TRIGGER WARNING: The story below is about domestic and acid-attack violence.
“It happened when I was sleeping next to my husband and daughter. I woke up feeling like someone had thrown fire on me. I screamed as I felt my skin melt from my face and arms. My father had broken in, attacked me with acid and fled. I was in pain, but kept asking, ‘Why?’
On my way to the hospital, I realised it was because a few days back, I’d firmly told him to stop abusing Ma, or I’d report him.
When we arrived, my treatment began but the pain was unbearable. After, I started living with Ma and my husband would get me medicines every day. They didn’t let me look in the mirror because they didn’t want me to relive the trauma.
Finally, after months, I snuck into the loo and saw my face. I screamed and started crying. Ma rushed in, held me and said, ‘You’re beautiful, this is just a small injury!’
Over time, I began to heal– I got an eye, arm and ear operation. But on the day of my eye operation, Ma passed away. I was devastated and wanted to kill myself. Even my husband started distancing; he refused to be seen with me in public. Then, he tried to cut me off from my siblings. He beat me everyday, had affairs and threatened to leave.
At the time, I was pregnant with my second daughter. I could endure the pain, but my biggest fear was my girls having such a man as their father. I knew I had to leave him, but I didn’t have the money. The abuse continued– he’d sprinkle hot oil on me and even brought a gun home.
I tried looking for a job, but kept getting rejected. Finally, I applied to Sheroes and got a job as a waitress! I made it a point to never cover my face. I was guilty of nothing, so what did I have to hide?
Plus, work allowed me to talk to people and share my story that I began to heal. When I finally started earning enough, I filed for divorce and left him.
Now, I’m earning my own money, managing the house with my siblings, and fighting 2 cases– one for me and my mom, and one for me and my daughter. Because my mother and I deserve justice for the abuse we bore, and my daughters will never suffer whilst I’m alive.
I’m fighting for justice and I won’t let these men get away with it. My father may have burnt my face, but not my courage.”
Reproduced from Humans of Bombay.