When Jayaprakash was a teen living in India, a beautiful young girl, Sunitha, caught his attention at school. As he shared in a post on the Facebook page Being You, it was love at first sight:
2004. I was 17 when I saw a new girl walk past my classroom. I couldn’t stop staring. I had never seen anyone like her.
On her own post at Being You, Sunitha admitted she knew her good looks were the cause of envy of both boys and girls her age:
I was the girl everyone was jealous of back then. I had boyfriends, guys would want my attention, and I knew I was pretty.
Jayaprakash explained the two eventually became friends, but it was difficult for the teen to see Sunitha pay attention to anyone else. As a result, Jayaprakash stopped talking to his crush and the two fell out of touch. Jayaprakash eventually went to college and Sunitha moved away to Bangalore for work.
The young acquaintances briefly reconnected three years later, but once again lost touch. Then, in 2011, Jayaprakash received a life-altering phone call. Sunitha had been in a terrible car accident.
Sunitha had been riding in the back seat of a friend’s car with the window down when the car crashed into a divider. Sunitha had been sleeping with headphones in when she was jarred awake by the crash:
I could feel my friend’s tears on my arm as he begged me not to die on him. 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 [median].
Friends begged the paramedics to take her to the hospital, bribing the ambulance driver with whatever they had, including the gold chain from Sunitha’s purse. At the hospital, the extent of Sunitha’s injuries became apparent. Sunitha continued:
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.
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, on a reflection on the elevator doors, I was disappointed and then scared. There was a big, crooked face with a hole in the middle staring back at me.
After learning of the accident, Jayaprakash made arrangements to visit her in the hospital. Nothing prepared him for the condition of his teenage crush:
When I went to visit, I saw a person with no hair, a disfigured face, no nose, no mouth and no teeth, walking like a 90-year-old. I was stunned. I broke down.
But Jayaprakash also had an epiphany:
“That moment, I realised that I love her.”
That very evening after leaving the hospital, Jayaprakash texted the girl of his dreams and proposed. “I am the only person who can take care of you,” he told her, “I love you. Let’s get married.”
Sunitha laughed, but she didn’t say no.
Over the next year, Jayaprakash stayed by Sunitha’s side as she recovered, which would go on to include 27 surgeries. Sunitha shared:
Between 2011 and 2014, I had twenty-seven surgeries. Today, I don’t have taste senses or tear glands. I cannot smell anything more than shots. I cannot chew food or close my mouth.
For Jayaprakash, though Sunitha had shrugged off his marriage proposal, tending to her in the hospital marked the start of the rest of their lives together: “We started knowing life as it is together and we had our ups and downs but we always got past them,” he said.
In 2014, during another trip to visit Sunitha, Jayaprakash was met with a surprise at the train station. Sunitha stood there with three roses in hand, this time proposing marriage on her own terms. Finally engaged, the couple could plan their lives together.
But the relationship wasn’t without challenges as Jayaprakash explained:
There were people who questioned why we needed a wedding now. They even asked her not to have babies because they’d have her face. People still look at her with pity and think I did a big thing by marrying her. The reality is, I married the love of my life and my life changed for the better. Today, we have two kids and wonderful mornings to wake up together.
Sunitha said she and her fiancé “laughed off” anyone who criticized their union:
To him, my accident, my surgeries, my tough childhood, nothing mattered.
Today, I am married to my teenage crush. She became my love. Love isn’t about a face or imposed conditions or external beauty. It is a connection of souls. It feels right. All I know is that I love her to the moon and back, infinity and beyond, forever.
Jayaprakash finally got the girl years after he first laid eyes on her. And, as they say, the rest is history.