Joined: 11 October 2011
Just Another Life by BlueMystique 27 Nov
The Everyday Eve by Eccentrica-
Phoenix- Pg 29
'I'm Beautiful'- By Naach_Basanti
'Please Arnav no...'
'Please go away!'
'You can't see me, not now, not ever.'
Khushi was returning home early after delivering lunch to her clients. The catering business had taken off quite well and had kept Khushi busy.
The traffic had been non-disruptive on the particular day which allowed her to deliver the lunch boxes across the city in good time.
She was conjuring up ideas on what she could do with the additional free time. She had taken a long leisurely shower, did a bit of gardening and then decided to cook Arnav a special romantic dinner. She was going to bake him a sugar free cake too. It had been a while since they had some alone time together. After Shyam's deceit had been exposed, it felt like the family had been hit by a storm. Initially Anjali had refused to believe that Shyam could do something as sinister as plan her killing and even kidnap her brother. But when Khushi, NK and Arnav had proved to her beyond all doubts that Shyam was indeed the mastermind behind all the wrongs of the last year, she had been shell-shocked. Shyam had been handed over to the police. Before the cops could take him away, Shyam broke free of their hold and grabbed Khushi threateningly.
'Khushiji you will pay for this.' He had warned her with manic glint in his eyes.
'Don't think this this is over.' He had screamed looking into her eyes while the cops took him away. Khushi had decided to ignore the baseless threats of someone who she considered psychologically deranged. Arnav hadn't though. He increased the security in the house and had made Khushi promise that she would always travel in a car assigned to her.
Over the course of the next few months they had spent all their energies focusing on Anjali's rehabilitation who was diagnosed with clinical depression. Khushi religiously took Anjali to each of her appointments, accompanied her on evening walks in the park nearby and even tried to cheer her up by visits to the cinema. Arnav would spend quality time with his sister every evening trying to reach out to her, helping her mend her broken heart and confidence. Anjali had started responding to treatment and with her doctor's approval Nani and she decided to spend a week away at Rishikesh.
'Jiji I can't hear anything from this side?'
'Can you please come to this side and speak?'
'Have I become partially deaf? Why did this happen to me jiji?'
'Why did Devi Mayya not protect me from him jiji?'
She had been humming the tune of an old Hindi song as she prepared a luxurious dinner. Arnav and she had been busy firefighting one issue after another since their wedding months ago. Unlike regular newly married couples their married life was filled with one hurdle after another. But through all these hurdles, they had managed to stay together, their love only growing stronger with each passing day. After the revelations, they had been there for each other every step of the way, silently supporting and silently trusting. Last week Arnav had told her that once Anjali got better he wanted to whisk her away on a long overdue honeymoon. Khushi had blushed at the mere mention of the word honeymoon. And Arnav had teased her by saying that if the word could produce such an effect, he wondered how would Khushi react when he did all the things that he planned on doing during the honeymoon. Khushi had slapped his arms away and had ran away from the room.
As Khushi recollected their conversation she smiled to herself. She couldn't wait for Arnav to be back home today.
'Why can't I close my eyelids doctor?'
'Why can't I touch my hair doctor?'
'Will I ever get better?'
'Can I see a mirror?' Please?'
After she had put the dough for the cake in the oven Khushi had decided to freshen up and change. She decided to wear the new red saree that she had picked from AR. She had also bought some new lingerie to surprise Arnav. She had initially decided to wear it during their honeymoon but she felt that tonight's romantic dinner warranted the inauguration of the new lingerie. Arnav had always been the one to make the move where their sex life was concerned. Khushi had always responded to him shyly never really letting go of her inhibitions. For once she wanted to make the first move and she would do it with the new outfit and lingerie.
As she wrapped her sarees around her, while making sure that the pleats of the saree fell just below her navel, Khushi heard some one ring the bell. She had panicked, she was yet to set the table and Arnav was already here. She wore the rest of her saree and sprayed some perfume around her neck. She waited in the bedroom for Arnav to arrive. She would then ask him to take a shower, and she would use the time to arrange the table.
'I love you Khushi.'
'You know you are the one for me.'
'This makes no difference to me Khushi.'
'Please look at me baby,'
Khushi heard some commotion near the door and decided to go down and see what it was all about. She had forgotten her phone in the room.
'You! What are you doing here?'
'Khushiji you did wrong by me. You should have chosen me over him.'
'Get out of my house now Shyam. Security take this man out.'
