It took her years of struggle to come out of darkness. But she gathered the courage to beat the trauma and stigma to traverse the tough journey and become a torch bearer for HIV victims.

This is how a documentary film traces the touching and inspiring story of a 40-year-old HIV positive widow from a village in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

Produced by a writer from Himachal, Rajendra Rajan, the 16 minutes documentary film in English is titled ‘I am ….’ by real name of the HIV positive woman, who has shaped up into a community leader, a motivator for other people living with HIV AIDS in the state in the last seven years.

“The theme is inspired by story ‘Naraazgi’ by Ajay Prashar from his book ‘Mein Jeena Sikhata Hoon’ on HIV AIDS patients,” said Rajan, sharing that the documentary is being screened for the first time at the Government PG College, Chandigarh on 26 May.

The documentary is a first-person account of the matriculate HIV positive widow, who is open to her identity as she believes that acceptance is the only way to win over HIV and the stigma attached to it.

“Had my husband told me about the infection, I wouldn’t have got it. And had my in-laws taken my husband to the hospital for Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) fearing that if he was detected HIV positive, the whole village would isolate them. Had they accepted the reality, my husband could have been saved.”

In the documentary film, the narrates that she got education up to matric with struggle, as none in the family and village were interested in sending girls to schools in those times.

“Then, despite my resistance, I was married to a truck driver who was working in Delhi. We were happy, however. But after a gap of eight years, he got ill and confined to a single room in the house. Soon he died and I was told that he died of Tuberculosis,” she says.

The HIV victim mentions that she was kept in the dark about the cause of death of her husband and was later taken to a medical college for blood test. “I tested positive for HIV. I was suddenly blank. I had no hope of survival. My self- confidence shattered and I wanted to die.” (A solace for her was that her two sons, aged five and six then, were normal).

Fighting the HIV status, she had to take to petty jobs on daily wages for financial sustainability.

But luck was to her side. Some NGOs working on HIV/AIDS awareness came in contact with her and turned her fortunes. She was consistently counselled and a leading NGO gave her job as well.

Confident, the HIV positive widow now sensitises others, delivers lectures on HIV and TB in public, and counsels HIV/AIDS patients.

It is third self-financed documentary film by Rajan, a retired PR professional on socially relevant issues. He earlier made one on withering ‘khatris’ traditional water bodies in Hamirpur and another on 28 oustee families living on Kuthehra island in Pong dam.