February 14: For 25-year-old acid attack victim, Pramodini, this was the perfect Valentine's Day as she and her long time friend Saroj Sahu, who stood by her in the most trying of times, got engaged on Wednesday.
Way back in 2009, in Odisha's Jagatpur, a young Pramodini not only suffered 80 per cent burns but even lost her eyesight when a spurned lover attacked her with acid.
Overcoming the physical and the emotional trauma was an arduous task. But Sahu's undithering support helped heal her emotional scars while medical treatment helped her gain 20 per cent eyesight.
"I was critically injured in the attack on that fateful day when I was returning from college after appearing in an examination .... I had to be taken home from the government hospital where I was admitted after nine months as the family had no funds for treatment,' Pramodini told PTI.
After having spent five years in bed, Pramodini was admitted to a private hospital near her house in 2014 where she was introduced to Sahu, a medical representative by profession, through a nurse who brought him to see the problems the young girl was going through. Sahu, took it upon himself to help Pramodini get on feet. And she did it, in four months, when senior doctors had declared it would take at least ten months.
"He even quit his job to stand by me during those trying times," Pramodini recalled. Pramodini, vividly remembers that it was on January 5, 2016 that she came to Delhi for proper medical treatment on after getting in touch with the 'Stop Acid Attack Campaign'.
Meanwhile, her departure made Sahu realise the meaning she had brought to his life. Days later, he called her and proposed marriage.
"She was only a dear friend till then, but when she left Odisha, I found what she meant to me. And on January 14, I confessed my feelings for her on phone and proposed to marry her," Sahu said. But it was not a proposal that Pramodini found easy to accept. She felt her lack of eyesight and physical challenges would not allow them lead a normal life.
"But, on his persistence, I underwent eye treatment and today I have 20 per cent eyesight," she said. And with dreams of togetherness in their eyes, both Pramodini and Sahu, who is 26 now, took their first step towards making their bond a lifelong one at the 'Sheroes Hangout Cafe' here, which is run by the "Stop Acid Attack Campaign.
The Cafe's convenor, Alok Dixit, who made all preparations for the engagement, hoped the two will tie the knot next year on the same day. As for their future plans, Pramodini and Sahu say they want to return to Odisha after the wedding and run a 'Sheroes Cafe" there to give employment to acid attack victims like the one here.