'Khushiji give me some credit. Do you think I would walk into the building without taking care of the security? He is lying unconscious outside after I hit him on his head.'
Khushi saw the same manic glint in his eyes. She started walking backwards as an attempt to put some distance from him. 'What do you want Shyam?'
'I want you Kushiji. Leave Arnav and come with me.'
'Never.' She had screamed and turned around to climb the staircase. In no time Shyam reached her and got hold of her feet. Khushi fell on the staircase and Shyam used the opportunity to drag her down.
'Let me go. Arnavji will never spare you if you harm me.'
Shyam had laughed viciously in response.
'Arnav this Arnav that. I hate that man with every single cell in my body.'
He then grabbed her by her neck. 'He is a manipulative self centered man Khushiji. Why can't you remember how he treated you in the early days of your marriage? If you come away with me I will keep you like a princess.'
Khushi kicked his stomach with her legs. 'Get lost. I'm not coming with you. Not today. Not ever.'
Shyam had tried to pull her towards the door but Khushi made it very difficult for him by kicking him constantly.
For a moment Shyam had lost his hold on Khushi. Khushi used the opportunity to kick him on his groin.
She stood up and screamed at him, 'I hate you Shyam. You are a despicable piece of shit. I hate you!'
That was the final straw for Shyam. He searched for something in his pocket and took out a small bottle.
Khushi realised what it was. She started running as if her life was dependent on it.
But Shyam was a man possessed. He ran behind her and caught her once again at the base of the staircase. He tried to choke her by strangling her from behind and then he turned her around to face him.
'If you can't be mine, you can't be anyone else's.'
He opened the bottle and poured the contents on her face.
Khushi screamed in agony. She felt as if her face was burning in fire, and that there would be no respite. She tried to run around, her vision had been impacted. She tripped over something and fell down and before she lost her consciousness Khushi saw a vision of her mother cradling her and holding her close.
'Sorry Mr Raizada. There are extensive damages to her face, her eyes, to one of her ears, her hair and scalp. Once she has healed completely we can carry out some reconstructive surgery. She will definitely get better with time. But if you are expecting her to look like she did before the accident, that is unlikely to happen.'
'Inspector where did Shyam buy this acid from?
'I think he had purchased it from a local shop.'
'Jesus! But why are such harmful substances so easily available?'
'That's a joke. How is ten years even a punishment? Can't we ask for Life imprisonment?' Arnav asked his lawyer.
'We can Mr Raizada, but the accused may plead to insanity, in which case there is not a lot we can do.'
'f**k! How can people easily get away with such a serious crime?'
'Chote she needs you.'
'But Di she breaks down when she sees me. Why can't she understand that I love her. This makes no difference to me.'
'Chote our face is a big part of who we are. To have that completely disfigured, kills the confidence of the person. You need to be there for her, assure her that her face is just a part of her, something that will make no difference to you or your relationship with her. Tell her that her face doesn't define her, her personality does.'
'Di...how am I going to do this? Its so difficult to see Khushi like this. I can't stop blaming myself for not being there for her.'
'Don't blame yourself. If at all anything blame Shyam, and blame the laws of the land that seem to offer no protection for women.'
'What did I do to deserve this?' Khushi had managed to keep Payal's wallet during one of her visits. In spite of her repeated requests no one was willing to show her a mirror. What she saw shocked her. She knew her face was disfigured but when she saw her reflection she was completely shattered. She threw up immediately. She then dragged herself towards the open window deciding to end this trauma for good.
Arnav heard her anguished screams and rushed to her room. He saw Khushi walk towards the window.
He reached her in no time and pulled her back.
'What is wrong with you Khushi?'
'I want to die.. I want to die. Please let me go Arnav. This isn't me. The person on the mirror isn't me.'
'Shhh.. Khushi. You will be okay. I will make sure you will be okay.'
'Thats never going to happen Arnav. Please let me die.'
'Stop saying things like that.'
'Do you know what it feels like when your own reflection scares you. When all that is remaining of you is a mass of burnt skin. Please.'
'Remember how you always told me that I'm beautiful and now that is gone forever.'
'Khushi baby, you are beautiful.' Arnav replied affectionately.
'Stop lying to me. I hate you.' She started hitting his chest with her closed fists.
'You beauty radiates from the kind of person you are, from your kindness, from your joy and from your innocence. Not from your appearance.'
'Leave me Arnav, you deserve someone better, someone more beautiful.'
