Sitara looked at the mirror. The function was about to start in a couple of hours and she had to reach the venue before that. She had won the “Budding Youth Author of the Year”- a prestigious annual writing contest at the national level.
“Maa, I am going to wear this white lace salwar kameez that you and Baba had gifted me an year back, for Diwali. I think these silver jhumkas would look good with it, although I don’t think I would be needing two of them now.” she laughed.
Her mother smiled, moist eyed. Sitara got ready and walked upto her mother “Maa, wish me luck. It is my first felicitation function as an author.” Her mother hugged her and blessed her.
Sitara reached the venue and walked upto the stage when her name was called out. There was a stunned silence amongst the audience.
Sitara smiled and started her speech –
“Thank you for having me here and recognizing my work. The reaction that many of you gave, was expected. Yes, I am an acid attack survivor. Till a couple of years back, my life was as normal as any of you out there. I was a bright student who was in her final year of school. I was studious and very fond of literature. I was trying for a scholarship at a city college. A guy from my village harassed me with his advances and when I spurned him, his broken ego led him to attack me, which left the left side of my face scalded. I lost my vision and hearing partially. It also put a temporary roadblock on all my dreams, as I struggled to come to terms with what had happened. It was a dark period for me and my family, as it left us battered emotionally.
The recovery process was long-drawn and painful, both physically and mentally. More than my physical injuries, my emotional scars had to heal.
But thanks to the loving support and care of my parents and family, I was able to heal- slowly, yet steadily. It encouraged me to slowly reconstruct my life and pursue my dreams all over again. Writing was my all-time passion and I came back to it again. Hope is a powerful medicine. I poured my heart out in my anthology of poems titled–“The Journey of Hope” which won the prize in this contest. This is my stepping stone to achieving my dreams and reclaiming my confidence.
My journey made me realize that the fire that burns within me, to achieve my goals and reclaim my life, is much more powerful than the burns that scalded my face. I stand before you as a proud survivor.
Thank you for recognizing my work, and supporting me in my own personal journey of hope.”
Sitara ended her speech and the audience broke into thunderous applause.
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