The remarkable story of 26-year-old Laxmi is about how she has transitioned into one from her ‘victim’ status by braving the pain of an acid attack with immense grit, determination, and courage.
It was back in 2005 when Laxmi, who was just 16 then, was attacked with acid while she waited at a bus stop in New Delhi’s busy Khan Market, disfiguring her permanently.
Her crime? She had rejected advances by a man who was more than twice her age.
While the incident could have devastated anyone, Laxmi took the situation head on and became a social activist who now runs the ‘Stop Acid Attack Campaign’ and also has a Cafe Sheroes Hangout in Agra which works for the welfare of acid attack victims.
For somebody who has been met with stares and hostility, whenever she appeared in public, finding love seemed to be a hopeless task. But it soon ended when she met Aloke Dixit, 28, with whom she now runs the Stop Acid Attack Campaign.
Laxmi, who goes by a single name, recently announced that she’s the mother of a seven-month-old daughter Pihu. Like her mother, Pihu too will not bear a surname.
“Pihu does not have a surname, neither would she have one. We encountered a few problems while making the birth certificate but ultimately it has the name of both the mother and father because both of us are together.”
While it has already been seven months since Pihu was born, the couple had initially had decided not to introduce their child to public as for the first few months the child needed some time and they needed some time for themselves.
Talking about the decision, Dixit said:
“For the initial 6 to 7 months we needed time for the baby and also for us….Laxmi had also gone through a lot of tragedies. She had lost her father and her younger brother very recently. So we did not want people to bombard her with questions and that’s why we kept quiet.”
Dixit also revealed that even though they now have a baby together the duo don’t intend to marry and would continue with their relationship like earlier as “two people did not need a certificate to remain together in the society.”
Pihu accompanies her mother everywhere and spends most of her time at the NGO Chaanv, the office of the Stop Acid Attack.
Last year, US First Lady Michelle Obama felicitated Laxmi after she won the International Women of Courage Award for successfully leading the campaign against acid attacks on women in India.
Obama and the large crowd at the State Department auditorium was moved and touched when Laxmi recited a poem recounting her experience.
“You haven’t thrown acid on my face; you threw it on my dreams. You didn’t have love in your heart; you had acid in it,” Laxmi recited soon after receiving the prestigious award along with several other women from different parts of the world including Afghanistan and Fiji.
The original poem was in Hindi.
Observing that she always walks away feeling inspired by these women, determined to reflect their courage in her own life, Obama said she is not alone in that feeling because every day with every life they touch and every spirit they raise, these women are creating ripples that stretch across the globe.