Visage


VISAGE

She looked in the mirror 
And searched for signs of beauty 
So futile, she reminded herself 
When her strength was her vanity 

The attack had melted the veneer 
But her face was not her only identity 
Her spirit was recovering 
She refused to live like a faceless entity 

The world had turned its back 
Judging her for the blisters of vengeance 
But she had done no wrong 
Then why was she begging for acceptance? 

Her damaged eyesight didn’t impair her vision 
Her crinkled body was now thick-skinned 
Her scarred lips didn’t quiver anymore 
Her shriveled ears tuned out the din 

She will put on her game face 
And contour a winsome future 
She will pursue justice 
For she was not a Victim but a Victor.


Three Acid Attack Victors that inspired this poem:

Pic Source: Deccan Chronicle

Laxmi Aggarwal is a 29 year old Acid Attack Victor who today is a television host, winner of the International Women of Courage Award and a mother. She survived an acid attack at the tender age of 15 when she rejected the love of the then 32 year old friend of her brother.
“I believe that acid resides inside a man’s heart before it reaches his hands and gets thrown at someone like me. Two minutes ago someone said they loved you and it took no more than those two minutes for them to do something that does not even kill you but condemns you to a life worse than death?”
Pic Source: thestorypedia.com

Reshma Quereshi was 17 when 2 attackers poured acid all over her face as instructed by her sister’s estranged husband. Today, she has a YouTube channel where she gives makeup tutorials, at the same time spreading awareness against acid attacks. She has also walked the ramp at the New York Fashion Week and the Surat fashion show for Archana Kocchar.

"There is more acceptance of acid attack victims abroad -- however, perhaps less awareness. It's complex, but abroad, especially the West, acid attack survivors are given rehabilitation, emotional care, carry on to get married and lead normal lives. In countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq... a person is defined by that attack for life. "

"People still stare a lot and feel sorry for me. They shouldn't feel sorry for me, they should feel angry with me."

Pic Source: TheLogicalIndian

Monika Singh, is a UN Women Global Youth Champion and has not let the stigma stop her from pursuing her dream of making her mark in the fashion world. She also wants to help other victims turn victors through the Mahendra Singh Foundation, named after their late father which she co-founded with her brother Nikhil in 2015.

“Hit hard back. Prove that you are a leader of your own life and no one can take that from you.”

An Acid Attack is a crime of revenge. Its main purpose is to disfigure the victim’s face. The physical and consequential social scars make a victim feel lonely, broken, shamed and un-loved. Since most of these crimes are against women, it is up to us as a society to question the sense of entitlement that allows a man to easily cross the threshold of disappointment to vengeance. According to statistics, 300 acid attacks take place every year in India but by taking into account an estimate of the unreported cases, this number could be as high as 1000. Acid attacks are punishable with up to 10 years in prison but with acid available fairly easily, the crimes are not being contained. Organizations such as Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI), Chhanv - a support centre for acid attack survivors  and Make Love Not Scars are providing some much needed support to the victors.

The worse aspect of the crime is the impact on the victim’s confidence. This is something that we as a society are responsible for. Obsessed with beauty, we shame others who do not match the conventional standard. Here’s the request, next time you see someone who has already been scarred, let’s not add to their troubles.

Let’s not stare. Let’s not express pity. Let’s smile at them. Let’s send across some positive vibes their way. They deserve it.

Let’s also begin to appreciate beauty in a non-superficial way. This will ensure that the attackers will not have an incentive to carry out the attacks in the first place!



Comments

  1. Uplifting poem Ashwini and representative of the strength and resilience shown by the survivors of acid attacks in India. I have featured them in both my AtoZChallenges because they are truly worth our support.

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    1. I remember reading about your poems on Acid Attack victim survivors. But I had always decided to write about this...so went ahead. :) Thanks for your support.

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  2. Do check if you have configured your twitter handle with your website. It helps in better publicity

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    1. Well its configured but...it does not go out when you share the post and try as I might... I don't know how to edit that blessed thing! Thanks for the feedback though.

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  3. A very nicely written poem Ashwini. I really really liked the tips at the end of your post. Those are exactly the things that I feel. There is no need to make a person feel low when they are already feeling low. I wish for the whole humanity to be become humane. Salute all these brave women who inspire many more to get on with their lives.

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    1. Thanks Meena. These acid attack victors' stories are exceptional. Sometimes such small things affect me and they have taken such a huge thing in their stride. We as a society are a cause for so many issues. And the staring just gets to me. Thank you for your support.

