Coming Home to World Pulse

Stella Paul
Posted September 13, 2011 from India
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The beginning of my story is a little blurred. When, as an 8 month old, you are picked up by your father and thrown 20 yards away like a stone because your cries disturbed his sleep, the pain is blurring. When, you are sick and suffer for days as the family debates if you have a right to live, it does weaken your eyesight. When, a 5-year old, you fall from a stack of bricks (where someone made you sit), break your nose and just let to bleed for months, it blurs your vision.

But, as the story advances, things get better. Some moments are extraordinarily clear: male cousins touching me where they are not supposed to touch, neighborhood kids joking, calling me ‘flat nose’, my beautiful sister refusing to go out with me because I am ‘ugly’. And then, one day, when I am leaving for boarding school, I realize, there isn’t a single family photo that I can take, because none has me. I was born a girl when my family expected a boy. So, I was not meant to be one of them.

The revelation is damaging. I can’t decide what to do with this ugly, unwanted me. I stay away from everyone for the fear of being ridiculed. Slowly, I become a pariah.

But, years later, I am a journalist against all odds and report on people living within margins. Every day, I meet women who are often abused by their male relatives, wear hands-me-down clothes and torn sandals held together with a safety pin. These are women who wash, cook, clean 18 hours a day and are still called ‘dharti ka bojh’(burden on the earth). I listen and cry; I have been there.

Then I listen a little more: these marginalized women of India are actually a rising army of change makers; they are taking micro loans to buy computers, cell phones and start a business; they are laboring with men and demanding equal pay; they are fighting displacement, corruption, domestic violence, and, even elections.

‘This army deserves a space in the media’, I think, ‘its stories need to be amplified, so, world over, people can be inspired and strengthen their own fight’.

But, after a few stories, my editor is ‘bored’. So I spend hours, looking for forums that are ready to hear women who are bruised in body, but whole in spirit.

One day, google leads me to World Pulse. I post a story. Someone in faraway Africa reads it and tells me that it made sense to her! ‘Write on,’ she urges. And, suddenly, I know, I have got what I always dreamed of: a home where I and my words matter; where I am beautiful, dignified, and I can be the voice of the future.

Yes, the beginning was blurred. But the end isn’t. Because, at the end, I have a family picture and it includes me.

Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision

Comments 72

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  • smritikhanam
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Stella I have read your story and I am speechless. I don't know what to say. Your story has stolen my heart

  • Laura Cook
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    What a great introduction to your journey and story. I just want to encourage you that we are not defined by our past but by our actions now and what we can achieve in the future. I am glad the 'pariah' has been left behind and the beautiful you is emerging through your work. Keep going and standing up for what you believe in.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Laura

    Yes, the past is behind and the future is before me. For us all to be precise. I was reading your profile and there you talk about the tunnel of darkness. We all have our dark tunnels and at the end, we all emerge into a field of light. When there are such supportive voices, nobody will cling on to the past. Thanks for being here!

  • smritikhanam
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Stella

    I read your story and I can not find any words. Your story has stolen my heart and my speech

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Smriti Its very touching to read your comment, but I hope instead of leaving your speechless, I can make you talk :) I am honored by your gesture dear

  • gabimucatta
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Stella

    I had read some of your articles earlier (specially on IndiaUnheard) and found them really moving. But nothing compares to this story. Though I had heard about this forum, I joined it only now and can you imagine my surprise when I saw your story, of all the people?

    I had no idea what all you went through. Its heart breaking. But your positive attitude is a proof that you have won so many battles. Few can do that. Personally, I have been a victim of abuse and it nearly finished me. So I salute your spirits and specially your decision to work for marginalized women. They really need you.

    So, now that you are home, write and touch lives!

    A very big hug from Tasmania!

    Gabi

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Gabi

    First of all, a warm welcome to the group. I am glad too, to reconnect with you here. Yes, the women I talk about, are so inspiring, they are a rising force of revolutionaries. Once you meet such people, you can't be a loner.And once you stop being a loner, you have a community! Hope you will also enjoy being a part of this community here.

  • Usha K.C.
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Stella,, realy touched my heart . hats off to you dear. much love

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Usha

    You never fail to touch my heart too. I feel richer and wiser when I communicate with you.Thanks!

