My husband, 10 years my senior, shouted at me for no reason. He would often beat me with his belt and throw me out of the house. Other times, he would grab me by the hair, throw me on the floor, get on top of me and choke me.
I see human waste floating like dead fish around me. A skin-crawling mix of insects, drain flies, and spiders stick to the pipes and walls and swarm around me. I risk my life with each breath.
Standing on top of the podium with the gold medal around my neck and the national flag of India raised above me, goosebumps covered my arms and tears stood in my eyes.
The guards mentally and physically tortured me. They called me a terrorist, rioter, traitor, jihadi. I wasn’t allowed to brush my teeth or read books, and I could barely sleep in my tiny, filthy, isolated cell.
Due to the partition of India, our family was eternally displaced. We lost everything. I have an affinity for refugees who lose their homes due to mindless hate and violence.
The cops stripped me naked and beat me with sticks and belts. I'd cry, scream, beg — urinating was severely painful. They didn't give me water and food for five days. I had to chew my clothes. I was in so much pain I could have eaten grass.
I was teased, scorned, and labeled. I was bullied and humiliated in public. My 'friends' reacted in the only way they were taught to: with disgust.
Vaibhav was knocked unconscious by the lightning strike. I couldn't see him breathing or moving. I escaped death. Vaibhav died on the spot.