Love can be found in strange circumstances, Prashant Pingale and Aarti Thakur can testify to that. Unfortunately, the events that led up to their unexpected love were tragic indeed.
Aarti Thakur’s story
On January 31, 2012, Aarti Thakur was waiting for a train in Goregaon, India, when she noticed a man running toward her. He doused her with a liquid and then ran way. Thakur felt instant, excruciating pain as soon as the liquid touched her skin. She was taken to a hospital and was told she had been a victim of an acid attack.
This was the third attack she had suffered during the past two months, including another where she was brutally stabbed.
None of the attacks were random. In fact, each assault was ordered and initiated by her landlord’s son.
A few months before, Thankur’s landlord’s son proposed to her, but she turned him down because she was already engaged to a man she had known for five years. Her landlord’s wife and son did not take her rejection lightly, and hired men to disfigure her.
The third attack left Thakur with serious burns and scars on her face, arms and neck. Her fiance broke of their engagement, she lost her job and the government wouldn’t pay for all of her much-needed surgeries, (which she still needs five years after the attacks).
Thankur became so depressed, she didn’t want to live anymore. She lived in fear and felt hopeless about her circumstances.
Prashant Pingale’s story
Pingale’s married sister told him about a man who was stalking her. He decided to confront the man on Oct. 29, 2015 when he, his sister and his brother-in-law approached the suspicious man at a market during the middle of the day.
Pingale asked the man to stop following his sister, but the man refused. Pingale threatened to go to the police.
“You’ll go to the police only if I let you go,” the stalker said. The man then , grabbed some acid from his shop and threw it towards Pingale’s sister. Pingale shielded her and was burned instead.
The man threw more acid at the group, hitting Pingale’s sister and his brother-in-law as well.
Over half of Pingale’s and his sister’s bodies were burned. It took them five hours to find a hospital to treat them.
After the attack, Pingale was also abandoned by his partner whom he had been dating at the time.
Love at first sight
Both Pingale and Thakur regularly attended meetings for acid attack survivors. At one such meeting, Thakur shared her story.
“The moment I saw her, I was in love with her,” Pingale said. “I knew, if ever I had a life partner, it would be her.”
The two continued to meet at various events and formed a strong friendship. Thakur wasn’t looking for romance, but she knew Pingale liked her.
Too shy to approach Thakur himself, Pingale told a mutual friend about his feelings. That friend told Thakur, and confirmed what she already suspected. Finally, Pingale got the courage to ask her out on a date.
Thakur knew she was starting to like Pingale, so she agreed to the date. It was on their first date when he proposed.
Though Thakur first told Pingale she needed some time to think on his offer, she finally said yes on March 5, 2017.
“I don’t feel like life has ended or there’s no brighter side in life. Now, everything is different and it all looks like a new beginning” Thakur said.
The couple plans on getting married in June. Though they still are fighting for justice in the court system, they don’t want their lives to be forever-defined by the acid attacks.
Whatever happens, they are ready to face the future together.