“My family could only afford to send my brothers to school — I remember sitting with my older brother’s books after he’d done his homework, absorbing everything I could. When my father died, my brother took over as the head of the family, working my father’s job as a guard. I had to help out, so I looked for a job as a housemaid. I was hired by a lady whose only condition was that I learned how to stitch — she said I’d need other skills if I wanted to make something of myself. I began earning well and dreamt of becoming a designer.
In 2002, my sister had a miscarriage — my mother and I went to visit her. There, I met my sister’s brother-in-law. We didn’t know each other that well, but he proposed to me. I was only 16, not ready to get married, and was weirded out by this guy. He would corner me — I didn’t know why he was so insistent. I refused and so did my mother…
One day, he kept walking in and out of the room… I was uncomfortable so I went outside. That’s when he threw something hot at me and said, ‘if I can’t have you, no-one can’. I thought he threw hot water on me — but I only remember screaming. Men around came rushing towards me and brought water to wash me, but the burning didn’t stop. I don’t remember much — I was in and out of consciousness.
The men didn’t want to take me to the hospital — they were afraid that they would get into trouble with the police. It was my mother who finally took me to the hospital by rickshaw. By the time we got there, we were told we had to wait until morning because it was late. They kept me in an isolation ward because I was screaming the whole night.
The next 3 years were about surgeries, anesthesia, and different treatments. People would tell my family that there was no point spending money on me and that I was ruining the family name — but my brother and mother never left my side, even when I went for rehabilitation.
I was getting better and wanted a regular life, I wanted to be normal… I wanted to get married, but I didn’t have hope. After a lot of rejected meetings, I met my ex-husband in 2010. We got married soon after; but turns out, he wanted to marry me only so my brother could financially support him too. However, the light in that marriage was my son, my pride and joy!
Finding a job seemed impossible, but in 2014, I was reading the newspaper and found an article about a restaurant that hired survivors of acid attacks. I took a few weeks to reach out and since then it’s been a dream. Working at Sheroes has given me a platform to share my story with the world, it has given me a community of incredible women.
I’ve gone from being afraid of going out, or covering my face, to wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I’m financially independent and providing for my son. When sometimes his friends make fun of me, he tells them all how I’m a survivor — and that right there is my validation. So every time I look in the mirror, that’s what I see — a mother, a survivor, a warrior… everything but a victim.”
Post Courtesy: Humans of Bombay