“I love life. I love life. I don’t want to take my life. What I want is justice and peace,”. “I am protesting against AFSPA. If AFSPA is repealed I will take food again.”
This is what Ms. Sharmila replied to the judge when asked for her reasons to abet suicide.
We are today talking about a lady with exceptional grit, power and resilience, she is Irom Chanu Sharmial. She’s a social activist and fighter, hailing from Manipur, who has been on a hunger strike for an unbelievable thirteen long years. Not a normal feat! She has even broken Gandhi’s record of fasting and continues to do so as we speak. The irony of the matter is that the media has totally been unfair in the coverage of her ordeal and fight for justice. The reports cover her every year, when she is released for a day, only to be arrested again the next day. Since, our laws forbid the custody of an individual trying to kill himself for more than year. Her life has become confined to a room in the main state hospital in Imphal for the last 13 years. The governmentis feeding her a liquid enriched with essential nutrients through her nose after she refused force feeding. She hasn’t had a bite or drank a sip of water in 13 years. Unbelievable but true!
Let’s read on more about this lady with a gut of steel and a will power that is unbeatable.
13. The longest serving human on fast
The lady has entered the Ripleys’s odditorium for the longest surviving human being on a fast. They have clubbed her as a lady with exceptional upper an dinner body strength.
12. The family saga
Sharmila is the youngest in a family of nine siblings and had a pretty lonely childhood. She was breast fed by her neighbor and her brother did their housework in return for it. Irom Singhajit, till today is her closet friend, confidante and pillar of support.
11. Serving people in need
Sharmila had a soft corner for the lesser privileged from a very young age. Even at a very young age she used to raise chickens and sell their eggs. She donated the money to a local school for the blind.
10. Practical knowledge over books
She was never very keen on studies as she never saw any application of the bookish knowledge in the real practical life. She has completed her education till class 12.
9. Standing against odds
Even while working for a local newspaper she was always attracted to causes for justice and empowerment of civilians in Manipur. She would often join rallies and protests.
8. Her grandmother, her role model
She owes her resilience and persistence to her grandmother who died at an age of 105 in 2008. Although she had not met her granddaughter for over 7 years.
7. Away from mother
Since she started the fast, her mother has not come to see her even once, although she stays close to the hospital.
6. Her appearance since 2000
Irom Sharmila has not combed her hair since 2000 and cleans her teeth with a dry piece of cotton, in order to stick to her no food and no water stand.
5. Before commencing fast
As young girl Sharmila used to relish fresh vegetables and pastries. Before she started the fast, she actually bought two packets of her favorite delicacies and ate them to her hearts content.
4. Following her own choices
In her younger days,Irom Sahrmial used to ride a bike and did not fall in the common stereotypes of girls at all. She is also a vegetarian, which isa surprise as her family is totally non vegetarian.
3. Her world within a tiny room
In her hospital room you will find gifts from all over the world. A statue of Meera Bai, a wind chime and an Assamese gamcha can be seen there. She also has ahuge selection of all kinds of books.
2. The heart of the Iron Lady
In an interview with a journalist she had once mentioned that she is in love with Desmond Coutinho, a Britisher based in Kerala. They often shareletters and plan to get together once she breaks her fast.
1. Accolades for persistent struggle
She has been awarded multiple times for her selfless fight for justice. She was awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. In 2009, the first Mayillama Award of the Mayilamma Foundation “for achievement of her nonviolent struggle in Manipur. And also with the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, which came with a cash award of 5,100,000 rupees.