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  4. Beautifully written. It is admirable how these strong women are able to take so much in their stride when we keep stressing about small things that happen to us. I agree, our society as a whole is not very accepting in general towards any differences or so-called flaws. The one things we should have learned from the West.

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    1. You're so right Neha. Wish we just learnt to be more accepting as a people. Thanks for your encouraging words.

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  5. Three beautiful stories of resilience. Like you said, it's shocking how easy it is to get hold of acid and destroy someone's life. Ten years is too short. Kudos to the girls for pulling themselves back up.

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  6. Beautiful Poem Ashwini and thank you for talking the time to honor these women and countless others who deserve to be looked in the eye by everyone and seen for who they are.

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    1. :) Thanks Kanika. I've always responded better to kindness than beauty. I don't know why the world doesn't get it.

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  7. I got goosebumps while reading this. No woman should go through what these 3 faced and many other women are facing. It's cruel!! Before I reached halfway, I knew the subject is Laxmi. I honestly didn't know about the other two. Thanks for sharing. Bold words, Ashwini. Take a bow!

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    1. I know what you're saying. Its horrendous. Not only because of the way the society looks at you afterwards, because as all the victors describe...at the point that the acid is thrown at you...you can't breathe...the pain is excruciating, your insides burn. All for usually having hurt a man's ego. 'Meri nahin to kis ki nahin'. They want to make life hell for their ex-lovers - that's the usual motivation. It angers me so much.
      We must share stories of victories, because these are victories of inner strength. They inspire all of us.
      Glad you liked the stories Surbhi.
      Thanks for the visit and the comment. :)

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  8. Wonderful one Ashwini, it conveys a 1000 words and its good that you choose to share the stories of these victors!

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    1. :) Thanks Akshata for your kind words. Wrote it from the heart. As its impossible to feel what an acid attack victor could feel...I tried to read their stories. I could never do just to exactly how they feel really, but tried to do my best and write about a poem from the POV of a Victor.
      These stories are so powerful. Of course there are so many that either succumbed to the injuries or are still fighting for justice. But these stories give all of us hope and strength.
      Thanks for your visit and sharing your thoughts.

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  9. I liked that the women are portrayed as victors. Its their attackers who are the victims - of the patriarchal mindset compounded by social sanction.

    Waiting at Bikaner House, Delhi

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    1. I think you worded that really well Seema. Very true. We need to get rid of terms such as 'being raped' and 'being attacked' which focus on the person attacked and shift focus on the attackers. '32 year old throws acid attack' will unfortunately not evoke reaction like '15 year old's face burnt by ex lover'. We live in a sensationalist society unfortunately. And we don't do anything beyond that either!!

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  10. Anonymous4:43 pm

    Beautiful poem indeed. can understand the plight of these women. Very powerful poem. loved the words "blisters of vengeance"
    Priya

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    1. :) Thanks Priya. Other than my family, you have been the one person who has shown her love and support to every single post of mine. And I can't thank you enough. For an amateur blogger like me, its been your kind words that's egged me on. I thank you with all my heart. And sorry for being so emotional. :)

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  11. I recently visited the Sheroes Hangout at Agra which is run by acid attack survivors. It's so wonderful to see them regain their lost self esteem and confidence. More power to them.
    Loved your expression, yes they are victors and not victims.

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    1. :) That's great. I'm glad for them.

      Thank you for your thoughts and appreciation. :) Wish you luck for the last leg of the challenge.

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  12. Beautiful poem, Ashwini! I am glad you wrote on these women who have suffered cruelly and are still going places. They don't let the badness of the world come in their way. They are resilient. Much to learn from them!

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    1. Hey Anshu thanks for your encouraging words. Yes it is a tough journey for Acid Attack victims and kudos to those who become victors. I think if we make up our minds to learn, we will learn from everything around us. But we don't do we?! Sigh!

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  13. Powerful poem and post. Where I'm from, we don't hear much about acid attacks but it's still important to bring it to the forefront. It reminds others that just because it doesn't happen near their community, doesn't mean it's not happening elsewhere in the world.

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    1. I have personally never come across any victim either. But just the idea of such evil intentions shakes me to my core. It's of course the result of the male entitlement. And the social stigma attached to a disfigured face in case of a girl/woman is unimaginable in our country. Like you rightly said, empathy is universal. Thank you for the visit and comment.

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