “My name is Pastor Rajesh, and I work here at the Church of the Nazarene Child Development Centre.”

            Kajal didn’t know what the man’s title meant. “And what exactly is a child development centre?” he asked.

            “It’s part of an organization called ‘Compassion International’,” Pastor Rajesh explained, “It’s a Christian ministry for sponsoring children. That means that the children who come here have sponsors who pay for them to be fed and go to school. At the project here in Kakdwip, we teach the children the Bible and life skills on the weekends.” He sounded like he had explained this many times before.

            “Well, we don’t have sponsors, so why are you helping us?” Kajal said, still unsure whether to trust him.

            Pastor Rajesh smiled warmly. “I found you starving to death on the beach; of course I wouldn’t leave you there!” he exclaimed, as though rescuing starving Dalits was the most obvious thing he could do.

            Kajal had never known kindness like this before. He didn’t know what to say.

            “Now, please, eat,” Rajesh insisted, standing up and holding out the plates of food to them, “I promise I won’t ask anything in return.”

            Something about the pastor compelled Kajal to trust him. He snatched the plastic plate from the man’s hand and began to eat hungrily, picking up balls of scalding rice with his fingers and dipping them in the curry sauce.

            When Selma saw her brother take the food, she accepted her plate as well and ate joyfully. Discovering that the food was too hot—both in temperature and spice—she blew out her cheeks in an attempt to cool her mouth. Rajesh gave her and Kajal each another bottle of water.

            That meal was the most delicious and satisfying of Kajal’s life, and he and Selma probably downed 8 water bottles each before their lungs stopped aching from the dehydration. After that, they both needed to go to the bathroom, so Rajesh directed them to the toilets just around the corner.

            As Kajal and Selma stepped outside, they were met with a group of healthy, laughing children, all wearing blue uniforms. Shyly, Selma hid behind Kajal, but she watched them longingly as they went past, like she would give anything to join them.

            Afterwards, they met with Pastor Rajesh again. “Please, sit,” he said, “I have something very important to talk to you about.” Kajal and Selma sat on the straw mattresses, and Rajesh sat on the floor, facing them.

            For a moment, he was silent, looking from one of them to the other. Then, seeming to decide what to say first, he asked, “Do you know who Jesus is?”

            “Please, sir, he’s one of the gods,” Selma replied. Her family was too poor to afford household gods, but she knew there were some people who worshiped Jesus as a god.

            “No. Jesus is the one true God,” Rajesh told her.

            “Of course, because in reality, nothing is distinct from God,” Kajal recited in annoyance, thinking he wasn’t interested in a religious lesson just now, “What’s your point?”

            “That’s not true either,” Rajesh said, “God created all things, but He is distinct from all things. He is a Person: an all-powerful, all-seeing Person, but a Person. He is creative and loving.”

            This was different. Kajal had never heard these ideas before, in Monistic Hinduism. But, then, if Hell existed, then what he had been taught growing up might not have been true. Frowning, he listened more closely.

            “When God created the universe, He made human beings special, in His own image,” Rajesh went on, “But the first two people who lived disobeyed Him: they sinned. Evil is to think or act against God’s will, and its punishment is separation from Him. Ever since the first two people sinned, the curse of sin entered the word, which is why we live in such a dirty, ugly world like this.”

            Dirty and ugly is right, Kajal thought.

            “Hell is eternal destruction and separation from God,” Rajesh said, and Kajal raised his eyebrows, recognizing the definition from what Enma Ai had said, “All people deserve Hell because they live in rebellion against a just God.”

            Kajal remembered the terrible loneliness in his brief taste of Hell, and wondered if that could be what was meant by separation from God. He tried to feel God’s presence around them now, but could not specifically identify it. Still, the loneliness was absent.

            “Kajal, Selma,” the pastor addressed them each by name as though he felt what he was about to say was the most important thing they could hear, “God loves you, and His deepest desire is to be with you. So even though you deserve Hell, He made a way for you to escape that fate. He came in the form of a man: Jesus Christ His Son, and died a horrible death to take that punishment for you. To escape Hell and be with Him, you need only to believe in Him.”

            “And what then?” Selma asked. She seemed to love what she was hearing, but Kajal hid his disappointment. Even if what Pastor Rajesh was saying was true, and escaping Hell was as simple as believing in Jesus, Kajal knew that he was specially marked for Hell. He had sent another person to Hell: there was no escape for him.