  • Adepeju (Mabadeje)
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Brilliant Piece! I love stories that portray a rise against all odds!!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    You know there's a saying; when you are already standing against a wall, you can't back off any more.Then,all you can do is moving forward. But its always wonderful to know that there are others walking with you! Thanks for reading!

  • Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Hi Stella, I will first begin my comment with, my expression. Have you observed that i am always responding 'true'to all waht you say. I think we seem to reason alike.

    that a side, i wish you could see the smile, a very big one on my face as i read ur story to conclusion. it is so interesting and i love very much the enegry we applied in the story. i am glad that finally at last, there is a famility pic with u in it. and if i may guest, that family pic (paper space) is Pulsewire. wao!!! it is exciting to know that.

    dear Sr, you are wonderful. i love ur article. interesting - thanks for sharing

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Friend

    Having someone like you as a friend is a blessing. And, after having walked all those miles, I can safely tell you that being born as a woman is a blessing in disguise. It is puzzling, painful and yet, at one point you realize, this is how you want it to be - stretched to the limit of your strength, your energy, your patience and your faith,which only grows as you struggle on.

    In India, there is a folk song: ab jo kiye ho data/aisa na kijo/agle janam mohe bitiya na kijo (God,please don't repeat what you did in this life/please dont make me a girl again)

    These days,thousands of women are singing 'god make me a woman in next life again'.I have joined them!

    Love

  • Ellie
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Stella,

    Your writing is so beautiful and even more, it's amazing to have you "home" at World Pulse! Never forget that you are beautiful - inside and out, and please write on....

    Ellie

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Ellie

    In India, a work day is just beginning.At that precious moment, can you imagine how it feels to read such a bunch of loving words from a friend, living in another corner of the world? Am I not lucky to be a woman? I sure am! Isn't it a day made more beautiful?It sure is!

    Cheers!

  • Nusrat Ara
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    A beautiful and touching story. Keep writing and sharing.

    Love

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Dear Nusrat

    When there are friends as encouraging as you, how can I stop writing? I am so happy to have connected with you. God bless this bonding! God bless you too

    Love

  • Thuwaraha
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    Hi Stella, I always love the way what u r expressing here... For me u r the princess of this world and ur space :)

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 13, 2011
    Sep 13, 2011

    I feel truly blessed, to hear such lovely words.It took me all these years to tell my story, I never thought I would do that. I thought it would be trivial.Now I feel a burden is off my heart. And I owe that to you! Thanks you!

  • Monica Clarke
    Sep 14, 2011
    Sep 14, 2011

    Your country, your continent, our world, would be dim without your light. What a bright light you are on the road of our children and grandchildren. Your light will shine right into the depths of South Africa, and will be seen by the women and children who are sold, abused and bleeding. Under your light they will take a break to put salve on their wounds, before taking their burdens up again so that they can, like you, walk into the beauty of life.

    I will make sure that I carry your light to them.

    God bless you, beautiful, beautiful girl!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 14, 2011
    Sep 14, 2011

    Dear Sister Monica

    After crying a lot out of pain and indignity, today I am crying out of joy. This love,so deeply felt through your message is melting my heart. What a wonderful feeling this is, to be able to share my most secret story ever and to be embraced by such a loving person living in another corner of the world!

    I am so happy to learn of your work. In the society where I live, girls are treated with violence, then victimized by silence. An opportunity, even a tiny weeny one, to speak out, can help them restore faith in life. That why I vowed to report on these women whose pain I felt. And I can tell you my sister, you are going to be showered with love and blessings of so many women whose lives you touch.

    Keep the torch burning, so many lost ones can see it and find a way through darkness

    Love!

  • Carlotta
    Sep 14, 2011
    Sep 14, 2011

    You are a very strong woman. Others would have become total failures because of all that you had to bear, Congratulations for making your mark on this planet against all odds. I am giving you a hug in my heart and am happy to be in the same picture with you.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 14, 2011
    Sep 14, 2011

    And I am happy to have you in the picture. Its overwhelming to have such supportive comrades when the fight is a long one

    Hugs to you too

  • Sanyu Awori
    Sep 15, 2011
    Sep 15, 2011

    Dear Stella,

    Your story gave me goosebumps. Keep pushing, keep writing. You matter.

    Thank you for sharing. Your words run deep.

    Peace,

    N.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 15, 2011
    Sep 15, 2011

    Dear Friend

    Yeah pushing should come naturally to a woman.Pushing the baby out of her womb, pushing the crowd to find her way towards her goal and pushing herself to get her voice up.

