Perfume of Hell - Deposition

Perfume of Hell - Deposition

Perfume of Hell - Deposition
Perfume of Hell - Deposition

The young policeman who sat opposite me seemed nice. He spoke my language, Spanish. But my neighbor in my village also seemed nice and yet he deceived me and threw me in this precipice. I looked at him perplexed. Thank goodness the old lady was sitting next to me. Her, yes, I trusted for she had helped me. But I don’t understand why she helped me. I was told that she had helped many girls like me. Why?

Maybe she was a little crazy. The policeman begun to talk to me. He asked me my name, my village, whether I had children. Easy questions, easy answers. Then he asked me how I found myself in this country. Who had brought me here, why I had no legal documents and how I had met Mrs. K. I looked at him without speaking. 
Did he want me to tell the whole story, the nightmare of the past six months?

You have to tell me the whole truth, he said smiling.

The truth? But everything was so complicated. And if I did tell him the truth would he believe me? And what was the truth? That a neighbor had deceived me? And why did I fall for his lies? I wanted so much to escape from the misery of my life that I would have followed anybody. If only I could have imagined the hell that I would be thrown into… But how could I have? The old lady nudged me.

Go on then, talk. We came here so that you could tell Nicolashow you came to be here. Talk to him, tell him everything.

I walked a long time in the night. There were other people there. There was also a child. They cut the barbed wire. Two cars were waiting for us. We travelled for a long time. They took me to a house. I was dead tired and I slept. When I woke up I saw that there was another girl there someone that I had met in Istanbul the previous month.

Who passed you through the barbed wire?

I don’t know. They spoke Turkish.

How long did you stay in Istanbul?

Four months.

Where did you stay?

In a hotel. There were many other people there.

All of them are from my country.

What were you waitingfor?

False passports that would be sent from Peru so that we could go to Spain.

What did you do in Istanbul for such a long time?


What do you mean “nothing” who paid for the hotel?

We did.

With what money? Did you work?


I would say nothing more. I would not tell this young man what they were forcing us to do in that hotel. The old lady looked at me pleadingly.

Go on Nelly,you have to tell him.

No, I shouted and I burst into tears.

Do you want to talk to a woman? The old lady asked me.

Nicolas brought me a glass of water.The old lady got up and said in a tone that sounded almost like a command.

Bring a woman translator. If the interrogation is conducted by a woman it will be easier for her to speak.

But I have heard so many such stories…explained Nicolas.

You may well have, but it is the first time she sees you, said the old lady.


The next day we went back to the same office. There was a police woman and a lady translator. I wanted the old lady to stay with me in the room but they did not let her.

I will be waiting in the corridor outside, she said. But please talk, tell them everything. It depends on you to have these criminals punished.

I talked. I told them how they forced all of us to prostitute ourselves in that hotel. If we did not agree we would die of hunger. But why do I feel such unbearable shame and despair? One girl who did not accept to become a whore was beaten so badly that they had to take her to the hospital. I don’t know what happened to her. I was scared. This is why I am ashamed. I know that I am a coward.

After Istanbul what happened? The translator asked me.

They sent me by plane to Cyprus. I was picked up by someone who spoke Turkish. After that the march in the middle of the night, then the barbed wire…I told all that to Nicolas yesterday.

After that?

After that…

After that?

When would these questions end “after that”? I was back in hell. I was reliving the nightmare of the past months.

Then, by chance in the street, I met a young woman who spoke my language. She was well dressed and beautiful. She took me to a coffee shop and bought me something to eat. She did not ask me anything. She just said:

If you want help I know some people who help girls like us.

Yes, I said, I do want help and I started to cry.

After that? The translator asked again.

After that, we telephoned somewhere. This is how I met the old lady.I stayed in her house for a couple of days.

Did you pay her? Asked the translator.

Not at all, I said. She gave me clothes, food, shoes…

Why do you think that she helped you?

I don’t know, I said. There are some other old ladies, friends of hers, who also help. Maybe they are a little crazy.

I thought that the only way that I could manage to lift the unbearable burden that I have been carrying would be to talk to my mother. The same evening I started writing to her:

For three whole months, mother dear, I was held prisoner in a hotel in Istanbul. Together with other women from our country we were forced to sell our bodies. You don’t want to know the details…It was torture. When I could not bear it any longer and my visa had expired, I pleaded with my executioners to let me go.

Then their chief bought me an airplane ticket and sent me to north Cyprus. Someone met me there and took me to the immigration office. I did not understand what they were saying as they were speaking in Turkish. It seemed as if they were concluding an agreement between them. He took me to a room and then I understood…I was the payment.

When they finished with me they left me there, terrified and all alone. The next day a young man that I had never seen before came into the room. “Get up” he said, “I will pass you to south Cyprus”.

He took me outside the town. I was trembling with fear and cold. I don’t know how long after this I met a group of women and men. We started to walk. I would say that we walked for about three hours, maybe even longer. “Hurry up” they shouted at us “we have to cross the border before dawn”. At the border their cars were waiting for us. I got into one with two other girls. I fell asleep, exhausted.

Mother dear, you may not believe me. Some stories are unbelievable, I know. I swear that they are true. And if I could tell you all the details they would be even more impossible to believe. When I woke up it was daytime. The sun was already high in the sky. A woman, a compatriot of ours, seemed to be in charge in the house they had put us in. She explained to us that we were now in Cyprus and that one of

these days the boss would come and would bring us the much-awaited passports that would enable us to travel to Spain. Until then we had to work.

Enough for today. Just remembering all this makes me sick. I will continue another day.

Mi mama,

In this house, we stayed for two days. Then they threw us out. “Go and get yourselves a job” they ordered us. Work… That is all we wanted also. But how can one find work without papers and without knowing the language of the country? We sat at the side of the road and tried to think. Carla was crying.

Suddenly a pick-up truck stopped in front of us. A gentleman came out and was asking us something. We did not understand a word of what he was saying. He made a sign for us to get into the car. Who was he? Where was he taking us? What did it matter? Even if he were the devil himself what could happen to us that would be worse than what we had already gone through?

The car stopped at a building site. He waved to us to get out. We understood that we were supposed to help the workers. We carried sandbags and bricks. We were so happy! When the workers stopped for lunch we sunk to the floor exhausted. They gave us food and water. At the end of the day our savior took us to an apartment of sorts with two mattresses. What did it matter? We lay down on them and fell asleep immediately.

I don’t know how many hours later, it was night, the door opened; the gentleman and a friend of his came in. They woke us up, suggested that we eat something with them, and then… We did not resist, what would be the point, after all, we had been through?

I am writing to you again. This question is torturing me: How could a compatriot of mine have done such a terrible thing to me? How can he deceive poor people just to earn money?

Mi querida,

It is Christmas today. Last night Mrs. K. invited us to her house. We were six girls from different countries all trafficking victims. Each girl’s story was almost the same. Only the degree of the nightmare may have been different. Mrs. K. had also invited some of her friends. Good food, a Christmas tree, logs burning in the fireplace and many presents. I wish I could have felt happiness, peace and optimism. Maybe one day I will manage to feel these things. Today I  am angry, indignant, and desperate. The only thing I want is to forget. This is why I will tear everything I wrote in very small pieces and I will throw them in the rubbish bin.

I am going out in order to send you a Christmas card to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Source: Perfume of Hell, 2011, Cyprus Stop Trafficking