The world shut its doors on me, but I built my own path!

Written by: Anam Mirajkar

Life threw one challenge after another at Neehari, but she stood strong and fought them.

“Marriage was a harsh reality check for me. 2 weeks in, my husband said things like, ‘You’re pretty… How come you’ve never had a boyfriend?’ ‘Why are you so inexperienced in bed?’ It was shocking and humiliating.

Amma said, ‘He’s a man. Having a kid will change things. Be patient.’ But things kept getting worse. Once, he gave me a ₹100-note saying, ‘This is for your performance last night.’ He’d often come home with stories about his girlfriends.

By then, I was too ashamed to say anything to my parents but I moved back home. Amma and Appa were worried—unaware of the reason, they’d constantly ask me to reconcile. And my husband, too, would call me and say, ‘Come home or find another girl for me.’ I just wanted him out of my life.

But then, I found out I was pregnant. As happy as I was to be a mother, I was also horrified that I’d be bound to him forever. And I was scared of having a daughter—I didn’t want her to be treated like me. I felt helpless. In my mind, there was only one solution—only one way out… To end my life.

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So I wrote a letter to my unborn child, explaining my helplessness and begging for their forgiveness. And then, I tried to set myself on fire. After 49 failed attempts at lighting the match, I succeeded in the 50th one. But my family saved me—Appa poured a bucket of water on me and then, they took me to a hospital. I survived with 55% burns on my face and body. But that wasn’t the reason my world shattered when I opened my eyes… It was because I’d lost my child.

I felt so guilty; I wanted to block out the world. And the world wanted the same thing. I spent months hiding behind scarves, and if it did slip out of my face, people would turn their faces away. I started looking for work but people would simply say ‘sorry’ and I knew why.

But I knew my survival wasn’t a coincidence. I wanted to create a change in the lives of people who, like me, had suffered, not just with their lives but also with their skin. My plastic surgery made me realize how many people didn’t even have what I did– their family’s support.

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It was then that I met someone in my village who pushed me to get into the medical sector. For that, I moved to Hyderbabad to assist a doctor. There, each time a comment on my appearance was passed, my resolve to work harder for the cause strengthened. Within a year, I’d made enough contacts in the sector. And then, with the support of my parents, I started Burn Survivor Mission Saviour Trust—an initiative to provide free plastic surgeries to people.

That was 10 years ago… And till now, we’ve provided over 950 counseling sessions and free plastic surgeries to almost 140 people across India. Over the years, I’ve met so many people, from kids to older people who have gone through so much. They remind me that, each time people push me down, I can get back up stronger. And I wouldn’t change a thing—because the world might have shut their doors on me because of my scars, but I built my own path!”

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Being India’s biggest storytelling platform, Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Today, we bring you this inspiring story of a woman who has fought every challenge that came her way, to emerge stronger. If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of a country with billion beating hearts!

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