This is the story of a mother who, inspite of having a really difficult life, didn’t let the world break her soul and spirit.
Zakira was married pretty young and faced one of the most difficult challenges a woman can endure – Acid Attack – and that too by her own husband. But, rather than being broken by the hardships that came, she displayed true grit and emerged as a winner.
While recalling her life challenges, Zakira shared with HoB:
“I got married when I was 17 years old, to someone who was 24. My husband and I didn’t get along from day one — so I knew I had to take care of myself.
I started a small business of selling garments from home and made enough for the house, but that irked my husband.“
But her challenges were not limited to earning for herself and family. Zakira shared how her own parents were not supportive of her and left her alone to struggle:
“Although he was a rickshaw driver, he wouldn’t earn. He’d just extort money from people, bring random men home and drank late into the night. And he’d threaten to kill me if I ever came in his way. Once when we got into an argument, he took a knife and slashed my face. I was in a horrible state.
But my mother refused to let me come home, because my sisters wouldn’t be able to marry otherwise.”
People say that a kid brings peace to life, but for Zakira things became even worse when she became a mother.
“Just a few months later, I gave birth to my first baby girl. Once, when the baby was crying a lot, he got so annoyed — he dumped her into a garbage bag and was going to throw her away. I threatened to call the police, and that’s when he stopped.
After my second daughter was born, his behaviour became worse. He’d beat me and my daughters both.”
Things just kept getting worse and reached a breaking point.
“One night, he told me, ‘You have so much attitude because you earn money, one day I’ll make sure you’re in a state where you’re ashamed to step out’.
I went to my mother’s house, asking her to save me. But she told me not to react and go back home. So with nowhere to go — I went back to him.
That night, while I was sleeping, he threw acid on my face.
I woke up feeling like I was on fire, my skin was melting and I was half dead. The neighbours heard my painful screams, so they came and rushed me to the hospital. But the damage was done.”
Even in the darkest of times, no one from her family came forward to help her.
“I spent 4 months in the hospital, nobody from my family came to help me.
They didn’t want anyone who looked like me, around them. Thankfully that’s when Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation found me and funded my treatment.
I filed a police complaint and my husband was thrown in jail, but each day I’d spend wanting to kill myself. My own daughters didn’t want to come to me, people who I knew in the locality refused to talk to me or even give me a place to stay — only because of how terrible I looked.
When I was discharged from the hospital, the NGO helped me send my kids to a boarding school, because I couldn’t afford to keep them.
My husband and my family did what they wanted to do- ruin my life and have nothing to do with me.”
While Zakira has faced a tough life where she didn’t have support from her own family, this hasn’t broken her soul rather has only made her a better fighter.
“But one thing they haven’t been able to do, is break my morale. I can’t step out without wearing a scarf, I’m not getting a job or a place to stay, I’m fighting this battle all alone. But this is not the end for me.
I always wanted to make it big in life, and I’m still going to do that — only now,
I’ll always have my scars reminding me… not to give up.”
At I For Her, we salute the brave souls and strong women like Zakira who inspire the entire community.
Despite all her struggles, Zakira chose to stand tall and become stronger with every hurdle. Her life story is definitely an inspiration to many of us, who are battling our own fights!