..the girls made me laugh! They were so lively, so full of energy. So excited at their first Mumbai trip. It was like making friends with any other girl. When we clicked pictures, they were posing like any other girls. They wanted pictures with different combinations, with different backgrounds, with different side profiles..
Friday, 7 June 2013
I joined Stop Acid Attacks campaign when I read about Tuba Tabassum. I was upset. Very upset.
Like most urban girls, I used to live in my narrow, limited shell. I was aware about acid attacks but I had this notion that plastic surgery sorts it all out. I wasn’t aware that these surgeries last years and even after that the face is not the same ever again. I wasn’t aware that most survivors do not have access to corrective surgeries, forget cosmetic surgeries.
I kept on imagining for days, nights about Tuba. What should I tell her to console her?
Then I met survivors (now my friends)- Shaina, Rupa, Archana and Laxmi.
I had imagined that when I meet them I would have a sombre, serious expression. Perhaps I would avoid making eye contact to not make them feel uncomfortable, perhaps I would mumble something about how God is watching everything all the time.
But the girls made me laugh! They were so lively, so full of energy. So excited at their first Mumbai trip. It was like making friends with any other girl. When we clicked pictures, they were posing like any other girls. They wanted pictures with different combinations, with different backgrounds, with different side profiles! They wanted the pictures on facebook. They wanted to ‘like’ and ‘comment’. I now realize they didn’t get nervous when clicking pictures because they know photography is about memories, not personal vanity.
I realized that they didn’t lack anything - I did. I had a presumption that just because their faces were ruined due to a barbaric, cowardly act made them socially different from me. How often we girls make life difficult for ourselves. We put so much weightage on looks, clothes, figure, presentation and the ‘feel good’ factor. We seek so much external validation.
I observed that the girls really do wish to live a perfectly normal life. But somewhere we, as a society hamper it because we attach so many premiums to the “exterior”. We, by our judging mechanism, make them miserable. When the truth is that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Why should there be any form of repulsion or a statutory warning saying that the pictures are gory when we see their images or documentaries! We should rather revolt at ourselves for having such ideas.
I learnt one thing that day before telling Tuba anything I need to tell myself something first. I am not going to judge or categorize people based on their face, body shape, skin colour, dressing style or rather any parameter. This subtle subconscious evaluation process needs to stop. It needs to stop because with it inside me- I have deeper wound on my mind than the temporary scars on my friends.
Acid attack survivors don’t wear a mask. We do.
P.S- When bidding goodbye, the girls hugged me and kissed my hands. That was the most beautiful thing a human has ever done to me.