Renowned Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu had once said that "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage". It seems that the love story of Pramodini Roul (25) and Saroj Sahoo (26) is quite an example of both strength and courage.
Promodini and Saroj are not like any other regular couple. Rather, they are special and their story truly inspires.
Pramodini’s parents loved to call her Rani and she was really treated like a queen by everyone, till one day when her destiny took an ugly turn. In 2009, when she was just 16, a soldier of Indian army attacked Pramodini with acid - the reason, his love wasn’t reciprocated by the young girl.
The attack not just left her disfigured, she turned completely blind. She went through various stages of operation and was even bed-ridden for four years. During one of her facial reconstructive surgeries for which doctors used skin from her legs for grafting, she was discharged without proper treatment which caused infection in her legs.
It was during her treatment, she met Saroj who happened to be a friend of her nurse. Saroj who was shocked to learn the story of Rani and seeing the agony of her mother started regularly visiting them in the hospital.
Though initially they never talked but gradually a strong friendship developed between them which even made her nurse jealous. "Lying on the hospital bed, I used to feel frustrated. When Saroj started visiting, a strong bond developed between us. He used to motivate and encourage me to think positive that one day everything will be fine. Seeing our friendship my nurse became so jealous that one day while dressing the wounds she lifted my leg so high that I started crying out in pain. A surprised Saroj slapped her. This made her so furious, she said that I will never be able to walk again. Saroj challenged her and said within four months, he would make me walk," says Pramodini aka Rani.
Saroj left his job to dedicate his time to Rani and help her go through all the physiotherapy sessions. "I was in bed for four years due to which my muscles were very weak. I could not stand at all but then Saroj taught me to walk step by step. He used to spend hours for my physiotherapy. He used to make me stand on his leg and then walk," said Rani.
"I only wanted to see her walk as I could not see her being confined to that hospital bed. I didn't like the way the nurse treated her and I became emotional. When she challenged that Rani would never be able to walk again, I just wanted her to be proved wrong " shared Saroj.
An Odissi dancer, Rani used to teach dance to kids but after that incident her only desire was to walk again. "I used to love dancing but lying on that hospital bed, I had lost all hopes to walk again. But Saroj was always positive. Today if I am walking it’s all because of him only," said Rani.
Though now they have confessed about their feelings to each other, it was not easy for them. Saroj's parents were against their friendship as he had left his job and was spending lots of time in the hospital. Sharing about her dilemma of breaking her friendship with Saroj, Rani said, "He never told me that his parents were against our friendship. He had lots of responsibilities towards his family but he was devoting his time for my well-being. When his parents approached me to let him go, I became very sad as I was being asked to let go that one person who brings smile on my face.
Without letting Saroj know, I decided to live in an ashram far away from everyone and made all the arrangements. Just five days before my departure, Saroj came to know about my plans and requested me not to go. But I had made up my mind."
It was in 2016 that Saroj confessed his love for Rani.
Recently, Rani has undergone an eye operation due to which she is able to see through one eye today. She is undergoing constant treatment and is also planning to go for further skin, eye and ear operation. Funds were raised for her treatment which also helped in the operation of two other two acid attack victims.
However, Saroj is very disappointed with the fact that Rani is yet to get justice and her case is moving at snail’s pace. "It’s been eight years and that culprit is still at large. Recently the case was reopened and police had collected all the evidence. We were assured that the culprit will soon get arrested but nothing happened. Even the state government is not helping us. Now the case has been handed over to CBI Department who will take the investigation forward."
But the two haven’t given up hope. Their only message to the society is that each and every individual has the right to be happy and therefore if a girl becomes a victim of acid attack, people in the society should not treat her as unwanted.
Rani who is presently associated with Sheroes in Agra, wants to open a branch in Odisha. "There are many victims like me in Odisha and I want to bring them together and start Sheroes branch here to help them. But unfortunately, it seems that from Odisha, I am the only one who has raised the voice against the injustice. I would request all such victims to come forward and be a part of our initiative"