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Archana-Acid Attack Survivor


Can you tell me about the incident Archana? When, where and how did it happen?

It happened in 2008, in my village in U.P. There was a guy who was living opposite my house. For four years he was after me. He never said anything but one day in 2008, he just suddenly came to my house and threw acid on my face. He had already consumed poison before he came over and after he flung the acid on my face, he died. I didn’t get to know anything, since I was unconscious. This happened at around four thirty in the afternoon. My father rushed me to a hospital in the city. It was only at around 10.30-11.00 at night that I regained consciousness. We never knew what to do. We never even filed an F.I.R.


What happened after that?

There was a lot of damage. My parents left everything and started staying in the hospital with me. Then we took a room on rent and continued with the treatment. I never returned to my village after the treatment.

"I wondered why anyone would want to marry a girl like me?"-Archana Thakur, acid attack fighter.

“I wondered why anyone would want to marry a girl like me?”-Archana Thakur, acid attack fighter.


What do you do over here?

I don’t work anywhere, I’m a housewife. I got married last May.


How did you meet your husband?

It was an arranged marriage. My parents got us married. He is my Aunt’s (Bua) daughter’s, brother-in-law. The families spoke and my husband’s brother came to see me. He agreed to the marriage but I was weary. I wanted my future husband to see me first. I wondered,”Why would a guy agree to marry a girl like me?” So he came over and he never asked me about anything. He just said I like the girl. But I was very suspicious. I said to my mother, “I don’t know what ulterior motives have lead him to agree to marry a girl like me.” I was very hesitant, so my parents agreed to wait. I just needed him to know that my body was burnt so that he wouldn’t say anything later. We started speaking to each other, over the phone. That’s when I informed him that my legs and my chest were burnt. He was ok with everything.


Are you happy after marriage?






The trouble with a space such as this – where words are sent into a void with the hope that one day when one ceases to exist, someone, somewhere will be able to make sense of a life that is meaningless – is the utter freedom that one enjoys and is also pained by. The control over the edit, of choosing to write about somethings and not about others is another form of masking…of hiding…of projecting.
The other day, I got a call at half one from my friend Ocean. For a nocturne in recovery, this use to be a normal occurence (a few years ago, the best time to call me was between 12 to 4a.m). We chatted about nothing in particular, just life and friendship. But it  was nice to be reminded of the girl I once was, not the heartless, cynic I’ve become. It’s during the course of that forty-fifty minute conversation that I realised what an incredibly fraudulent act this kind of writing is- where one never really directly writes about either hate, nor anger, where one  dances around the threshold of various emotions. If I won’t admit to it how will I ever let it go?  When did I turn into a gutless shit who is afraid to acknowledge and display the darkest parts of herself?
The answer to that came to me when I was driving back from work today…I don’t want to forgive  certain things and certain people that’s why I don’t mention them.
If I send them into cyberspace, I will be releasing them from the dark corners of my mind.
But God and Karma have been kind to me. So I have declared 2016, the year of forgiveness. Considering, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, was practically written for someone like me…it’s going to be a heart revamping experience.

Top of my forgiveness list is Moi. For all my errors in judgement over the past two decades, I have had all the time to think, reexamine and reevaluate. ‘You do the crime…you do the time’. I have done my time… so it’s time I drop that!

A far second would have to be Ms S. I don’t want to get into how she has interjected herself into my existence. Do I begrudge her that? I have not been particularly pleased with the marking of the territory  but no one can steal true friends . Meri buniyadoon mein he koi tedh thi. Apni diwaaron ko kyaa ilzaam doon. What has displeased me a great deal, is the invasion of my privacy. A month and a half ago I wrote ‘how not to hate each other’,  after I received a bunch of really nasty messages. First, stating that our mutual friend thinks I’m a bitch (mind you this is a polite abridged version) then asking for my opinion about him. Since, I react the opposite of how people expect me to, I didn’t reply to a single message, instead, I just blocked her. But you know how hurt is…it manifests into anger and vindictiveness. Every single day, since then I have wondered why anybody  would feel the need to instigate a person, who has nothing to do with their life? I have felt this growing resentment  towards a person, I don’t want to feel anything for! But” Anger is a double edged sword and it generally cuts the one who yields it the deepest.”  So I am letting it go.

  Last on my list for now, are all the people who disappeared, when the shit hit the ceiling. I have come to realise that all of us are creatures of convenience and it didn’t come out of any special malice towards me. It was just detrimental to their self interest. I’m sure each time someone is struck by something life altering like loss, poverty, sickness, divorce etc they experience the exact same thing. It’s a part of growing up. No biggie. Plus, it has been a blessing in disguise. It has left me open to various other people and experiences. Time to let that go too. Enough already…my vile, vindictive heart won’t be able to do more than this, for now.

