Sonali Mukherjee has managed to smile after nearly 10 years. After 20 surgeries and skin regeneration, the 28- year-old acid attack victim can use her facial muscles to some extent.
The smile came after she walked the ramp for the India International Jewellery Week (IIJW) in the city on Sunday.
“I want to set an example for others like me. We need to fight and resurface from the horrifying incident. The pain and trauma that we have gone through needs to be heard,” said Mukherjee, who was attacked by three boys whose advances she had refused.
Her father, who could barely afford to pay the rent of their temporary apartment in Delhi, her mother, who went into depression after the incident, her brother who lost out on a job, all prompted Sonali to approach the government for euthanasia last year. “I was shunned by society, family and friends. I wanted the trauma to end,” she said.
However, this move caught the attention of Beti, an NGO founded by Anu Ranjan, which immediately provided her assistance. “They gave Rs12 lakh rupees to the hospital for my surgeries,” said Mukherjee.
Her medical restrictions range from not sneezing to not sweating, making things further difficult. “I have to suppress a sneeze. My father has put an AC in my room, which he can barely afford, since I am not supposed to sweat and let the skin heal. The government had announced help of Rs3 lakh to victims, but till date my medication and surgeries has gone above Rs. 30 lakh.” she said.
An inspiration for many like her, Mukherjee, who was a sociology student in Dhanbad before the attack, continues to be tutored at home.
“The ramp walk was a unique experience for me and gave me the opportunity to tell my story to the world, on stage,” she said.