On the 27th of August, 2011, Sunitha was travelling to Coimbatore from Bengaluru in a car with her friends. She was asleep in the back seat of the Maruti 800, her earphones plugged in with the window down when she was woken up with a loud crash.
“After that, I felt my friend’s tears on my arm as he begged me not to die on him. Later, I found out that my hair got badly entangled, and my face was out of the window as the car toppled thrice after hitting the divider.”
Sunitha Atinus, a young physiotherapist, suffered multiple injuries in a nightmarish crash; the most prominent of them being on her face. Her life, unsurprisingly, was turned upside down after this. But despite the trials of these injuries, Sunitha’s resolve to live a normal and enjoyable life is steadfast.
In a moving post on Being You’s Facebook page, she writes about how the crash changed her life.
“I was the girl everyone was jealous off back then. I had boyfriends, guys would want my attention, and I knew I was pretty,” she writes.
But after the accident, she recalls, “There was nothing left of my face. It took over two weeks to just clean the skin up. During one of the cleaning process, they found my left eyeball in the cheek; the doctors carefully placed it back. I was fed through a tube and had another to help me breathe. They used to keep my hands tied to my bed, so I didn’t feel my face. My lower jaw was broken in five places, and my upper jaw was completely smashed. I had only one tooth. They drilled dentures into my mouth.
For the longest time, mirrors were removed from my room so I would not see my face. The first time I caught a glimpse of myself was a reflection on the elevator doors, I was disappointed and then scared.”
What she saw was, “ a big, crooked face with a hole in the middle staring back at me.”
Over the next three years, Sunitha had to have 27 surgeries. Today, she cannot taste the food, has lost her sense of smell, her tear glands aren’t functional and she is unable to chew either.
The accident and its consequences taught her about the relationships in her life. Her sister was her rock, and while some friends left, there were those became family and helped her “put a face to my voice.”
As a young woman, the future looked terribly uncertain to Sunitha, but life no matter how cruel had ways of pleasantly surprising her.
“Post-discharge, I moved to Tamil Nadu but soon came back home to Bangalore. It was then that a boy who had a crush on me since we were 17 met me and proposed. After January 2012, he has been with me for all my surgeries. To him, my accident, my surgeries, my tough childhood, nothing mattered. We got married in 2014. “
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Ignorant people shoot their mouths off, telling the couple not to have children because they would have Sunitha’s face, but they know better to take such twaddle to heart. Instead, they laugh it off, she writes.
She ends by saying, “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?”