We all know the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s all about taking something negative and making something positive come out of it. How about when life gives you acid in the face? Literally?
That’s what happened to Aarti Thakur and Prashant Pingle, who were both severely injured in separate brutal attacks. Aarti was on her way to work. Prashant was defending his sister. The acid affected not just their physical bodies, but every part of their lives. They had no idea that the event that changed their lives forever would one day lead them to each other.
A Brutal Attack
Twenty-two year old Aarti Thakur was on her way to work on January 31, 2012, when she was brutally attacked for the third time in under two months by her landlord’s son. She still had 15 stitches from where he had recently stabbed her. You won’t believe what prompted these attacks.
A Man Scorned
Aarti had recently rejected a marriage proposal by her landlord’s son, because she was already engaged to be married to a man she had known for five years. Furious, he and three other people attacked her that day at the train station by throwing a bottle of acid at her face.
A Life Changed Forever
The incident changed her life. The man she intended to marry left her heartbroken a few months later, refusing to see her. She struggled for years with fear and depression. She began to reconnect by volunteering with an organization that supports the survivors of acid attacks. As fate would have it, that’s how her life would change once again.
A Brothers Love
In October 2015, Prashant Pingle and his brother in law confronted a man that had been stalking his sister, warning him that they would file police charges if he didn’t leave her alone. The argument escalated, and the man threw acid at Prashant’s sister. What Prashant did next was incredible.
A Hero Is Born
He jumped in front of his sister, shielding her from most of the acid and taking the full impact himself. Prashant suffered burns on over fifty percent of his body. Like Aarti, his partner left him shortly after he was assaulted. He had no idea that his soul mate was out still out there waiting for him.
Love At First Sight
In November 2016, Aarti was invited by the Human Rights Law Network to speak at an event in Mumbai. Prashant was attending the event and was immediately infatuated with the young lady in black jeans, pink top with a large scar on her neck. “Call it love, attraction, being in awe of her… I could see that she wanted to fight on, that she was not ready to give up. I was drawn to her,” he said.
Prashant asked a mutual friend for Aarti’s number but approached her only as a friend at first. As Aarti, herself said, “I was not at all ready to accept or trust someone.” They became good friends and talked constantly, but Prashant wanted more. He was in love. Did Aarti feel the same?
Take A Chance
At a loss as to how to reveal his feelings to Aarti, Prashant once again asked for a little help from their common friends. They helped him communicate his feelings, and they soon had their first date in January on Mumbai’s Juhu beach. It was there, wading in the Arabian Sea, that Prashant proposed. Would she say yes?
Love On The Rocks
Aarti was caught completely by surprise, so she said she would need time to think about it. The trauma of her assault was still taking its toll. “I was still angry and bitter at the world,” she said, noting that it did help that Prashant understood because he had been through a similar experience.
Love Conquers All
Aarti accepted Prashant’s proposal in March when the two spent the day together during the “Confidence Walk” for acid attack victims. “The fact that he risked his own life for the sake of his sister is amazing. He is honest, and for the first time after the attack, I began thinking about getting married and having children,” Aarti said.
The happy couple is now planning their wedding for this June and says their families couldn’t be more thrilled. During the “Confidence Walk” in March, Aarti’s mother Seema told her that a real-life hero such as Prashant would be an ideal life partner. “I will never forgive the attackers but with Prashant by my side, I have learned to smile again,” said Aarti, who still requires further surgery for her injuries.
Both Aarti and Prashant’s attackers are currently out on bail as their cases proceed through the court system, but the couple is determined to see justice and will continue their work with acid attack survivors. “I don’t want to be called a victim all my life,” Aarti said. “If I want to change the situation, nobody else can make it happen for me.”