Women have survived violent crimes against them since ages now, and they have risen to be an inspiration for many others.
Rangoli Chandel, Kangana Ranaut's older sister, is one such woman. She was attacked with acid by an unrequited lover back when she was just 23 years old. In an exclusive interview with Pinkvilla, she finally comes out and shares the trauma of it, and how life has changed for her.
This is what Rangoli had to say:
Acid permeates into the skin if untreated. So immediate medical help can only control it. If it is stronger, it destroys your organs. I have lost one ear. I have lost 90% vision in one of my eyes. I have a dysfunctional breast. And all this is after I got the best possible treatment in the country. Acid attack is not a regular accident. When it happened, I was unable to breathe because my windpipe was shrinking. Scars were the last thing on my mind then. I didn’t have the courage to face a mirror for three months. I was shaken up. My prerogative was struggling for my life because both my food and wind pipe were severely damaged. I was in the hospital for a month and I underwent multiple surgeries during that time. Everyday I was taken to the operation theatre for something or the other.
"Plastic surgery is not so easy. It doesn’t give you a new face."
I had to get skin from thighs and get grafting done. It took 57 surgeries. The physical pain was excruciating and at 23 the mental trauma was painful. Kangana was a struggler back then but she brought me here. My parents couldn’t bear seeing at me in that scene then. You don’t get this strength easily. My parents were doing their filmy drama ki iski shaadi kaise hogi, kya hoga iska. Once I came back from hospital, Kangana would personally sponge me. The grafting was freshly done and it needed care. Kangana never cried infront of me but I could sense her tears.
Kangana showed immense courage through it all, she stayed by her sister's side always.
We don’t glorify the right heroes. And I want men to know how far people stoop in aggression. We need to tell our children that one who does such things is not our hero. Hero is the one who survives blame, rejection and ruthlessness. People should give my sister the credit she deserves. There is no reservation for attack victims. There are reservations for physically able people but those ostracized for no fault of theirs have no one championing for their cause. The guy who did this to my sister was out for two years before his trial started.
"If marriage doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen."
Every time my mother and father would see her, they would faint. Physically faint. And I couldn’t take care of so many people. So I had to send them back. Her fiancé was in the Air Force, and even he fled. The attacker was someone who was obsessing over her. When we were in school, Taal had released and the whole town kept calling her Aishwarya Rai. She had sharp features, big eyes. I would feel bad that no one ever compared me with anyone. Rangoli had that presence. A guy had obsessed over her for years but she was very emotionally attached to the man my parents had chosen for her. They were in an intense relationship for two years but after the attack he immediately washed hands off her. I was amazed at her strength when I told her that he might not marry you. She dismissively replied saying ‘whatever’. Later she fell in love with her childhood friend Ajay. They dated for four years and even his mother was against the alliance. I went home thinking she must be shattered. She was lazying on a couch, watching TV, binging on chips. Marriage was the last thing on her mind when she was fighting for life and her fiancé fled. But when she and Ajay were planning to marry, she was past that phase. When I asked her what if it doesn’t happen and she promptly replied saying, "If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. We will go for dinner somewhere." She is so tough and inspirational. Later that night, we went for dinner. And over Rajma Chawal, we chatted and laughed about the restaurant’s name.
And is the message from the sisters for women everywhere!
"We are real women who have worked hard, fought our battles and won!"
Everyone goes through sh*t and that’s not in anyone’s control. No one wants to talk about it. We glorify fairytale angles far too much. I don’t think mine or Rangoli’s life is any different than that of others. To give the impression that I was born a special child and over the years, I became more special is the most clichéd way of portraying a celebrity. We are real women who have worked hard, fought our battles and won! Life cannot be a joyride, it will be a rollercoaster ride. Any incident or accident can’t define you. Go beyond it and be much more
Both the ladies, the struggles they've been through, and the way they've conquered life is a huge inspiration for us. Rangoli's story gives hope to both women and men subjected to violent crimes. The sisters have come victorious out of life's most darkest of times, they've fought their battles and won! Their story is awe-inspiring and it will definitely serve as the beacon of strength for many.