From designing homes to becoming a household name, Nishi Bhatnagar has come a long way! This is the story of love, perseverance and the will to face adversity. An unfortunate incident had dramatically changed the narrative of Shishir and Nishi’s married life, but they faced the hardships together and managed to thrive despite the odds. Shishir had met with an incident and was rendered quadriplegic with this body becoming completely paralysed below the neck after an accident.
It’s been more than eight years and four months since the incident! For Nishi, it feels as if time has passed with the blink of an eye. “A lot has happened during these years and yet it just feels like a dream now. When I think of it, I see how life has turned upside down for us. By accepting the unexpected and still believing that we shall overcome because our love persists, keeps us going,” she says.
Shishir and Nishi had met in Delhi through family friends. He had qualified as a Master Mariner and was ready to get hitched. For him, it was love at first sight. “I fell in love with you, the moment I laid eyes on you Nishi,” she recalls his words as they had instantly hit it off. Though, he tried hard to make her understand the hardships of being the partner of a Merchant Navy officer but that did not stop her. Finally, they got hitched in October, 2009.
Life was beautiful and blossomed as we wanted it to be… until, tragedy struck!
The duo had flown to Goa along with their family for the wedding of Shishir’s cousin. They had left immediately for the venue as coincidentally, it was their wedding anniversary too and a cake cutting ceremony was planned for them. The party was by the poolside and a few of the guests had already jumped into the pool. During the celebrations, Shishir accidentally fell into the pool as there was no safety rope or rails placed around it. His head hit the pool floor and ended up fracturing multiple vertebrae in his neck and damaged his spinal cord. He was immediately rushed to a hospital but by then his body had become paralysed below the neck as he was unable to move his arms or legs.
“I thought I would drown and no one would notice it. Luckily, my uncle saw me and turned me over thereby allowing me to breath. He pulled me out of the pool and rushed me to a nearby hospital. During all this while, I couldn’t feel my body but my eyes were wide open and I could see and hear what was happening around me,” he recalls.
With an unfortunate twist of fate, Shishir was rendered quadriplegic; with no sensation below his neck. His entire life had changed in that one instant.
Two weeks after being operated upon, a titanium plate was placed in his neck. He was flown to Delhi in an air ambulance to begin his rehabilitation program. For the next eight months, he had to spend eight hours a day at a rehabilitation center undergoing physiotherapy, occupational therapy and counselling. Eventually, he had to learn everything from scratch again!
Currently, Shishir works for a Hong Kong based shipping company as a Nautical Consultant. The thing that bothered him most after the incident was that he had to be dependent on others for all of his daily requirements. “From brushing teeth, to eating to everything else, I needed assistance. Fortunately, I met a number of peer mentors who showed me that they were not just living a normal life, but enjoying it to the fullest even after a spinal cord injury,” he adds.
Recalling the incident, she admits being numb for a long while. “I was in a shocked state and the only thought that kept running in my mind was of getting the best help for my husband. I had made peace with the fact that he would be in a wheelchair, but wanted to provide the best assistance for his mental health and to be strong enough to face whatever had happened,” she recalls.
Adversity breeds Opportunity: “Chocolate Therapy by Nishi” becomes a household name!
Nishi, who was an interior designer, (which demanded travelling and being out of the house for long periods of time) quit her profession to get things back on track. Luckily, she was introduced to chocolate making by a neighbour. Nishi tried her hand at it and found it pretty interesting as she could do it from her home. She thought of taking it up professionally and managed to bag a few orders during Diwali and ended up delivering it in record time at clients’ utmost satisfaction. She was delighted and started taking up more orders and started to bake as well. This led to the birth of “Chocolate Therapy by Nishi“. It gave her peace and calmness in her otherwise chaotic life. Now, Nishi wants to make it a household name across India.
There is no better therapy and chocolate and for Nishi, it helped resurrect a life staring at an abyss. “Baking and chocolate making has been a resurrection for us. I feel there’s n better therapy than chocolate and hence, the name Chocolate Therapy by Nishi.
She feels living with a partner with disability is not a worrisome factor at all. “Nobody said it’s going to be easy, but it isn’t that difficult either. You just need to pick up the pieces and place them together. Everyone is special and has the ability to do something if the situation calls for it. I also lost my calm once in a while, as one needn’t be strong all the time. I am thankful for what we have instead of complaining upon what you have lost.”
Nishi and Shishir’s story is a great example where an incident changed the rhythm of their lives and yet they managed to thrive and are living happily ever since proving that disability is not debilitating for anyone if love exists.