Being Reshma: The Extraordinary Story of an Acid-Attack Survivor who Took the World by Storm by Reshma Qureshi with Tania Singh

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author:

Reshma Qureshi is an Indian model, vlogger, and anti-acid activist. She is the face of Make Love Not Scars, an Indian non-profit organization based in New Delhi founded by Ria Sharma. It assists with the complete rehabilitation of acid attack survivors, including providing survivors with financial, legal and educational help. As of November 6th, 2016, the organization had helped approximately 70 survivors across India.

Her foray into modeling in the United States came when she walked the catwalk for Archana Kochhar at the 2016 New York Fashion Week. This memoir was written by Reshma with the help of Tania Singh who is the CEO of Make Love Not Scars as Reshma is not proficient in English.

Publication Year: 2018

Review:

‘Being Reshma’ is an incredibly powerful and eye-opening account of the life of Reshma Qureshi. I did not know about Reshma before I came across this book but I’m glad I got to read her story. It was really hard for me to get through this book as it was heart-wrenching but it was also beautiful and inspiring.

“In our world, where the future is unreservedly considered to be as grim as the past (if not more), we obsessively linger over the happier times.” 

Reshma was born and raised in a chawl in Mumbai where she lived with her parents and four siblings. Reshma, the youngest of the five children, was quirky and adventurous, a bit of a trouble-maker who had modest dreams of her own.

Due to personal and financial issues, she had to move to Mau Aima, a small village in Uttar Pradesh with her sisters and mother. Her sister got married but came back home due to her mistreatment. Reshma was attacked as a means to get back at her sister.

This is where Reshma’s life changed forever. She explained in painful detail all the difficulties she had to face while getting treated after the incident. The refusal of people to offer help, apathetic policeman, poor facilities, and victim-blaming society made her life extremely difficult.

But, she also came across some amazing people who showed her kindness. With the aid of politicians, philanthropists, and numerous other helpful people, she was able to get treated in a good hospital and underwent numerous surgeries on her face.

Through Ria Singh, she was introduced to Make Love Not Scars. She became the face of #EndAcidSale campaign that went viral and got a massive success. She started speaking up, giving interviews on the news channels and in 2016, she became the first acid-attack survivor to walk the ramp of New York fashion show.

“All I did was survive and that made all the difference.” 

The memoir was a detailed, first-hand account of a survivor that I had never read before. I’m used to hearing stories in the news but this was my first time knowing it from the actual person. The first half of the book is about her life before the incident and the next half is about her life after it.

I was extremely appalled and enraged at the way things turned out for her. The unfairness and helplessness of her position and the way she was treated was jarring. The crimes that are committed against women are atrocious and they keep happening all the time. 

I’m glad that NGO’s like MLNS exist and they are putting a lot of efforts to help the survivors. I wish for a time when women are not seen as a property but as a living, breathing human beings who have a right to exist and have freedom and they’re respected for their choices. I hope the criminals receive strict punishment for their despicable crimes.

“I was grotesque, even for hospital standards. Where did I belong if not there? I wanted to ask, but I hadn’t spoken in weeks, even though my mind was bleeding out words that were clotting in my mouth.”

I was struck by Reshma’s willpower and the way she refused to give in to the circumstances. She worked through her trauma and accepted her fate and instead of hiding, she took ownership of her life and managed to turn her situation into something positive. 

This story is not just about pain but it’s about conquering that pain and finding the inner voice to speak out about things that matter the most. It’s about acceptance and recognizing that there’s something bigger to look forward to and work for. 

Reshma is an incredible and inspiring woman; she’s all the more beautiful because she’s a survivor and a fighter. I believe her voice and her story should be heard. I highly recommend reading this book.

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I'm an introvert, agnostic-atheist, insatiable reader, fitness enthusiast, daydreamer, music-lover, cat-adorer, eternal optimist with a touch of cynicism, curious soul, annoying preacher, OCD for cleanliness with a teeny affinity for messiness!

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