    Together, we will do that. Thanks!

  • Rumbidzai Dube
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Stella, your experiences are just so touching. I wish I could transform you into that little girl and cuddle you and assure you that everything is going to be alright. But I came into your life a little too late for that. What I can do is look at you, admire you for the woman you have become and encourage you to continue to shine. Let those who thought you were not valuable realise what a pure gem you are. Let others in the community you came from begin to appreciate what great losses they are bringing unto themselves when they treat the girl-child like an insignificant thing.

    Thank you for sharing your story :-)

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Since I connected with you here, your words have been a great source of joy and strength. Its never too late to turn back in life, and take ownership of what belongs to you, but was denied.

    I am trying to do that and I am so lucky to have a friend like you - a another woman who understand the meaning of struggle and need of it.

    Hugs!

  • jmadhur
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    As a woman from a developing country, I hear bad things that happen to us all the time. But personally, I don't like to read too much about it. what I always look for is a story where I see examples of overcoming and dealing with the problems. Your story is the most inspiring story I have ever read and I am taking a print out of it. I don't think there can be a better example of how to overcome all the problems in life. I think, when I have hard time, I will read this story.

    A big salute to you

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    These are beautiful words and I completely understand and agree. Talking about problem is important, but providing solution is also equally important.And every woman is capable of being a solution provider. I am encouraged and strengthened by your message a lot!

    Thanks to you too!

  • Pinky pradhan
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Stella,

    You are indeed an inspiration. I am so happy that inspite of all of this, you have achieved so much. You are strong, independent, straightforward and an intelliegient person. We all have stories, some sad , some happy -- but the the crux is to move on in life, to draw inspirations from it.

    I am happy to meet so many fierce women like you.

    Love Pinky

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Dear Pinky

    I am equally lucky and happy to have met you. Having come from North east, I and you have more in common than what meets the eyes: things that we saw and lived, and a shared belief of living, by moving on. can't thank you enough for being here! Wish you much success in your mission too!

  • fem4femmes
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    I have long believed that our real family is the one we create, not the one we are born into... WorldPulse has been the best family reunion I have ever attended! I am so fortunate to be in that family portrait with you and the many other women here with us!!

    Love and laughter today, my sister!

    marissa

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Dear Marissa

    That very line - family is what we create- is so liberating! Its also empowering because it reflects one's power to choose. Thanks for such liberating message! Love to you too!

  • jemits
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    its amazing that we can such a forum to express ourselves. Pleasing to know that we can finally share what none of our family members have never heard and worst still how friends have mocked, ridiculed and spread what we think we tols them in confidence. Now is the time to share them to the ones that will learn from them, but far from it, is to allow these past stories weigh us down.

    amazing but touching piece stella.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Dear friend Like you, there were many things that I had, that weren't the best. But after living many years with inferiority,I can feel very proud of the women friends I have here with me. Finally, something very best is happening!

    Love

  • Ify Onyegbule
    Sep 17, 2011
    Sep 17, 2011

    Dear Friend,

    You went through all these? The foto with your arms wide open speaks freedom...i believe we all find it here on Pulsewire...where women connect!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 17, 2011
    Sep 17, 2011

    Yes, that's my picture, in sepia tone! But I like it better now..the colors are all natural or. Love Pulsewire for that!

    Thanks and a smile!

  • udoka29
    Sep 17, 2011
    Sep 17, 2011

    It's an absolute shame that such a gift of the female child would be treated with such cruelty and neglect in a household. But you showed them that it's really not a barrier to success in one's life.

    Well done.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Dear friend

    I was too young to resist when I faced most of the cruelties. But I can say that I am still lucky. Because, thousands of girl children are killed soon after birth. I believe that I was made to survive because God wanted me to join those women who are fighting crime against women. And so I am vowed to speak on.

    Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Vaishalli Chandra
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Wow! reading this, I wondered, if I hardly know you. Given that we interacted for those two days at the workshop, but this is so different from the you I know.

    It is humbling in a way, your struggles have made you strong but you are also a person who is so warm and affectionate. I am glad your early experiences haven't made you bitter, on the contrary, you are such an accepting person, its amazing!

