She didn’t want the bandages to get prominence during the shoot. ‘‘I don’t want this to be the face of me!’, stated Monica. For someone who has undergone more than forty surgeries, the pain (bandages) is what she would want to show the world, I would assume. But Monica Singh, is not a regular girl. She’s a woman who has paid the price of hurting the male ego by politely rejecting a friend’s proposal.
Unrequited love drove the friend to throw a bucketful of acid on the face he so admired; leaving Monica with 75% burns on her body. She could only get through the terrible pain of having her skin peeled off without anesthesia because of her father’s love.
A decade later, Monica is still trying to pick up the pieces but with great aplomb. ”When I die I’m going to ask God why he did this to me? He better have an answer ready or ‘somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad”’, she bursts in peals of laughter as she quips, Russell Peter’s famous line. A graduate of National Institute Of Fashion Technology, she’s all set to go to Parson’s for an Associate Program and Make Love Not Scars, is helping her achieve that by collecting funds for her.
Here are excerpts from our conversation.
I’m not going to start by questioning you about the incident. Rather, I want to find out from you -what have the past ten years been like?
It’s not been hard, fighting all the time, struggling all the time. It seemed like everyday, I was going to war. I never felt myself normal. I never went anywhere without makeup. Of course, I had to loose a lot… compromise a lot. I had to accept somewhere that this is who I am and had to start loving myself as quickly as possible, so that people could start loving me as I was. I started believing that if I was happy and I loved and accepted myself, then people would accept me and love me back. I customized myself to believe that if people were staring at me, I would tell myself that it was because I was looking pretty.
What strikes me about you is how different you are from most people. Not because of the way you look or due to what has happened to you. But because of you’re,’I’m not a victim’ attitude. Where does that come from?
That’s there because I’m blessed. I have had the unflinching support of my family and friends. My mother understands my pain. But other than that it’s also because I never stopped dreaming. Just because something terrible happens to you doesn’t mean you put yourself in a box. One has to continue to dream. Despite, what happened I kept setting goals and I kept trying to achieve them. I continued studying and working. This helped me to overcome my sorrows about being an acid attack victim. I don’t think that I’m a victim anymore- I’m talking like a normal girl; I’m walking like a normal girl. I’m seeing things and doing things, so I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor! My outside may be ruined but my inner strength is there to get me through it.
How has the incident changed your relationship with men? Are you a bit weary?
I don’t trust easily, now. I don’t judge people but I’m a bit weary after the incident. But there are good people around and I don’t want to forgo them because I’m a little bit bitter. What has happened is in my past, I’m trying to live in the present and focus on my future. The only way I can avenge what happened is by building a beautiful life for myself- not by hurting the person who hurt me or by punishing other men for it. It’s difficult but I have to remember that the person who nursed me back to health was a man (my father-he passed away last year) and the person who stands by me is also a man (my brother).
© Text and Photo by Saadiya Kochar.
Read Further. Shirin Hasrat talks about Ria, the founder of Make Love Not Scars.
She was a study in contradictions.For those who looked at her superficially she was a rebel without a cause, who broke every rule in the book and whom the school authorities had written off as a trouble maker.For those who cared to look below the surface, here was a sensitive, vulnerable young girl, lost in the maze of teenage angst, looking for an anchor. A bleeding heart looking for love in a world too busy to care.
I connected with her initially because we shared the same birth date, and later because in her I saw reflected my own adolescence….lost, floundering, seeking stability.Today that rebel without a cause is spearheading a very worth cause, ” Make Love not Scars.” This is a support group for acid attack victims who are not only scarred physically, but for those who are at the receiving end of a great deal of emotional trauma, shunned by those they have loved and trusted.I am immensely proud of this enterprising young lady, and I would like to request my peers not to be judgmental of this generation who may be sporting tattoos or Mohawk hair do’s but have their heart in the right place.
This interview was made possible because of our guest blogger Shirin. To know more about her click on the link below. The search for guest bloggers is on. Volunteer.