Acid attack victim Sonali Mukherjee-Tewary finds love and happiness.
Sonali Mukherjee-Tewary plunged into despair after being blinded and left disfigured in a horrific acid attack. Then a stranger contacted her, offering to pay for surgery, and over a series of phone calls he made her realise she could be happy again
Moving my fingers across my face, I tried to fix a bindi as best as I could between my non-existent eyebrows. Then I gently brushed my cheek and felt the curve of my lips. I was trying to imagine what I must look like, to imagine the face my soon-to-be-husband would gaze into as he said his vows.
In just a few hours I would be getting married. I’ll be honest, it was a day I thought I’d never have. I believed I’d be alone forever and that no one would ever be able to love me after I’d been blinded and my face was destroyed in an acid attack.
But Chitranjan Tewary got in touch after seeing me on a television show two years ago discussing the 2003 attack and asked my brother Debashish if he could talk to me.
‘You are a very strong and brave woman,’ he told me. We spoke every day for a year after that and eventually he said, ‘To me, you are the most beautiful woman in the world. Will you marry me?’
So on April 15 this year, 12 years after the horrifying incident, I became his wife during an intimate court marriage followed by a Mitra, 22, who was married, his friend Sanjay Paswan, 20, and a juvenile used to hang around near my college and pass rude and lewd remarks at me. One day, they made a very offensive comment and when I threatened to tell the police, they laughed at me. I complained to my father about it and he marched over to them the next day and demanded that they stay away from
Iwoke up eight days later and eventually learnt I had suffered 80 per cent burns, lost my eyesight, hearing in my left ear and had severe burns on my chest and hands. Sneha, who was sleeping by my side, suffered burns but luckily they weren’t as serious as mine.
The three who attacked me were arrested and charged. The adults were convicted and feel the flesh from my face just melt and drop away. ‘I’m on fire!’ I remember yelling. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear my sister and mother crying for help. Then I felt myself being lifted. I was in my father Chandidas Mukherjee’s arms and was being rushed to hospital. ‘Mother help me, I’m dying!’ I screamed before I fell unconscious. party with 300 of our family and friends.
He has helped me to realise I can be happy following that nightmare attack. Even now I still have flashbacks. As I told Friday in August, 2013, I was just 17 when three men splashed a jug of acid on my face in revenge for spurning their advances. It was terrifying that such a thing could happen – just because they said I was arrogant and turned down their lewd advances.
I was a good student and was hoping to earn a degree in psychology and become a psychologist when I first noticed them. For several weeks the two local men, Tapas me. I guess the men didn’t like anyone standing up to them so they decided to ruin my life forever.
On April 22, 2003, my parents and my sister Sneha, who was 10 at the time, and I were sleeping on the terrace of our one-storey house in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, because it was too hot and humid indoors, when they broke into my house and splashed a cocktail of acids on my face.
I can still remember how I was suddenly awake, wondering why someone had poured scalding-hot water on my face. Then within seconds, I realised it wasn’t water as I could jailed for nine years but were released on bail after just three years in jail. The juvenile was released immediately without charge.
Over the next 12 years, I had 28 reconstructive surgeries and was in agony for months after. Doctors took skin from my thighs to graft on to my nose and cheeks so I would have a semblance of a face.
My father, a security guard in a local company, had to sell all the land he owned and my mother’s jewellery to fund my treatment and pay for the lawyer fighting my case. To date we must have spent over Rs2 million (Dh115,240). Despite
I can remember how I was suddenly AWAKE, wondering why someone had poured SCALDING-HOT water on my face. Within SECONDS I realised it wasn’t water as I felt the FLESH from my face MELT away
My parents with me and my new husband; it was such a special day. My brother, Debashish, below, helped to bring us together
The attack might have scarred me but it didn’t kill my spirit. Going on Kaun Banega Crorepati with Amitabh Bachchan and Lara Dutta changed my life