Acid-Attack Survivor Dreams of Going to Parsons, NY
By Indumathy Sukanya | Published: 02nd August 2014 08:24 AM |
BANGALORE: Nineteen-year-old Monica Singh was tall, gorgeous and had it in her to become a top-notch model. A student at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, she decided to visit her parents in Lucknow during her vacation. Little did she know that her life was about to change forever.
She was driving when she got a phone call. A friend of hers asked her to roll down the window so that he could talk to her, and when she did, he threw acid on her. "I was blindsided. I thought it was hot coffee," Monica says, reliving the horror.
What is shocking is that the attacker had been her friend for six years. "He had a crush on me and asked me to marry him. I had turned him down, because I had big dreams in life and getting married at 19 wasn't one of them," she says. The attacker had called her on the pretext of wanting to apologise to her.
Monica's father spent every last penny on her surgeries, hoping to give her a new face and a new life. "He told me that he would support me for as long as he is alive if I chose to stay at home. I asked him 'why on earth would I want to stay at home?' And he said that is exactly what he wanted to hear from me," she says.
Today, a decade and 43 surgeries later, Monica wants a fresh start. She has been accepted into Parsons The New School for Design in New York and she is crowd-funding her tuition fee of $50,000. Speaking about the public's response to her cause, she says, "The donations that I have been receiving are unbelievable. From $5 to $3,000, people are giving whatever they can, and I am so grateful. The media has been of great help in spreading the word."
Monica designs Western couture and loves to add a lot of colours to her outfits. She admires designers like Alexander McQueen, Manish Malhotra, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and John Galliano. "I believe in putting my heart and soul in every garment that I design," she says.
After spending half her youth in the hospital, Monica says she feels old. "Often, I wonder how my life would have been different had that incident not happened. Would I have become a model? Would I be married by now?" she says.
When her father passed away a year ago, Monica hit rock bottom. "My whole life turned upside down. He was my rock. He stood by me through the worst years of my life and suddenly he was gone. That is when I decided to create my own future. I wanted to live my dreams like my father wanted me to," she says.
She hates being called a victim. "The whole point of spending so much money on my treatment is to help me blend with the crowd. I should not have to hide my face. I do not want to be identified as an acid attack victim. It bums me out," she says. Monica will undergo her 44th surgery today, and is hopeful of starting a new life in New York soon. Those who wish to make a donation can log on to bit.ly/GoMonica.