“This was in the year 2004 in Ghaziabad when I was just 19 years old that an incident changed my life forever. We were an average family with minimum resources.
After my 10th grade, even though I wanted, I could not pursue further studies. I had to start working to contribute to the family financially. I had found a job in a beauty salon.
Soon I wanted to own a mobile phone to communicate with my family when required and it was a small desire. I went to two to three mobile stores to get my own connection. It so happened that I was denied owning a SIM card as I didn’t have an identity card. It was not just me, but at that time, my entire family didn’t own any identity proof at all.
I was unhappy that a simple thing like a mobile connection cannot be obtained. My neighbour, who got to know about this, suggested that he could get me a SIM connection and the mobile at a nominal price.
I agreed without realizing about anything that could harm me in the future. I was using the mobile for one week and everything was normal until one evening that a call came from a police station. I hadn’t done anything wrong in my entire life and I was petrified when I was speaking to the police official over phone. He told me that I was using a stolen phone and I will be held responsible. I was completely nervous and I told the official everything, as to who gave me the phone, his name and address and that I was not the culprit.
Before I could reach home, apparently the police had picked him up from his house.
Unfortunately, the very next day he was on bail and he came to me and threatened me of dire consequences if I didn’t apologize in front of his family and the entire neighbourhood.
I started avoiding him and my father would come to pick me up from the salon as the threats increased. But we didn’t want any trouble. Neither did I want to apologize for a crime I never committed.
But one evening my father couldn’t come and I decided to reach home on my own. I was just about 20 to 25 steps away from my home. Suddenly two men came on a motorcycle, the first one –the rider was wearing a helmet and I didn’t even see him. The second one, the pillion rider was the neighbour. He suddenly opened a huge can and poured acid from a can of 5 litres. At that moment I didn’t even realize what was that liquid. I was just screaming in pain. Those two managed to escape and I was on the road lying down in indescribable pain.
I clearly remember that when I was burning after the can of acid was poured on me, there were lot of people around me but they were probably too stunned to react. And they just kept staring. It was my mother, who rushed out from our house crying loudly. She reached out to me to embrace me.
The entire act was done based on a silly imagination of revenge to be taken as I had informed the police couple of days ago that this attacker was the real culprit who had stolen a mobile and sold it to me as a new mobile.
My mother has been a huge pillar of strength as far as I am concerned. Even now when I travel outside Ghaziabad she wants me to call her as soon as I reach the destination, wants a general update on the day’s activities and is concerned if I am alright.
She is a friend but we do have a lot of arguments but her being in my life has been of great importance for me to exist. I remember when I had scored extremely low marks in my 10th grade, my parents had told me that it is not a Kumbh Mela that will occur once in 12 years. Life moves on and one need not stop holed up in the past events.
My mum has been through a lot including financial constraints. My dad is no more but she keeps saying that I need to keep moving on in life. ‘ Don’t look back, keep walking forward’ this is a statement that often runs in my mind.
After the acid attack I have even tried to commit suicide but my family stood with me. The accused died due to a heart attack early in life, but now I am in a state where I am ready to greet life everyday with optimism.”
This is the story of acid attack fighter Soniya choudhury. This story is an effort by The Logical Indian in collaboration with Mums and Stories towards bringing stories of common people who inspire us.