            “Well,” Rajesh answered Selma, smiling, “Then you go to Heaven. Heaven isn’t becoming indistinct from God, but rather being together with Him, as you and I are together, but different people. Only in Heaven, there will be perfect love between us and God. And someday, He’s going to destroy this dirty, ugly world and recreate it as a perfect, beautiful world where there will be no more sin. Jesus purifies us from sin.”

            “Excuse me, are you saying that Heaven will be physical?” Kajal asked.

            “That’s right.”

            “But then, how can we ever be liberated from the physical?” Kajal demanded.

            “We don’t need to be liberated from it,” Rajesh argued, “When God created this universe, He said it was good. The physical and spiritual sides of reality are equal in importance, but they’re equally infected by sin and need to be purified. God created us to live as physical and spiritual beings.”

            “Okay, but what will happen if I believe in Jesus?” Selma asked anxiously. She didn’t seem interested in those philosophical distinctions.

            “You’ll be adopted into God’s family,” Rajesh replied, “Jesus will be your brother, and God your Father, and He will love you and be with you just as He always intended. When you die, you’ll go to Heaven,” he looked at Kajal, “You too.”

            “No I won’t,” Kajal muttered, “I’m going to Hell.”

            “You won’t go to Hell if you believe in Jesus,” Rajesh urged.

            “Even if I believe, I’ll still go to Hell,” Kajal said, glaring at him, “What I’ve done guarantees I’ll go to Hell.”

            “What are you saying, Bhaiya?” Selma cried, but Kajal didn’t answer her.

            Rajesh tried to take his hand, but he shook him off. Instead, the pastor simply said, “Kajal, what we’ve done has nothing to do with our salvation. We could never do enough good to attain Heaven. Salvation is a free gift from God; it’s called grace. There is absolutely nothing you can do to put yourself beyond God’s reach.”

            “You don’t know what I’ve done,” Kajal said resentfully.

            “I don’t need to know.”

            “Well, now that you’ve rescued us, what are you planning to do?” Kajal asked, wanting to change the subject.

            Rajesh’s smile looked to Kajal almost mischievous. “Well, I was hoping to bring Selma into the project and get her sponsored,” he replied, “Do you have any other family?”

            Kajal was momentarily speechless. Selma? Sponsored? She would be able to go to school! She would never be starving again! Best of all, no pimp would ever be able to take her. His heart felt like it might burst with joy, but at the mention of his family, grief tainted that joy.

            “Please, sir,” he said, “I have a little brother who’s dying of diarrhea…or he might even be dead; it was a few days ago. My sister and I came from Calcutta. We were running away, but it’s safe for us to go back now. If I could just have some medicine for my brother, and the money to get back, I’ll take it to him, please. But then I’ll come back to Kakdwip so my sister and I can live here, and she can be sponsored.”

            “Why not take your brother medicine and a water filter, so he can have clean water?” Rajesh offered, “Then bring your whole family to live in Kakdwip. I’ll cover the expenses. But you can only borrow the filter. It was donated from Compassion’s Water of Life program, and we’ll be sending it to a nearby village in a few weeks.”

            Kajal couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Generosity like that simply didn’t exist in his world. If this was what followers of Jesus were like, he wanted Selma to be one, even if he couldn’t be one himself. “Do you mean it, sir?” he asked in amazement.

            “I’d be cruel to joke about it,” Rajesh replied, “Of course I mean it!”

            Kajal leapt to his feet. “Then please, let me go right away!” he exclaimed. The longer he waited, the more likely it was that his brother would be dead when he got home.

            Pastor Rajesh stood too. “All right,” he said, “But let me send someone from the project with you. You’ll at least need help carrying the filter.”

            Taking Kajal outside, Rajesh introduced him to a 19-year-old girl named Saraswathi. She was very kind and well-spoken, and she always seemed to know what she was doing. She walked with a slight limp, but Kajal didn’t understand why until he realized that one of her legs was a prosthetic. Before they left, Pastor Rajesh gave them a box of diarrhea medicine (which they seemed to have a stock of at the project), the water filter from Compassion, and 1,000 rupees out of his own pocket. He apologized for the money not being enough, but Kajal had never seen so much money in his life, so he didn’t mind.

