By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 21, 2016

I remember Alesia Raut as this tall, gangly girl, who folded herself and walked, almost coming to the size of those who were around her, not wanting to tower over the rest.

She was just 17 when I met her, and I wondered why she was so shy. She was in the modelling field and she was supposed to be confident. Years later, when I looked back to an incident when I was shooting with her and Manoj Bohra at the Taj Hotel for a Valentine’s Day shoot for Bombay Times, I realized the reason for her awkwardness: She was just a kid!

I remember her being ill at ease throughout the drive, as we drove in Vikram Bawa’s Maruti Esteem, she in the front seat, all folded up, (knees to her chin), Manoj and me in the back seat. But once the shoot began, she was her professional self, snuggling up to Manoj when required and giving that requisite smile to bring that oomph into the shot.

We remained friends throughout. Something about her drew me to her. We always stayed in touch, but rarely met. Then one day in 2005, she met me at the office to give me the good news—she was moving to Russia to get married. There was jubilation in her voice. I was happy for her.

Over MSN, we kept in touch, she sharing her joys and the birth of Mark, her son. Soon, it was all over. She had endured abuse in her marriage and had now decided to make a choice: that of standing up!

Her parents flew down to Russia, giving her all the support and got her safe and sound to India along with her infant son.

Mr and Mrs Raut: hats off to you. How many parents in India would have done what you did to your daughter? Not many, I guess. I can almost hear those parents say, “You are married now, don’t spoil our name. Stay in your husband’s house.” Endure the abuse would be the meaning of that statement.

But not Alesia’s parents; they would have none of it. It was their daughter that was going through a tough time, and it was their duty to ensure they gave her a life she deserved. So what if they had to fly half way across the globe to get their daughter and their grandchild back to their nest!

It is stories like these that give girls hope; stories of parents standing by them when the chips are down, not blaming them.

Today, Alesia Raut is one of the biggest name in the modelling industry, with tons of recognition by way of awards and dozens of invites to judge contests as well as give talks on her field and on how to be confident and stay confident.

Everyday, one reads about her in the newspapers and sees her photographs, walking gracefully on the ramp, sometimes, with the handsome Mark by her side.

Alesia stood tall (no more folding up, no more knees to her chin), and looked life in the eye: “You are too beautiful to let me pass by,” she said.

Today, along with Opening Doorz, let us celebrate the gift of a girl.

The gift of a woman!

The gift of a mother!

The gift of a winner!

Today, let us celebrate our very own Alesia Raut.

Happy Birthday, Alesia.

God Bless You.

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