It’s 2011 and Indian woman Sunitha Atinus lies badly injured in a hospital bed, her face damaged beyond recognition. When her boyfriend Jai Prakash walks into the room, he can scarcely believe what he’s looking at. Heartbroken, tears overcome him, and all he can do is run from Sunitha’s bedside. What hope is there now for the young couple?
Now Jai cuts a dashing figure. Indeed, good looking, with a ready smile, Jai’s home is in Bangalore, southern India. And he’s a quietly spoken man, whose Facebook page speaks of his “passion to make [a] difference.” Furthermore, while Jai might be a catch for any woman, when he was younger, there was only one girl for him.
Yes, the girl in question was Sunitha Atinus, a pretty teen who had not let a hard childhood dent her self-confidence. Indeed, she had grown willing to fight to free herself from the constraints of her upbringing. What’s more, it would take a great deal to bring this spirited youngster down, even though life would certainly try.
When Jai met Sunitha, they were both students at the same high school in Coimbatore. Now it’s the second-largest city in Tamil Nadu state in southern India, and one of the biggest in the country. And when Jai first clapped eyes on the young Sunitha, it’s fair to say that he liked what he saw.
As Jai would describe in a Facebook videopost, “I don’t know why I was looking at her.” In fact, Sunitha had turned up late for class, and she probably turned a few heads when taking her seat. And Jai himself could not take his eyes off her. Furthermore, the next day, she said hi to him.
And from that moment, their friendship would develop. For you see, nothing could keep the pair apart, and they spent a whole heap of time in each other’s company. But although they were obviously becoming close friends, Jai’s true feelings remained a mystery to Sunitha. Somewhat stupidly, it’s not as if he had made them known, either.
As Sunitha explained in the Facebook video, titled Atmia, “We shared lessons together, food together, everything together, just that I didn’t know the feelings he had for me.” So once high school was done, it must have seemed as though the chance of romance had vanished. Yes, it did seem that way.
For the two drifted apart for some years after graduation. But their story was not finished there. Firstly, they found each other on social media, and rekindled their friendship. Secondly, Sunitha phoned to wish Jai a happy birthday. But of course he hadn’t heard her voice for some time, so he struggled to think who it might be.
Funnily enough, Sunitha said hello twice, and Jai still couldn’t figure out who it was on the end of the line. But when she asked him to take a swing at her identity, he twigged it at last. After that call, the two arranged a meet-up. What’s more, sparks flew, and the dear friendship that they had before began to develop into love.
Sunitha was quite the catch, though, and Jai had plenty of competition. As she explained to Facebook page “Being You” in 2017, “I was the girl everyone was jealous of back then. I had boyfriends, guys would want my attention, and I knew I was pretty.” Heartbreakingly, however, her appearance would be changed forever on one summer’s day.
By this time, Sunitha’s working life was based in Bangalore, the large, busy city in Karnataka state. And on August 27, 2011, she was at the end of her tether. For she had had a simply exhausting week and decided to go back home to her family in Coimbatore. There, she could spend some time relaxing with her mom, perhaps.
So Sunitha hopped into the back of her friend’s car for the journey to Coimbatore. All tired out, she took a nap in the Maruti 800 which had embarked on an almost seven-hour trip. In fact, she’d drifted off with her earphones in and a fresh breeze coming through the open window beside her.
But suddenly, a loud bang awoke Sunitha and she felt the car rolling over to its left. You see, the vehicle had crashed into the central reservation and flipped over three times. In fact, it screeched across the road before eventually coming to a stop. And the mishap would have dreadful consequences for the young Indian woman.
Indeed, Sunitha had found herself thrown halfway out of the window as the Maruti 800 slid down the road. In actuality, it meant that her face had been partially dragged across the carriageway for a distance. Luckily for her, the damage to her face would be the only injury that she would suffer. But it would be devastating nonetheless, as we’ll soon find out.
Now one of Sunitha’s friends, who had been in the car with her, feared she would die. As the Indian went on to explain on Facebook, “After that, I felt my friend’s tears on my arm as he begged me not to die on him.” Subsequently, it emerged that her hair had become tangled up, pulling her face towards the road’s surface as the vehicle moved.
Furthermore, and devastatingly, it left Sunitha’s face badly disfigured. As she explained to The Logical Indian, “There was nothing left of my face. It took over two weeks to just clean the skin up. During one of the cleaning process[es], they found my left eyeball in the cheek; the doctors carefully placed it back.”
Worse still, tubes were needed to keep Sunitha alive and fed, since her broken jaw incapacitated her. Sadly, she had only a single tooth left, while her upper jawbone was completely shattered. In fact, she later used dentures to restore her smile. Unbelievably, to keep her from touching her own face, hospital staff also kept Sunitha’s hands strapped to her bed. But there was more.
Yes, trying to spare Sunitha the pain of seeing herself too soon, nurses took all mirrors out of her room. And when she did catch sight of herself in the doors of an elevator, she became saddened and scared. Of course, it would take all of her strength to recover from the shock. Furthermore, her recovery would turn out to be a long and daunting process.
That’s right, because for three years Sunitha had to endure a series of operations, 27 in total. And even now, chewing is impossible, and food is tasteless to her. Indeed, she no longer has a sense of smell which has spoiled her mealtimes. Worse still, she cannot even shed a tear, since her tear glands no longer work.
After Sunitha had been discharged from hospital, she headed back to Coimbatore for a while. But Bangalore soon lured her back. Although she was no longer an inpatient at hospital, she still had to go back for surgery now and again. And it was while she was in hospital that she had a special visitor.
