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Woman blinded by acid attack finds love from her hospital bed

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Pramodini Rual, who’s known as Rani to her friends and family, was just fifteen years old when a paramilitary soldier threw acid into her face, melting her skin and blinding her in both eyes – simple because she had turned down his marriage proposal.

Rani had been returning from home after an exam with her cousin when the 28-year-old man cycled biked past and doused her with acid.

She spent four months in ICU, and had to remain in bed for four years afterwards, looked after by her widowed mother. She’s gone through five reconstructive surgeries, one of which restored partial vision to her left eye, and has been in physical and mental pain for almost a decade.

She’s unable to pursue a case against her attacker. The police were bribed when the attack occurred, and proceeded to offer to marry Rani after causing her serious injury. ‘I am still waiting for the day when the attacker would be arrested and put behind the bars,’ says Rani. ‘The police had come to record my statement after the attack and I had to lodge the FIR’s for more than once. But the police did not seem to take the case seriously. They did not even arrest the attacker despite me detailing his identity.

‘In fact to our surprise, they lied and denied the very existence of any such person with that name. ‘I also filed a case against the man and had also received summons from the court asking for the submission of evidences. But because I was bed ridden and my mother was left alone due to the withdrawal of support from my family, nothing much could be done. ‘My younger cousin was an eye witness, but there was no one to take him to the court.’ ‘Because of all this the case was dismissed in the year 2012.’

As Pramodi, who’s known as Rani to her friends and family, lay in her hospital bed at a hospital, waiting for a treatment for the pus-filled infection that had ravaged the skin graft on her legs, she met Saroj Kumar Sahoo. Saroj was a friend of one of the nurses giving Rani treatment. On one of his visits to the hospital he saw Rani’s mother crying, and reached out to offer some support.

‘Initially we didn’t speak to each other, even though he had seen me. ‘However, after around 15 days he started to speak to me. He would often visit the hospital. ‘I believe he saw my mother and observed her and then slowly started extending helping hands. She would always come alone for my physio therapy. ‘One day he heard my mother ask about my improvement and how long would it take for me to recover as my lower body had by then deteriorated. I was not able to move without help, let alone stand on my feet. ‘The reply wasn’t very positive as the doctors said that it would take at least four years for me to be able to walk. ‘My mother naturally broke down when she heard that. That is when Saroj consoled her and assured her that he would do everything possible to get me walking.’

From then on, Saroj visited Rani every day, even quitting his job so he could spend his days looking after Rani. ‘He was extremely caring and looked after my needs,’ says Rani. ‘He would talk to me for hours and motivate me.

‘It was a tough time for me when doctors had told me I would not be able to walk for four years. ‘I had already lost my eyesight and the thought of being bedridden was an added woe. But Saroj did not lose hope. He would encourage me everyday, motivating me to be positive and have hopes. ‘He even quit his job to meet me everyday.

From 8 to 12am in the morning and 4 to 8pm in the evening, he was there with me. It had become a routine. ‘Just as medication was required for the physical recovery I needed dire support and encouragement at the mental level.

‘Gradually, the wounds started healing and with treatment and exercise and with his help and support I regained my confidence and now I am standing back on my feet.’

Despite being unable to see Saroj, Rani began to fall in love. Saroj did too. In January 2016, Saroj expressed his feelings, but Rani wasn’t ready yet to commit to a relationship. ‘I too had fallen for him loved him and I did tell him that.

But I also knew that loving is different from entering into a relationship,’ she explains. ‘I was not fit enough to look after myself, how could I keep others happy. So I didn’t really agree then. But it was he who kept encouraging me, by telling me not to think too much. ‘He assured me that there will come a day when I will not just be able to see the world and work but will also be able to make others happy. He always had my confidence.’

Slowly Rani’s confidence grew, and the couple’s love grew with it. They’ve been living together for a year and plan to get married – waiting for Rani to have further reconstructive surgeries before they have a big celebration. Her neck has begun to bend, as her backbone was melted by the acid, and she will require further surgeries on her eyes to increase her vision. She’ll also need plastic surgeries on her head as a large section of skin is missing. ‘I only saw myself in the mirror after my eye surgery in September this year,’ says Rani. ‘

I did have some idea of what the tragedy had done to me but when I saw myself I felt extremely hurt. I was so scared of myself that I cried the whole night. ‘I am hoping to get further surgeries as soon as possible. Doctors say I need at least four more surgeries.’



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