    Stay that way, Stella, you are a lovely person!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    I am so glad for not coming across as a bitter, closed person. Otherwise, we would have never become friends! Actually I have a simple belief: struggles and hardship are something everyone faces. There is nothing great about succumbing to them. There is also nothing very inspiring about overcoming struggle, but living in bitterness. Because, that indicates a loss - the loss of your own self. The real win is in overcoming hardship and still be able to smile. Thats when you can really be a strength to others. I strive to be that one.

    Back to you, am glad to see you here. This, indeed , is a wonderful forum and I am sure to know you better too!

    A hug!

  • rukamanqui
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    You have a way with words, sister! And I'm so glad that you understand how precious your voice is. Just reading your words makes it obvious how beautiful you are, and I'm so glad to have the honor to be inspired by you!! Keep on writing and making those things people often ignore VISIBLE!

    Much love,

    Natalie

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Only one with pure heart and spirit can see the purity of another.And when I'm reading this message from you, I am glad to see what a warm, friendly and kind person you are, to see right through someone's heart. Thank you for this message and thank you for being my friend!

  • Rita Raj
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Reading your words, hearing you has made a difference to me! as an Indian thank you for being an inspiration

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Its the same feeling here. You are one of the earliest friends I met in this forum and had been missing you too. Its so great to see you again and to hear your words which, in turn, are strengthening to me too!

  • Olanike
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    I love your spirit, it reverberated through every word you used to tell your story. The world needs to keep hearing your unique voice power.

    Warmly,

    Olanike

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 18, 2011
    Sep 18, 2011

    Thank you my dear. I loved your spirit too and how you are using your energy to make this planet a better one. Love!

  • Lisa Espinosa
    Sep 19, 2011
    Sep 19, 2011

    Hi Stella,

    Again, I repeat what has already been said. Your story is inspiring and moving. And I love your writing, jarring, free, and transparent. You heal with words.

    Love and light, Lisa

  • ruthibelle
    Sep 19, 2011
    Sep 19, 2011

    You're the kind of remarkable I'm talking about. You have a very powerful and inspiring story, and you tell it in exactly the same way. Lots of love to you, Stella. You're a constant source of hope. :)

    PS You write so beautifully!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 19, 2011
    Sep 19, 2011

    I think, coming from a place like Jamaica, laughter and joy come easily to you. I can feel a certain brightness in your message, like sunshine. You made my day brighter with this message. May you have a beautiful day too!

  • Paulina Nayra
    Sep 20, 2011
    Sep 20, 2011

    You are beautiful. Your picture is striking. Looks aren't that important but I want to tell your sister and the others who thinks otherwise, that they are completely wrong. I got carried away by your story.

    You are talented. You are smart. And you are making your mark in this world by letting the world know about the situation of women in your world. Keep up the good work, Stella Paul.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 20, 2011
    Sep 20, 2011

    Dear Paulina

    These words that you say, are worth all that pain I underwent for years. I believe life gives you just 2 options: stagnate (which is pure no pain/no gain move) or to move on. We all have opted for that.And when my faith and courage meet yours' along with the love that you give, there is no question of stagnating or quitting.

    Thanks so much for being here. Can't thank you enough!

  • Tawjna
    Sep 23, 2011
    Sep 23, 2011

    Your story is the story mankind will never tire of hearing - no matter how many of them have been written. Why? It is true and authentically you. The issue oftentimes is not that we fall, but how quickly we get up, shake ourselves off and move on. Keep on moving.

    Regards,

    Tawjna

  • Stella Paul
    Oct 05, 2011
    Oct 05, 2011

    I was going through my posts and when I noticed this beautiful comment from you my friend that I hadn't replied to. Would you be kind enough to forgive me for that? Its pure joy to make a friend here and to get a comment that is so encouraging. I am so lucky! Thanks you so much!

  • Jessica Carmen
    Sep 26, 2011
    Sep 26, 2011

    Stella,

    You spoke of your struggles in such a beautiful and inspiring way. Thank you for sharing. Absolutely, wonderfully written.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 26, 2011
    Sep 26, 2011

    Thanks so much for taking your time out to read and comment.The city that I am currently based at -Hyderabad- is reeling under a political movement right now and everyday there is a strike. Among all that chaos and inconvenience finding a positive message such as this certainly gives a lot of strength as we go into a new work day.

    A hug!

