The Spotlight

An inspiring narrative by an acid-attack survivor of minutes before she steps on the stage in front of the world.

“Squeezing the Rudraksha, the holy beads in one hand and biting the nails of the other while praying to all the gods for that spotlight to fall on me. But when the SPOTLIGHT fell, time froze around me, I felt dumb and blind for a moment and …. I was scared. Those bitter voices I would hear when I step onto the stage shunned my courage. At that moment, I wished the darkness around, would take me into a long, deep slumber. But I strived all my life for that spotlight but that day I hated it, why?” she said and slowly removed the scarf around her face while standing on the dice in front of thousands of people. And shouted loudly “Because my beauty was ruined”. The magnitude of her words silenced the grand auditorium. 

“I was born and raised in a sophisticated family.  My mother, a Bharat Ratna winner in classical music. Every time I type “man” in google, the first result would be “Manisha Koyer”, my mother. My father, an unbeatable comic artist, known as “the man for laughter” in the television. And my brother, a national-level swimmer. So, basically my family was always on that “SPOTLIGHT”. And that’s how my passion for it grew. I was good at speaking. I would speak endlessly. Sometimes they would fall for my words, sometimes for my emotions and sometimes they wouldn’t bear the depth of my words and accept my point” she said with a short laugh. The impact of her words started to delve into us. She continued, “I tried my best to talk in televisions, auditoriums, my college but alas, I wasn’t given a chance then. But the day I survived the acid-attack, I received my first invitation to participate in a program. A program that I strived for, a program that could change my life, a program to achieve my passion and a program to gain popularity, fame, and SPOTLIGHT. I was reluctant at first but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. The day arrived, my brother dropped me in the entrance, patted my shoulder and said encouragingly “We will wait to hear your story” and left me alone. People raced past me into the hall. The hall, it was a feast to eyes. After a tedious search, I found my seat in a corner. Holding the invitation in my hands, I saw the title “SPOTLIGHT on random” and the thought of it falling on me and the piercing gaze baffled me so I ran out of the room. I was breathing heavily. I wished to have someone by my side to cry out my heart. But that moment changed everything ’cause that’s when I met her. She was a reflection of me but of course, I wasn’t looking at a mirror. She was also an acid attack survivor. I was stupefied to see her. She was glowing with radiant beauty (well, her attitude was radiating beauty) She was fearless. She was in harmony with herself. She spoke so casually without fear of “piercing gaze”. When I asked her if she wasn’t feeling insecure because her beauty was ruined. She said, ” I still look beautiful”. “Inside?” I asked mockingly. “Well, the insides outside now. So I am beautiful both the ways”. She said without hesitation and left. Her words left me in deep thinking. And her strength made me walk back to the hall and this time I didn’t wait for THE SPOTLIGHT to fall on me. I climbed the stage and spoke my heart out without realizing the impact it would create. The moment I finished talking, the hall was so silent that I heard my heartbeat racing. But in a jiffy, the whole room was filled with the sounds of applause and happiness. And that’s how my journey started and now I am standing before you narrating my tale of overcoming fear. I used to think that my parents strived for that spotlight but my journey made me understand that their achievements brought them under that SPOTLIGHT. Thank you.” She left the room silently making a large impact on the audience.

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