'Would you do that if you were in my place? Khushi I love you baby. And this makes no difference to me. I'm never leaving you. Get that into your head.'
Few months later.
'How are you feeling sweetheart?' Arnav hugged Khushi from behind.
'I'm good Arnav, much better today.'
'So are you liking it at the social group?' Khushi had begun to socialise with a group called 'Udaan,' that offered support to victims of acid throwing incidents.'
'Yes I'm. I was foolish when I said I wanted to die, But now I want to ensure that other women like me get the justice they deserve. I also want to make sure that no woman goes through what I did.'She then held Arnav's hands hesitantly.
'I'm fortunate to have you be my side Arnav. But when I spoke to the group I found out that most of the other victims are shunned even by their family for having a disfigured face, for no fault of theirs. I want to ensure that every bas***d out there like Shyam gets punished for their crime. I want to fight for justice not only for myself but also for all those women out there who never got theirs.'
'Whatever you decide to do, I will support you 100%.'
'I want to file a petition along with my friends from the group to bring about changes in how we treat such cases. We also want to ask the Government to ban the sale of acids in regular stores and also improve the quality of monetary and emotional support such victims get.'
'I know this will take a while, we will face many hardships. But I don't want one more woman to go through what I did.'
Arnav sought Khushi's hands and held it securely. 'I'm proud of you baby.'
Five years later
'Wow! Khushiji you look fabulous. This peach saree looks lovely on you.'
Khushi had nearly twenty reconstructive surgeries over the course of the last five years. Some of the surgeries were very painful especially the one for the nose. The time with the group had helped her gain her confidence back. She had realised that there was more to her life than just her face.
'Thanks di, Arnav designed this personally for the interview.'
'Good luck Khushiji. I'm sure you will rock the interview.'
Khushi had been invited be a popular new channel to talk about her petition. A final ruling was to be delivered the following day on her petition. Khushi and her friends from the group had been giving interviews to get some public momentum on the petition. They were hopeful of a positive verdict. She was initially apprehensive about appearing on television, but her friends had encouraged her. She had finally relented when she realised how important and far reaching such an interview would be in terms of reach and acceptance.
She had been nervous as she walked into the building , nervous as she was inside the studio, nervous as the microphone was fitted. Through it all Arnav remained by her side, only letting go when they were ready to record. Before he left her side, he kissed her forehead.
'Remember Khushi that I love you, I will be proud of you always.'
Khushi trumped the interview. She answered eloquently, spoke passionately about the issue, spoke vociferously when she felt the Government and society weren't doing enough for the victims and spoke confidently when the matter of petition came up. Arnav stood outside and watched the interview on the screen. He felt a strong sense of pride for Khushi. After everything that had happened to her, she had still managed to turn her life around. Not stopping with that she was now trying to help many other women like her. No matter what the rest of the society said, his wife was indeed a beautiful woman and he was lucky to share his life with her.
As the interview came to an end Khushi was asked to give her final thoughts.
'When a woman becomes a victim of an acid throwing incident, it not only scars her face but also her confidence and life forever. I was lucky to have such a loving family and a husband who never let me give up.' She closed her eyes to recollect how her family had been her pillar at every single step.
'When the Supreme Court passes the orders tomorrow, it will be a big step in the right direction. But beyond all of this please remember that a disfigured woman is still a woman not a piece of trashed meat or a commodity. We deserve to be loved if not respected and not shunned upon by the society. And to all those victims out there, never forget that you are not what your face says you are. Never give up on your life, no matter what others tell you.'
Every day is so wonderful
Then suddenly it's hard to breathe.
Now and then I get insecure
From all the pain, I'm so ashamed.
I am beautiful no matter what they say.
Words can't bring me down.
I am beautiful in every single way.
A/N- To the woman who never gave up, those who fought constantly to bring this change, You are truly an inspiration.
Inspired by the recent developments in this subject. The Supreme Court of India on July 18, 2013 in response to the petition filed by Laxmi an acid victim, gave the ruling to regulate the sale of acids and other corrosive substances. The Supreme Court had directed the crime to be made a non-bailable offence and had enhanced the compensation amount to be paid to the victims to Rs 3 lakh.
The ruling has been welcome all around to ban the over-the-counter sales of acid with a belief that the endeavor will limit the cases of rising attacks on the women.
To receive update notifications of my work, you can either follow my twitter handle @Naach_Basanti
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