It was the Sunday before Diwali, and just the right kind of sunny day that leaves you full of hope. Team Sue Mue stepped into Anu Mukherjee’s home near Iskcon Temple in Delhi, where she lives with her three-year-old pug, Fruti. The former bar dancer now works at the Supreme Court, and was warm and welcoming as she introduced the others in the room.

There was Nasrin, who recently got a job at the Delhi High Court and is a mother of two. Beside her was Archana, who works at a government hospital in Faridabad, and lives with her doting husband. Then there was Basanti, who loves to sing and makes the best karak chai ever.

The four women we met had one important detail in common: they were all victims of acid attack.

Over the course of a few hours, our conversation moved beyond formalities, and we got a heartrending glimpse of the generosity of their spirit. They spoke frankly about the need to love, and the gift of life.

As they spoke, their scars seemed to us like beacons of their fearlessness. Their tales took us on journeys of hope for a better today and a brighter tomorrow. Their optimism opened our eyes to how one can find the silver lining in even the bleakest of conditions. Their unbelievable zeal to fight for justice roused us.

And their friendship made us aware of how – no matter how grim our own lives may be – we can always support one another with love and vigour.

These women are survivors of a gruesome past, but they are reconstructing a new future, a new empire, one block at a time.

It was a Sunday well-spent with four heroines, four Ariella women with lion hearts, who laugh like there is no tomorrow, whose humility and gratitude for life is infectious.

And who have learnt to move beyond the dark of hatred into the light of hope.

Isn’t that what Diwali is all about?

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