“I don’t let negative things bother me because deep in my heart I know I haven’t done anything to be afraid of.”
But Jyoti has done a lot to be in awe of. A Cindrallesque stepmother, a lost career dream, a hearing disability from the age of 3, an utterly sexually abusive husband who also forced her to give up two babies in the womb (as if, marital rape wasn’t enough) and snatched away the third one who she decided to give birth to, HIV attack due to medical negligence at the hospital during her abortion, a divorce without consent and more – are just a few highlights from the contours of Jyoti’s rather difficult life.
Today, Jyoti is still fighting a legal battle for the custody of her son (now over 10 years), who is being forced by his father to be raised by a stepmother again (her ex-husband’s second wife). This is the last thing Jyoti wanted to happen to her child, having been a victim of one. Being HIV stricken, she is leaving no stone unturned in spreading awareness about HIV, AIDs and what it means to the society. She has been asked to sever relations with many who discovered her HIV status.
“People will always blame a woman. Such is a society we live in and one tends to be judged based on your life history” is how Jyoti shrugs off all those instances of unacceptable human behavior meted out to her for no fault of hers.
While her life is mired with medical and legal hardships, she chose to touch others’ lives in many ways, but always with love, as that’s what she desired for the most. Jyoti now has so many awards and certificates to herself, that her home doesn’t have enough space for them!
Jyoti’s story in her own words:
Coming from a well-to-do family, my life should have been like an icing on the cake if it wasn't for the fact that I grew up in a broken home and family. I used to lead a Cindrella type of childhood. I was locked in one room, lunch was a luxury to me and breakfast/dinner was only cornflakes or milk and bread. I have never felt 'loved' or know what actually love is like. Yes, dad cared for me, at least that is what I felt but I don’t remember ever sitting on his lap or being hugged.
That's why I always preach and practice love - just like Mother Teresa said it, 'There is more hunger for love than for anything else in this world'. Yes, I failed to understand the real meaning of 'love' which is highly a misunderstood and underrated topic but my experiences in life’s journey opened my eyes to what it truly means.
Your struggles/the challenges you faced and how you managed.
Being Hearing Impaired: I lost my hearing at the age of 3. Though I am told it was because of a vehicular accident, doctors tend to disagree and point out that it is more because of physical abuse. Well, I have accepted my handicap as a blessing in disguise because of two reasons:
*Being Domestic Violence Survivor: It made me stand up to my honour, self-worth and self-esteem, something that I didn't realise before.
*Being HIV Positive: Taught me to love myself first. Also taught me the art of loving 'unconditionally' (role model Mother Teresa) and giving 'selflessly' (role model Princess Diana)
Your sources of strength - These could be people or situations but ones that your draw your strength from.
I read and watch a lot of real life stories from Real People, Real Lives - in films, books, and people I meet in my journey. They have shaped and moulded me into a person I am today.
A moment of courage - A situation where you faced a very tough challenge but mustered the courage to carry on.
The day when my ex-husband clearly told me -”If you want to kill yourself, do it outside the home.” That's when I decided to live - and living was the harder as a choice, as compared to dying.
Jyoti’s vision: To eliminate the stigma, stop discrimination and make the world a better place for HIV affected people to live in - to be Accepted, To be Loved, To be Understood - without Judgement
We always look for light at the end of the tunnel. What if life decides your journey to be in the dark tunnel itself? Jyoti shines through her light nevertheless!
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