The Unyielding Spirit- Zakira Shaikh

The Unyielding Spirit

I was married at 17, to a guy who abused and sexually assaulted me. My two daughters never really had a father.

“Don’t bring your marital problems home,” my parents said when I fled to them. When all my hopes died, I demanded a separation. It shattered as I pleaded for him to behave like a human, and he couldn’t because he wasn’t one. He binded me with fear and dismay with his threats- “I’ll make you so ugly, you’ll curse me whenever you view the mirror,” It sent terror down my spine.

I would have killed myself with no ounce of regret, but I didn’t wish to condemn my children to hell under this man. Then my fears weaved themselves into reality. One night I felt a scorching burn on my face, which jerked me awake, shrieking. “Jee le Apni Zindagi,” he said, cackling and taking off as I screamed miserably. He later dared to call his attack ‘self-defense’. It took four months to heal from this nightmare. I couldn’t eat, speak, or even open my eyes. My one eye will forever be doomed in darkness, courtesy of my husband. I endured this barbaric phase with resilience, only to get shunned by society, even my own family. I had bills to pay all on my own.

Even when I offered to pay online, an NGO in Delhi promised me bright days, to help, to uplift. They minted money from my tragic story, sought donations under my banner, and later treated me like I did not exist. But one NGO in Mumbai answered my prayers— set up my children in a hostel and provided education. But I didn’t intend to overstay my welcome, so I took up the career of a makeup artist, which was tough because people refused my work, by my very sight.

But fate has balanced its cruelty by bestowing me benevolent people like Bijal Gada. She’s an international makeup artist who cheered me on and mentored me free of charge. Anushree Kulkarni, who writes for Women’s web, has always extended her hand, financially and personally, whose company I cherish dearly.

These events have spun me positively. Only the people with unyielding spirits will conquer the impossible.

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