Life takes unpredictable turns and it is times like this that change everything forever. Sunitha Atinus had a taste of life’s uncertainty back in 2011. While she was on her way back home to Coimbatore, she met with a horrific accident that completely disfigured her face.

Coming from humble beginnings, Atinus left home to move to Bangalore after class 12 in hopes of making a better life for herself. She might not have had it all but she took pride in her looks. “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 says. One day, she was travelling from Bangalore to Coimbatore in a car with her friends. She was fast asleep with her window down and her earphones plugged in which is when she awoke to a loud crash. She saw her friend begging her not to die in his arms. “Later, they told me that my hair got badly entangled, and my face was out of the window as the car toppled thrice after hitting the divider,” she said.

“I was wheeled into the OT directly close to midnight. 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 eye ball in the cheek, the doctors carefully placed it back. I was fed with 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.”

Mirrors were removed from her surroundings to keep her from looking at her face. But when she chanced upon her face in a reflection in the elevator door once, she was “disappointed and then scared”. “There was a big, crooked face with a hole in the middle staring back at me.” Following twenty-seven surgeries, she found herself without tastebuds or tear glands. “Between 2011 and 2014, I had twenty-seven surgeries.

“The journey taught me a lot about relationships. My sister stood by me like a pillar and there were friends who became family to ensure that I’ll be able to put a face to my voice. But there were also people who left, some who were broken, some who didn’t have the guts to see me.”

Once she was recuperated, she learnt to deal with the mental trauma. She and her friends would often joke about her appearance.

“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?’ I am told that I am blessed and I am a Miracle. Miracles have a way of making you want to give more back. They are what make the world go ‘round.”

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