Acid attack victim Monica Singh finds new life at Parsons School of Design in New York

Singh almost died from acid attack in India.

By Raif Karerat

Monica Singh (Photos courtesy of Barcroft Media.)
Monica Singh (Photos courtesy of Barcroft Media.)

WASHINGTON, DC: Ten years ago, aspiring fashion designer Monica Singh’s life was changed forever when a scorned marriage proposal in India led to a horrific acid attack that almost killed her, deformed her face, peeled off all her skin, and left her needing 46 reconstructive surgeries.

Despite the harrowing tribulations she’s been put through, Singh, now 29, has begun studying at acclaimed Parsons School of Design in New York, where she looks set to follow her dream of becoming the fashionista she’s always wanted to be.

“My passion has always been to make people feel beautiful, like princesses, and hopefully in New York, I will get the opportunity to prove what I can do,” she told Barcroft Media.

Singh’s life was turned upside down in 2005, when she decided to take a break from the Delhi Institute of Fashion Technology studies to visit her home in Lucknow.

According to the Daily Mail, a longtime friend asked her to marry him, but the suitor wanted her to abandon her parents, her education, and her career aspirations, so she rejected him.

He later called her while she was driving and asked him to wind her window down, claiming he was nearby and could see her. At the moment Singh lowered her window, a man on a bike rode by and doused her face in acid.

Photos courtesy of Barcroft Media.
Photos courtesy of Barcroft Media.

“At first, I thought somebody had pulled a prank and thrown a coffee or a cold drink on me, but slowly, slowly it started burning my skin all over,” Singh said. “It became painful and I started screaming.”

By the time she made it to a hospital, doctors were unsure if she would survive the abhorrent assault. The acid had burned through all seven layers of the skin on her face, affected other large swathes of her body, and she faced an incredibly difficult road to recovery.

After the incident, her father, who worked as a stockbroker in India, spent his life savings of €50,000 ($55,000) on a plethora of surgeries to alleviate the damage, with doctors even pioneering a new type of skin graft for her back.

Even with the surgeries, it was a year before she was able to move independently in a wheelchair and she had to learn to talk again. There was even a time when her entire body was completely skinless.

“It was very painful and I used to scream but not as a person usually does,” Singh remarked. “The screams used to come from my soul, I was screaming, ‘Kill me now, I can’t bear this anymore.'”

While Singh admits she may still be “abnormal looking” to the rest of society, she remains indefatigable in her pursuit of happiness, and now that she is in New York, she has only the highest hopes for her future.

“When I first got here I remember looking out of my window at the lights in Time Square and jumping up and down saying to myself, ‘I’m finally here,'” she exclaimed.

Back in India, according to local press two of the men who were hired to attack her are in custody but three are out on bail.

Despite the glaring injustice, Singh is wholly focused on moving forward with her burgeoning fashion career. According to the Daily Mail, a crowd-funding campaign provided her with an outpouring of support, raising $50,000 to help with her tuition and fees when she started at Parsons in August 2014.

“We all have our share of sorrows and sadness. But if you can create something beautiful out of it then that is amazing,” she expounded.

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