- May 8, 2010
"The face you burned is the face I love ...I am alive and flourishing". These words are by Laxmi, an acid attack survivor who is in the US to receive the International Women of Courage award. She has left the Americans impressed with her passion and guts.
What's more encouraging is that Laxmi has got a springboard for a career in television, her childhood dream. She is about to enter a new, liberating phase in her life by acting as an anchor with a news channel. She will host an audience-based show which will be aired weekly, and has successfully shot three episodes.
"As a teenager she would look into the mirror for hours and say she wanted to come on TV. However, her dream was shattered when a man threw acid on her face at Khan Market in 2005. It took years for her to come out of the shadow and face the world. She did that bravely, but the dream had virtually got buried," says her mother.
In December last year she got an offer from a private news channel. At first it seemed a crude joke, for she could not believe that somebody would want a woman with a scarred face to present news.
"She was in tears when she got to know that her employer was in earnest. She said that she had thought it impossible to even think of this career. I assured her that she could do it and asked her to take the offer if she was mentally and physically prepared for it," said a family member. When Laxmi rose to the challenge, she knew it was a tough road ahead. She underwent just one week of training before shooting for her first episode. She trained for about five hours daily and learnt how to carry herself before the camera, pose questions and take the show forward.
"She was trembling before the first shoot. I convinced her she was equal to it. And believe me, it was a cakewalk for her. She did it well," a colleague said.
Life is slowly getting better for Laxmi, who has also been praised by the US first lady Michelle Obama. She is in a live-in relationship with an acid attack activist, and hopes for a bright future. "We have decided not to get married as we don't believe in the institution of marriage. I respect the courage she has shown in fighting her way till here. I also thank her employers for giving her this opportunity," says Alok Dixit,her partner.
Laxmi has also written a poem describing her ordeal, and goes on to narrate how the man who threw acid at her was as brutal as the acid itself. She concludes by talking of how she has weathered her ordeal and begun a prosperous life.
What a heart warming story of a girl who would have remained a nameless victim in her home country India. People are quick to criticise the US for perceived slights to their national honour but where else would a girl go from a helpless victim to a TV host?