  • Olesya
    Sep 28, 2011
    Sep 28, 2011

    How can you be ugly? Look at your picture! You look like a Bollywood star :))

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 28, 2011
    Sep 28, 2011

    Hehehe, yes, I consider myself beautiful today. Not because I had a dramatic makeover. But because I think I am beautiful, every woman, every girl child is beautiful. Those who don't agree, don't have the eyes that you have - the way to look at things. I was surrounded by people like them once. Not any more :)

    Love you, one with beautiful eyes!

  • Fungai Machirori
    Sep 29, 2011
    Sep 29, 2011

    You blew me away completely. This is inspiring, absolutely inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the last line. You are now in a family picture because you have finally become a part of a family of women with endless stories of joy, pain, happiness, struggle and everything else in between.

    Welcome sister!

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 29, 2011
    Sep 29, 2011

    And I welcome you right back! I heard from friends here how you moved them (where do you hide that jumbo strength?) and I can tell why: you know how to embrace one!!! Thanks and so glad, this is just the beginning! A hug!

  • Rebecca Lerner
    Oct 05, 2011
    Oct 05, 2011

    Wow, what a powerful piece. It's hard to understand why women are so oppressed. Thank goodness for World Pulse, and for you, for continuing to shine your light and speak your truth despite such a difficult upbringing. I can't imagine how awful that must be. Why do men hate women so much?

  • Stella Paul
    Oct 05, 2011
    Oct 05, 2011

    Dear Rebecca

    My personal opinion is, women are hated because they don't contribute much to their parents family. In traditional society of India, families pay dowry when a girl gets married, drains the family financially. And once she is married, all her earnings go to her husband. So, for average families, girls mean only expenses!.Also, in patriarchal societies, boys also mean power. This is a very crude way to sum it up, but true!!

    Thanks for reading, huh.I checked your blog 2 days back. It was a shocker, because I am obsessed with edible and medicinal plants. I already am moving towards owning my own farm, also working on my first book. Talk about finding a soulmate!

  • Rebecca Lerner
    Oct 06, 2011
    Oct 06, 2011

    Wow, awesome!

  • Rebecca Lerner
    Oct 05, 2011
    Oct 05, 2011

    And by the way that's a wonderful picture of you on the water. You are a very beautiful being inside and out.

  • Stella Paul
    Oct 05, 2011
    Oct 05, 2011

    Yeah, beauty lies in the eyes of the viewer! But modesty apart, I feel every human being is beautiful. Those who have action and thoughts to match, are even more beautiful than others. Mother Teresa had wrinkles, an arched back, simple blue bordered cotton saris and yellowed teeth and yet she is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known! Thanks again, for your comment!

  • Ruth Hartmann
    Oct 25, 2011
    Oct 25, 2011

    Stella - You inspire me. You've been through so much and give so much! Thank you for being who you are and congrats on being featured in the World Pulse newsletter as a VOF highlight. You deserve it, yours is a powerful voice of our future!

  • Stella Paul
    Oct 25, 2011
    Oct 25, 2011

    I also get inspired by you and all other women in this group Ruth.That is also our strength. Let us always stay close and work together for a better future. Love

  • Pushpa Achanta
    Nov 01, 2011
    Nov 01, 2011

    Stella,

    Your story is inspiring and moving. Hope to meet u sometime!

    Warmly, Pushpa

  • Stella Paul
    Nov 01, 2011
    Nov 01, 2011

    Dear Pushpa

    Same here! It will be great to meet, have coffee and talk a lot. Hope it happens soon sometime!

    Love

  • Ruth Beedle
    Nov 01, 2011
    Nov 01, 2011

    And now you are part of the World Pulse family picture and are we ever glad to have you! Welcome, beautiful and shining Stella. I am looking forward to hearing your story and what you hope to create in this world that left you bleeding yet ready to take it on and make it better with that blood and some tears and even more words and the occasional laughter!

  • Stella Paul
    Nov 01, 2011
    Nov 01, 2011

    As I read this, I notice the time: its not yet daybreak and you are up - either too early, or you haven't slept at all ( In Vedic era, they called this the 'Brahma Muhurtam' - the most auspicious moment when night is over and the sun is just to rise.) Either way, you get a big hug for that. Its great to be here, to walk with you all beautiful women. Much Love!

  • Maya Norton
    Apr 27, 2013
    Apr 27, 2013

    Stella, this is beautiful.

    ~ Maya