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Coming Home to World Pulse

i_am_freed_.jpg

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.

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Comments

smritikhanam's picture

Speechless

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

gingerhooper's picture

Beauty in Belonging

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's picture

Never again!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

smritikhanam's picture

Speechless

Dear Stella

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

Stella Paul's picture

Want to help find your Speech

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

gabimucatta's picture

Very happy

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's picture

Thanks and welcome

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.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

Stella,, realy touched my

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

Stella Paul's picture

I am touched too!

Dear Usha

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Adepeju's picture

Brilliant Piece! I love

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

Stella Paul's picture

Programmed

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

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

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh

Twitter | Instagram: @ZoFem

Stella Paul's picture

Nothing but a woman

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Ellie's picture

So touched!

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's picture

Beautiful day

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Nusrat Ara's picture

A beautiful and touching

A beautiful and touching story. Keep writing and sharing.

Love

Nusrat

Stella Paul's picture

When you are there

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Thuwaraha's picture

Princess

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

Thuwaraha

Stella Paul's picture

Blessed one

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Monica Clarke's picture

Bless you, beautiful girl

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!

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Stella Paul's picture

Tears of joy

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Carlotta's picture

You are strong

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's picture

I am happy too

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

NakhuloD's picture

Goosebumps.

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's picture

Together we will

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

Simply amazing

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's picture

Can't thank you enough

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

jmadhur's picture

How inspiring!

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's picture

Thank you!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

pinkypradhan's picture

Stella, You are indeed an

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

Pinky

Stella Paul's picture

Its the same here

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

fem4femmes's picture

Family photos...

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

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Stella Paul's picture

Beautiful!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

jemits's picture

its amazing

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.

You cant keep doing the same thing and expect a different result

Stella Paul's picture

Yes dear

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Ify Onyegbule's picture

Oh my...

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's picture

Yes, thats the story!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

udoka29's picture

It's a shame...

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's picture

Lucky

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

VC's picture

getting to know you better

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!

Vaishalli Chandra

“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Stella Paul's picture

Am Glad!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

rukamanqui's picture

Wow!

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's picture

Thank you Natalie!

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Rita Raj's picture

Thank you

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

Stella Paul's picture

Can't thank you enough

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

Hello

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's picture

I loved yours too

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

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

soulhavenlisa's picture

soul sisters

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's picture

REmarkable

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!

Love,
Ruthibelle
ruthibelle.blogspot.com

Stella Paul's picture

Sunshine

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!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

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