We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident.We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident.  It is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think to be an organ and a blade. But learning to forgive our selves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human.We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn.” Nayyirah Waheed.


“I was forced to wander, having no one, forced by my nature to keep wandering because wandering was the only thing that I believed in, and the only thing that believed in me.” ― Roman Pyne.



A few days ago- ”Before coming to India I was visiting some friends in Rwanda. I’ve been here for three weeks and will be returning after another five. Are you travelling alone, too?”, asks Merry, a Canadian middle aged, single traveller who sits across from me at The Four Seasons Cafe, a tiny joint in McLeod Ganj. “No, I just managed to narrowly escape my buddies. We’ve been travelling like crazy- Chamba, Khajjiar, Dalhousie, we are here today and leaving for Dharamshala tomorrow. I’ve gone 72 hours with just two hours to myself and I was about to burst. While, they are out there visiting one more place, I needed some time out to have a coffee, chat with a Local…just be. I’m not really a traveller just a wanderer”

” It’s so cold in Quebec. For three months in a year, I take off. I prefer travelling alone!”, says Merry.

”’Me too! I travel to Kashmir for a month every year.” I’m super excited to meet a kindred spirit.

”Most people travel like they live…they have a check list. Been here, Check…Done That…Check! When I’m alone I don’t have to compromise, I do what I want and I get to meet so many interesting people, along the way. My friends always ask, if I feel lonely travelling alone. But I don’t! When you’re with other people you are in a bubble, in your own World. But when you’re alone, you become one with the surrounding, you’re more open, more approachable. Last evening I was sitting here, I met a very charming man from Punjab and then I met another traveller. Today, I’ve met you. Would that happen if I was with a companion?”, she asks.

” No, it wouldn’t! But I have a problem I’m trying to solve. I’m a loner. I need my space, to not put on my mask. I feel very uneasy with ‘the game’ and that’s becoming a hindrance. As an experiment, I’ve decided to travel with friends, people whose company I enjoy, at least once a year. It will teach me how to live with other people, something, as of now I have no capability of!”.

Right on cue, my phone starts to buzz. My travel companions are back and I have to meet them for dinner at a tiny eatery down the road. I gulp down my coffee and I leave Merry to polish off her Dumpling soup.


“Sometimes I feel as if I’m racing with my own shadow, Korogi says. But that’s one thing I’ll never be able to outrun. Nobody can shake off their own shadow.” ― Haruki Murakami

Today- ”You’re just jealous because I’m finally happy!”, he accuses me gleefully. ‘He’ is one of the most interesting characters in my life, someone who is capable of saying the nastiest things with great panache.  ‘Saare jhalle mere palle’, I yell into the phone as I make one last attempt to ask Shets to return to his life and work in Mumbai. As I’m the more sorted one, at least in this relationship, I play the Devil’s Advocate. He is one of the most talented men, I’ve had the privilege of knowing. A cinematographer by profession, a flutist by passion and a royal pain by God’s design. For the past few years, he’s been living out of a suitcase, wandering  the Northern side of the country. Currently, he temporarily resides in Leh, where he is taking Archery lessons. “You know running is not going to help. You’ll have to deal with your shit, eventually.” As the words slip out of my mouth, I feel like such a hypocrite. After all, I’m an award winning escapist. But he wriggles out of it, smoothly. ”I’ll go back in June.” I give up. “What can I do? I’m stuck with you!”

We have a strange connection, he and I. The first time he saw me, I was consuming opium at 7 a.m  during a shoot in Jaisalmer. It was love at first sight, for the nutcase. By the time he figured I wasn’t really a junkie (the crew was having a recommended dosage for staying awake after many sleepless nights), the damage was done. My aloofness surprisingly never put him off and right from day one, he figured out I only spoke, when I was spoken to.  His friends in an attempt to get us to talk pulled a prank and told me he was interested in my male assistant.  Long story short by the time we both figured out the truth about each other, we were already great friends. We’ve seen each other go through heartbreak and existential angst, irreparable loss and a setting in of our own brand of cynicism. The one man who gets away, with calling me ‘baby’ (how it infuriates me). The secret to the longevity of our friendship is that we’ve never been lovers… maybe not! Maybe the secret is that we are just similar beings, looking for someone to call home!

“You can run away from yourself so often, and so much, just because the broken pieces of you cut your feet too deeply if you stay around for too long. But then what if someone were to come along and pick up those pieces for you? Then you wouldn’t have to run away from yourself anymore. You could stop running. If someone sees you as something worth staying with— maybe you’ll stay with yourself, too.” ― C. JoyBell C.