Sayona’s story : What we all must know -- Dr Pradnya Ajinkya

1] Nine year old Sayona feels sick almost every day. Many days she felt ill and would avoid going to school. Other times she’d throw up in school. 

2] In the counselling sessions Sayona was wailing and feeling violently ill. She cannot hide her sadness and cannot explain her fears about losing mother. 

3] The counsellor held out hope that her mother was safe but Sayona was so restless that she would get up from her chair, cry and then go back and sit on her chair and cry.

4] In one session, Sayona opened her school bag and gave a big packet with several coffee sachets to the counsellor. The counsellor was not able to describe the contents immediately. She asked the child about the sachets and the availability in her school bag. 

5] According to Sayona, a tall fair lady came along with a small girl and placed the packets in her bag. She was not able to say from where and when they came. “Please ask Krupa Uncle. He is the attendant in the school bus. Uncle is not coming since 4 days. He promised to give me a big chocolate. But I don’t want to carry these packets. When I tell that fair lady she shouts and pushes me. I am scared they will kill my mother, she cried before the counsellor. 

6] Sayona’s mother explained to the counsellor that she married Ram 12 years ago. She didn’t know what any other life is like. She lived in an illusion that she was happy in her marriage and in control of her life. 

7] Two years back her husband committed suicide. “I cannot explain how frightened I was when I saw my husband hanging on the fan. I was unable to move and desperately needed someone to come and save Ram. I crawled to the family doctor who came home within minutes. The doctor declared Ram dead. Then I literally felt nothing. I could do nothing. My brain was not functioning at any level. I could not even bring myself to talk to anyone because I had no voice. I didn’t have any words to say. I woke up each day having spent in a state of anxiety, despair and fear. I wanted to kill myself. My recovery time was lengthened by months. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places,” she narrated to the counsellor.

8] “Over the past two years after her father’s death, Sayona went through a lot. She is in constant fear of losing me. But I am not able to connect the fair lady, coffee sachets and bus attendant. I can’t connect why they targeted Sayona?” spoke the aggrieved mother. 

9] The special investigation team appointed uncovered drugs in the coffee sachets.


Sayona’s father had a tragic death. The current investigation ruled that Ram had committed suicide, but also attributed his death due to pressures from this unknown lady who was trafficking drugs.

It must have been incredibly difficult for Sayona to handle the lady, sachets and Krupa Uncle.

The fair lady must have threatened the child that her mother would also die in similar circumstances. 

Sayona is going through a double bereavement process and lot of conflicting feelings.

The lady singled out Sayona and not other children.

Q] Despite the best professional efforts at all levels why are children invariably being used for trafficking?
In the years of my working experience there have been important and time-sensitive decisions about the rise in drug abuse, trafficking and their personal safety. Many young children are becoming addicted too.

Q] Which population must be targeted as a vital part of the Prevention Strategy?
Drug addiction is a complex and pervasive health issue causing untold damage to themselves, families an
d communities. A population of age group 12-17 must be targeted for extensive education and prevention efforts along with treatment if necessary.  

Q] Effective treatment for many drug related problems?
Behavioral therapies remain the effective treatment.  In addition, a comprehensive system needs to be developed at all levels of education to improve the understanding of trafficking, drug abuse and addiction among children and adolescents.

Q] Difference in the brain activity?
The addicted brain is distinctly different from the non-addicted brain, as manifested by changes in brain metabolic activity, receptor availability, gene expression, and responsiveness to environmental cues.

Q] Role of care givers? 
Some couples even with children are at the end of their relationship (when one does and the other doesn’t) because of drug habits. Can drugs simply be a part of any relationship or family? What are families cultivating?

Case: Rising cases of drug abuse in women: A young lady explained John and I are raised in totally different environments. I am tired of his anti-drug propaganda. I cannot continue being his ‘good wife’ all the time. He has no idea what I am saying because he has not experienced. Is that my fault?

Case: Rising cases of Marijuana in schools and colleges: We are sure this rising problem is also a need of the hour. This is a tragic cycle. The corrections and treatment professionals must join in common purpose to break the cycle of drugs and crime by reducing drug consumption which will help the suffering parents and children from losing each other to a world of no return.