Jusmi is an English teacher. Obtained her Masters in English literature from Gauhati University India shares an immense love for writing.
It’s been almost four years now but still, Waheeda’s past refused to leave her. It keeps haunting her every minute and second of life. Once a beautiful girl it was hard for her to see herself in the mirror after the acid attack. She screamed in pain and agony. Her mental pain was screaming much louder than her physical one.
Gathering courage when she went back to college it was all the more torturous to see young girls of her age dressing up beautifully and coming to the college. While she with her burnt face and hands tried every possible way to cover it from the view of others lest they might get scared and run away. It was more than hell what she was going through from the past four years of her life. But, she was lucky enough to get a job at a medical shop right after completing her studies.
She wanted to be a doctor as a small kid but the dreams washed away as her poor parents were somehow managing the expense of her school. Now, with so much of the money spent on her treatment and after that terrible incident it was utmost impossible for her to pursue her dream. So, she let it go.
Often at nights, she drenched her pillows thinking what had she done wrong to deserve this? All she had done was just to save her friend Nasreen from ragging. Who knew those two boys would come in a bike throw some acid and fled away destroying her life forever. At first all she felt was burning hot near her face, chest and arms. She couldn’t understand what was going on. One moment she saw a few people rushing to help her and the next moment she was in an ambulance. When she finally regained her consciousness she was at the hospital bed with a lot of pain. She could see her helpless parents standing and weeping by her side.
Now, four years have passed and she had learned to live with her pain and injuries mostly mental. They had also lodged a case against her abusers. But, due to lack of financial aids the case couldn’t survive for long in the court. The lawyers that they approached were mostly disinterested or didn’t want to take the case as Waheeda and her family couldn’t pay the hefty fees demanded by them.
Waheeda was in her train of thoughts when she was suddenly woken up by a lady’s voice. She was asking for a bottle of sanitizer and a few tablets for a headache. Waheeda without looking at her face hurried to the selves and brought the things for the lady. When the lady took out the money to hand it over to her that’s when she noticed it was none other than the famous lawyer Shruti Mazumdar who had also refused to take her case a few years back.
Handling the money when she looked at Waheeda she stopped for a few minutes and said, “ Aren’t you Waheeda Aslan? “ Waheeda nodded and said, “ Yes, ma’am I am. How are you ?” Shruti replied, “ I am fine. How are you doing and what about your case?” Waheeda sighed, smiled and said, “ I am living ma’am. And I lost the case.” Shruti pursed her lips lowered her eyes and said, “ I am so sorry to ask you all this. Anyways take care. I will take your leave now. See you”. Just as she was about to leave Waheeda said, “ Yes, ma’am you to take care. Nice meeting you. But, ma’am please don’t forget to wear your mask next time before you visit any shop. It’s really dangerous”. Shruti looked annoyed and said, “ Yeah, yeah I know thanks for reminding. But, I have not forgotten. Its just that I don’t like to wear it. It’s so hot and covering my face makes me breathless. That damn virus !!” Saying so just as she was about to go she looked back at Waheeda and said, “ I am so sorry. Now, I understand how you must be feeling covering your face all these years whether it’s hot or cold. I understand what you must be going through all these years Waheeda”. Waheed replied sadly, “ It’s ok maam. I have started living with it. I have started living with my half burnt face and it’s scars, I have started adjusting with people’s glances. You know ma’am girls of my age buy dresses but I buy scarves and dupattas so that I can cover my face at least with my choice of cloth. Now, when everyone is forced to cover their face I feel equal with everybody. At least no one stares at me with those hateful glances. After all the virus isn’t that bad ma’am at least for me”. They both smiled and Shruti said, “ Yes, we humans are worst than the virus or rather we are the virus that kills and destroys our own people. Anyways, what are you doing tomorrow?” Waheeda said, “ I am free ma’am”. Shruti replied, “ Ok, come to my office at ten in the morning we will file a case in the Supreme Court and this time I will make sure the culprits are behind the bars. And after that we have to take admission in the nursing course. My husband’s hospital needs good nurses. And I know you will be a wonderful nurse. So, don’t be late tomorrow I will wait for you. See you”.
Waheeda was in tears she held Shruti’s hand in hers and said, “ I will come maam. And as I already said the virus is not that bad after all “.