            And so, within an hour, Kajal and Saraswathi were bumping along toward Calcutta in the back of a pickup truck, Kajal still wondering if this was actually happening. They arrived at Kajal’s home that evening.

            Kajal’s parents’ desperate anger at this opportunity he had stolen from them quickly changed to joy when he and Saraswathi presented the medicine and told them that Selma was to be sponsored. Ravi was at death’s door, but still breathing. Pouring some water into the filter, they drained some into a cup and Kajal was amazed to see that it came out perfectly clean and clear.

            They slowly fed water to Ravi until he opened his eyes, and then they gave him some of the medicine. Part of the extra money they used to buy food, but they saved enough to travel back to Kakdwip.

            The medicine worked wonders: Ravi was mostly healed within a few days. Once he was well enough to walk, the whole family traveled back to Kakdwip, bringing what little tattered clothes and plastic dishes they had. They reunited with Selma with tears of repentance and relief.

            Kajal noticed that a change had come over her. There was a depth in her eyes that he had never seen before: a depth of peace, love, and joy. He asked her and found that she had spent those few days talking with Pastor Rajesh about Jesus, and with childlike faith, she had believed.

            Seeing this in Selma, Kajal wanted to believe too, but he couldn’t. He looked down at the black mark on his chest, the circle with a flame in the center. It meant he was going to Hell. He had made a covenant with Jigoku Shoujo.

 

 

 

 

            That night, Kajal lay in a bed Rajesh had insisted he use. He was weeping uncontrollably, trying to keep as silent as possible, but soaking his pillow with tears. Jesus had done so much for Selma, for their family. Kajal wanted to believe in Jesus. He wanted to love Jesus. But he couldn’t believe that Jesus would save him. Kajal was damned already. For him, there was no escaping Hell.

            But Kajal did love Jesus, the One who had saved his sister. If he had known before that Jesus was watching over Selma, he might never have called Jigoku Shoujo. But he had, and that was that. Whatever he had done, though, he still loved Jesus.

            “I love You,” he whispered shakily into the darkness through his tears, “I’ll love You even from the depths of Hell.”

            With these words, a peace came over him, and his eyes grew heavy. As he drifted off to sleep, he thought he repented of sending Hakim to Hell. Also, and at the same time, he felt he had forgiven Hakim.

            When he woke up the next morning, the mark was gone from his chest.

 

 

 

 

            In the land where the sun was always setting, Enma Ai sat on the porch with Wanyuudo, Hone-Onna, and Ichimoku Ren.

            “Is that possible?” Ichimoku Ren exclaimed, referring to the disappearance of Kajal’s mark, “Is that even allowed?”

            Enma Ai was silent for a time, staring pensively out at the mountains as her three friends turned to her for an answer.

            Just when Hone-Onna was about to ask if she had heard, Enma Ai spoke.

            “Two holes appear when you curse a person,” she said, “If God Himself chooses to fall into one of them…it’s all right.”

            A spider with three yellow and black spots like eyes hung in a web above Enma Ai’s head. Inside, it seethed with rage, but there was nothing it could do.

 

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Thank you for reading through this entire story! If you'll stay with me a little longer, I just want to tell you why I wrote it.

 

Human trafficking is very real problem in the world today. It's worst in countries like India and Colombia, but it happens all over the world, even in the United States. There are more slaves in the world today than there ever have been—even more than there were when Africans were sold as slaves. Most of these slaves are women in the sex trade, who are "conditioned" by means of repeated rape and abuse.

 

How can we fight this? Well, first of all, by raising awareness. I don't think most people realize what a pervasive and horrendous thing this is. Prostitutes on TV are portrayed as glamorous and well-content individuals, but in reality, most of them are forced into the industry by a desperate need for money, or by kidnapping.

 

The best way to stop human trafficking is to stifle it out. The reason pimps are in the business is because they get a lot of business: sex sells, and for high prices. I plead with you, then, in light of what you just read, do not get involved with prostitution or looking at porn. Yes, the women on porn sites are also victims of human trafficking. If we do not give the pimps any business, the industry will die.

 

Finally, we can support groups like Compassion International, that give sponsorships to children in impoverished areas. These children—just like Selma—are at very high risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, but if they're sponsored, it will remove the desperate need for money that drives parents to sell their own children.

 

Please do consider supporting Compassion, or even sponsoring a child in need. Their website is: www.compassion.com

 

Many thanks, and God bless!

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