Imagine for a minute being horrifically scarred by acid. The face you once saw in the mirror is changed forever.
Then to add insult to injury, the cruel and evil man who threw acid on you was your own father. This is the reality of a mother and daughter left permanently scarred in a brutal acid attack.
Geeta Mahour, 40, and Neetu, 26, still live with their attacker – because they have nowhere else to live.
They were left horribly disfigured when Inderjeet Mahour, 60, drunkenly poured acid on them as they slept.
He also threw the corrosive substances on his younger daughter Krishna.
She tragically died in the attack in Agra, Uttar Pradesh in India.
After a short prison stint, Inderjeet still lives with the family he set out to destroy and murder.
His wife Geeta was too poor to live alone and was ostracized by her neighbors. She had no choice but to forgive her husband and stay at the family home.
The couple even went on to have a third daughter. Although Inderjeet is mostly civil to Geeta, he still flies into alcohol-fuelled rages, Geeta says.
Speaking in an interview with the Mail Online, Geeta says: ‘Even today when he gets drunk he threatens to kill us.’
‘But nothing bothers me now. I cry every night for the misery we are forced to live but this is our life.’
Inderjeet blinded his daughter Neetu in the attack. But Neetu has never questioned her mother’s decision to stay in the family home. She says she can barely remember what happened.
Neetu was just three years old when her father attacked her, her mother and sister.
At the time of the attack, Geeta had taken her two younger girls to live with her mother. She finally had enough of Inderjeet’s behavior.
She said: ‘My eldest daughter Rekha was at my in-laws house. We were sleeping in the courtyard when he quietly got inside and poured acid on us.’
‘Even though I didn’t see him pour the acid, I knew it was him because he often used to threaten me: ‘don’t mess with me or I’ll ruin your face’.
‘I remember screaming and screaming, my girls screaming and my mother running out. She called the police and we were admitted to hospital for three to four months.’
Geeta reported her husband to the police and he was arrested the following day. But once Geeta and her girls were discharged from hospital, reality set in.
‘I returned to my mother’s house after we were discharged from hospital but my mother had no money,’ Geeta said.
‘My father had died when I was just eight and now my mother had to take care of my younger brother and younger sister as well as me and my daughters. We had no money. My mother and brother worked just to buy us our medicines.’
Sadly, Geeta’s youngest daughter, Krishna, who was just 18 months old at the time, died of infection within a month of leaving hospital.
Geeta added: ‘We were so poor we didn’t even have enough money to buy a shroud for her dead body.
‘I had to take off my petticoat and wrap her in that before floating her body in the river Ganges.’
Three months after the murderous attack, while Inderjeet was still in prison, he wrote Geeta a letter begging for forgiveness.
Geeta said: ‘I got scared, dropped the charges and he was released. For the next 14 months I stayed with my mother but he kept visiting, always apologizing.’
‘People hated us. They laughed at us and looked at us with disgust. Neighbours even asked me to leave the area. I faced a lot of pressure. I was worried about our future.
‘How was I going to raise my kids? So once my injuries healed and I felt stronger I went back to him. For many years he was nice to me and I shared a bed with him again and we had another daughter.’
Inderjeet claims he is full of regret over his actions that killed his own child. Yet Geeta says he continues to drink excessively and gambles away his family’s money.
Recalling the life changing night, Inderjeet said: ‘That night I was drunk. One of my friends got the bottle of acid for me. I asked for a light composition so not to harm them much.’
‘But they washed themselves with water which made the acid boil. If they had wiped the chemical with a cloth it wouldn’t have had such an effect.’
‘I regret that day very much. More when I see my girl Neetu. It makes me sad to see her like this. Whenever I see Neetu my heart cries.’
He added: ‘I said sorry to my wife and daughter. I asked them to forgive me and they did. We had our third daughter Poonam after the attack and now, we are all living together.’
Neetu suffered acid burns to her arms, chest and face. The acid also seeped into both of her eyes.
But remarkably Neetu says she has forgiven her father for the attack.
‘I can hardly remember anything about the day,’ she said. ‘But I have forgiven him. I’ve never asked my mother why are we with him? I never get angry.’
‘In our society people hate the victim more than the culprit. There’s so much pressure in society. My mother was totally dependent on him and she had no option but to return to him,’ Neetu said.
In 2014, Neetu started working at Sheroes Café, in Agra. It was founded by the non-profit organization Stop Acid Attacks.
Acid attack survivors come together at the café to work and find independence. Neetu says she hopes to become a singer one day.
‘I never feel sad or low,’ she said. ‘I never think of myself weaker than anyone else. I never get angry. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life.
‘Everyone has to struggle to survive, it’s just that people like me have to struggle a bit more. It was my face and eyes that were attacked not my dreams and courage.’
In May this year, Neetu had surgery on her right eye, with the help of the Stop Acid Attack foundation.
But sadly the surgery only improved her eye by three per cent. Her left eye is permanently damaged and cannot be cured.
Geeta is now worried about her daughter’s future: ‘I cry every night thinking about my daughter. She is solely dependent on me. I worry what will happen to her when I’m gone.
‘She’s a strong girl but her blindness stops her doing things on her own. I hope a miracle happens. My daughter has a beautiful heart and I am so very proud of her.’