In India, it is common for women to have acid thrown at their faces in an act of revenge or disdain from men in the community. Acid attacks are violent assaults that are intended to disfigure, maim, torture, or even kill the victim. It is estimated that there are over 1,000 acid attacks in India every year, and many go unreported.
Lalita Ben Bansi is an acid attack survivor. In 2012, when she was only 21 years old, she visited her home town of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh for her cousin’s wedding. At the wedding, her brother and cousin got into an argument. Bansi stepped in and slapped both of them to get them to stop, which they did. Bansi was engaged at the time, to be married five months later, so she stayed in Azamgarh to prepare for her wedding.
Fifteen days before it took place, her cousin threw acid on her face in revenge for humiliating him. Her wedding was obviously called off, and the course of her entire life shifted dramatically. Her face is now disfigured, her ears deformed, and she has lost an eye. She also can no longer grow hair on one side of her head. She has gone through 17 surgeries and will be undergoing another 12 in the coming months.
Now she is 26 years old and in love!
It all started when she dialed a wrong number and left a voicemail. Ravi Shankar Singh, a CCTV company employee, received the message and was so intrigued by the sound of Bansi’s voice that he called her back. They ended up speaking on the phone every day!
The anonymity of the phone call allowed Singh to fall in love with Bansi’s true self, rather than first judging her for her appearance.
“We spoke and I fell in love with her voice. Our conversations continued on a daily basis, and in the process I proposed to her,” says Singh. “Many couples fall in love with their partners face and eventually get divorced. With her, I am not concerned about her face. She is a sweet person. I wish God blessed us for a lifetime.”
Their wedding was on May 23, and Bansi could not be happier.
“Who would have thought an acid attack and 17 surgeries later I would find love,” she says.
The wedding was organized by the Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation, of which Bansi is a member. The organization found support from many sponsors when planning the event, especially from actor and activist Vivek Oberoi who calls Bansi a “true hero.” Oberoi met Bansi at an event for acid attack survivors, and attended their wedding along with many other celebrities. He admires Bansi so much that he has decided to pay for her future surgeries!
It is in the moments in our lives when we have lost all hope that we find something magical to lift us up and prove that we deserve better. Singh was that magical something that taught Bansi to believe in love and in herself, and it all started with a mistaken phone call.
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