An Indian woman who suffered horrific burns to her face and lost vision in both the eyes in an acid attack by scorned admirer has found the love of her life from her hospital bed.
Pramodini Roul, was just 15 years old when a bike-borne paramilitary soldier threw acid on her face, melting it away completely and blinding both her eyes because she had rejected his marriage proposal.
Now 25, the survivor, who is lovingly called Rani or "queen" by her family, was returning from taking an exam with her cousin when the 28-year-old man doused her with the corrosive element.
Rani spent four months in ICU immediately after the incident and later was bedridden for four years at her house in Odisha in eastern India while her widowed mother took care of her alone, bandaging her wounds.
After suffering pain for almost a decade, undergoing five reconstructive surgeries including one to correct vision in her left eye by some degree, and reeling under depression throughout these years, Rani says she has her boyfriend Saroj Kumar Sahoo has given her a reason to live happily.
The two met while Rani was in hospital and have been living together for a year in New Delhi and are now planning to get married.
Rani says: "Saroj really treats me like a queen. He loves me like the way I am. He always encourages me to live life happily.
"He has become a part of me. I would not have been able to see the world today if I did not have him in my life.
"I feel very lucky to have him. He is very understanding and is always there for me. It always feels good to be loved and be assured of having a partner who loves and recognizes the goodness in you."
Rani and Saroj met in March 2014 at a private hospital where she was admitted for the treatment for the pus-filled infection that had ravaged her legs.
The skin from her legs was used for grafting but untimely discharge from the hospital caused infection in her half treated wounds that began secreting pus.
Doctors told her mother Rani would need at least four years before she can walk again.
Saroj was a friend of the nurse who was looking after Rani and was on a regular visit when he saw Rani's mother crying helplessly and extended his support.
Rani said: "We met in March 2014 when he had come with his friends to visit the hospital. 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.
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"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 even 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."
The 26-year-old started visiting Rani everyday to boost her morale. He eventually quit his job and spent eight hours a day to look after Rani.
She said: "He was extremely caring and looked after my needs. 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. 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."
Rani had not seen Saroj until this September when she had undergone the first surgery in left eye. Yet she says she had fallen for his charms.
While Rani and Saroj have been accepted by their families, the two are waiting to get further reconstructive surgeries before they take the plunge.
Rani's neck has started bending as the skin in her backbone had completely melted. She still further surges for her eyes as she is only able to see a little and needs plastic surgeries on her head as a major portion of skin is missing.
She needs about four more operations, but surgeries are expensive and Rani's mother has exhausted all her savings in the previous surgeries.
"My mother could not arrange money for my treatment and we had to stop it midway. The delay has caused several complications and need to be addressed soon."
As in most of the acid attack cases in India, the perpetrator Santosh Kumar Bedant in Rani's case was also let off because the police were bribed. He even offered to marry Rani after the attack and called her until 2013.
He is a married man with a son and there is no case against him that Rani can pursue.
"I am still waiting for the day when the attacker would be arrested and put behind the bars," she said.
"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.
"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."