Yes, when Jai eventually heard the news that Sunitha had been in an accident, he went straight to the hospital. As he explained to The Logical Indian, “When she met with an accident, I thought it might be a simple fracture or some kind of scratch.” Of course, he was in for a surprise.
For when Jai entered the hospital room, his first thought was whether he had the right patient. Surely this couldn’t be his Sunitha? For you see, he couldn’t even begin to recognize her. Indeed, she was completely disfigured on account of the accident. And seeing her took a toll on him emotionally.
You’ve guessed it, Jai broke into tears as he realized the extent of injuries Sunitha had suffered. And seeing his despair had an effect on Sunitha in turn. When she spoke to comfort him, though, he knew that it really was her: her voice was unmistakable. As she explained to The Logical Indian, “I could see his tears rolling down and I felt bad for him.”
Moreover, the moment left Sunitha equally heartbroken. At the time, there were a few people she wished hadn’t come to visit her in hospital, and Jai was one. What’s more, she was distraught to see him in agony over her condition. So when he turned to leave her hospital room, perhaps she thought that she would never see him again.
And when Jai got back home, he felt plunged into turmoil. For he put his feelings under the microscope, sleep deserted him, and he constantly thought about Sunitha. And the more he thought about it, the more he became convinced of his feelings for his beloved girlfriend. With that in mind, there was only one thing to do.
Yes, Jai concluded that there was no way that he could desert his love. As he explained to The Logical Indian, “My feelings towards her hadn’t changed. I knew she was the girl for me.” Once he had decided that, he went a step further. That’s right, he resolved to ask Sunitha to marry him.
So the very next day, Jai returned to the hospital, this time on a mission. And straight away, he asked Sunitha to marry him. Now, funnily enough, she was so stunned that she broke into laughter. Surely this was a joke? But Jai reassured her that he was deadly serious, “I’m in love with you,” he said.
Now Sunitha had something that she in turn had to think about. Yes, because the main thing on her mind had been recovering from a series of infections, and generally trying to recover. But the two traded messages and calls, and Jai told her how much he wanted her in his life.
After all that, Jai’s message met with a willing recipient. For you see, Sunitha felt that she really needed support to work on her recovery. And far from deserting her as she might have feared, he was willing to be by her side for life. Furthermore, Sunitha could now see Jai as her husband, given the time and love they’d shared together.
So one night Jai came to Sunitha’s home in the early hours. And actually, his beloved girlfriend was waiting on the terrace for him. There, she handed him three roses and said yes, she would marry him. She told The Logical Indian, “I was the happiest woman on Earth that day.”
However, not everyone thought that the youngsters getting married was a great idea. For instance, family members ignorantly told the couple that they shouldn’t have children because the little ones might resemble Sunitha. But the lovebirds refused to listen to them. Actually, Sunitha told The Logical Indian that they had laughed it off.
As the new wife went on to explain, “Initially I was annoyed, frustrated, even angry. Why did I deserve this? Was this Karma? But I didn’t hurt anyone; all I had wanted was a better life. But I didn’t want Life to laugh at me. So I looked at it in the eye and said ‘I’ve survived. Now what?’” Well, actually what happened next was good news.
For as it turned out, the two had a trip back to the hospital. But there was no further surgery for Sunitha on this occasion. No, this time she was taken into the delivery room to welcome her first child. And Jai lived every moment of it alongside her. As Sunitha explained, “He was as excited and as painful and as strong as I was, holding my hands.”
Of course, the face of the little girl that Sunitha gave birth to was entirely normal. And her happy parents gave her the name Atmia. In Hindu, this translates as “my soul.” And when a video was put together about the couple’s story, it seemed a more than suitable name for that too.
Touchingly, the reception that Atmia the video has had, has been incredible. Yes, almost two-and-a-half million viewers have enjoyed the story of love’s triumph for Jai and Sunitha. What’s more, the video has been seen many more times as it has gone viral on other websites worldwide. For it seems that an awful lot of people just love a tale about love conquering adversity.
Furthermore, the video has had an overwhelmingly positive reception, with 43,000 users sharing it and more than 2,100 leaving a comment. For example, one user gushed, “Touching. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story of love. The baby girl is such a cutiepie. True love exists.” While another wrote, “Many people allow obstacles to diminish their love, but there are no obstacles to true love as these two loving people have shown us.”
And these people weren’t alone in hailing the video as an example of real love. For another user said, “Very beautiful … True love becomes stronger with difficulties. Only those who love understand the dynamics of this video. We love truly forever.” Indeed, the video’s tagline seems justified: “You don’t need a reason to love someone. No reason can change your love for someone.”
With a second child joining Atmia, Sunitha has now put the accident firmly behind her. And she can now focus on her job as a mom, while not letting anything get in the way of her enjoying life. Oddly, this includes her own family’s occasional hurtful words. “It was funny and annoying when my grandmother and a few other mothers thought my baby could be disfigured when born,” Sunitha told the Mums and Stories website. “I’m not sure what ran [through] their head.”
As she continued to explain to the website, “Atmia thinks I am the most gorgeous woman she [has] ever met.” And at the same time, her infant son Atmik just can’t tear his eyes away from his mom, either. As for Jai, he credits Sunitha’s willingness to meet life head-on for keeping her afloat during the hard times.
However, Sunitha does have her down days, “There are days when I feel sad why this had to happen to me but I get over those emotions.” And she doesn’t let stares intimidate her, either. After all, she has a face that her family finds beautiful. Yes, and it all started with an approach from her boyfriend-turned-husband, Jai. “To him, my accident, my surgeries, my tough childhood, nothing mattered,” she said.