It was two summers ago. I was occupied in packing for my impending vacations in USA. It was 7 o’clock in the evening when I got his call saying, “After you come back, we will meet and finalize everything. Love you. Enjoy your time there. Will miss you.” These words were soothing enough for a four and a half month’s long vacation which left like more like a year for me after his words.
I had met him on a whatsapp group through a common friend. This friend was close to both of us and a group chat intrigued me enough to try to know him better. My inquisitive nature made me ping him personally and fun chats turned into phone calls and immediately after a few days we became close to each other. After a heavy dose of antibiotics had rendered me unavailable for an entire day from the group, he pinged me personally and said, “Apna dhyaan rukh. Love you.” This message from him changed something forever in my life.
My swollen eyes opened wide and I responded, “What? hosh main to ho? Are you drunk?” His next message was even more confusing for me: “Koi insaan dil sey kuch kahey to aap mazaak udaatey ho. Good night. So jaa.”
I apologized, wished him good night and left the chat, still wondering what had happened? The triple dose of calls, texts and heartwarming words were communicating his seriousness for me but as soon as our discussion moved towards marriage, his response used to diminish as if someone had just tried to blow off a lighted candle.
Lack of trust affects relationship for women with disability in India
“Tell me, why?” I asked him fervently.
“I am permanently on a wheelchair. I always need somebody’s help for most of the things. From bathing to washroom to shifting, almost everything. You also need help, though lesser than me. How would we be able to take care of each other?” He replied.
After a pause, he questioned, “Sambhal legi mujhe? What if you would fall sick? Who would take care of you? I can’t even pick you to the car.”
I had no answer to his questions but I was still ready to take this challenge on because I was in love and wanted him as a life partner. After thinking over all the possibilities for a day, I came up with my answers. And, somehow managed to convince him of us being together and of all the other possibilities. “Make yourself more independent so that you can take care of yourself well,” were his exact words if I remember correctly.
I was determined to improve my physical health for the two of us. After landing in Chicago, I started to work on my stamina by strengthening my muscles. In the process, I ignored all the precautions that my doctors had advised me to take earlier. Risking my life, I started walking up and down the stairs, did countless push ups, and much more. After seven days of strenuous work out, I developed a stabbing pain towards the right side of my abdomen. The pain was so unbearable that I had to take painkillers every six hours or as soon as the effect of medicines subsided. It took me almost 2 weeks to fully recover.
But then, one fine day, it all came to no avail.
It wasn’t you, neither it was me! But then, whose fault was it?
All his promises of getting married after I became more capable physically turned out to be empty within 2 weeks of my stay in US!
The pain I felt after he turned cold shoulders and suddenly stopped every form of contact was far worse than the physical pain I had endured earlier. I kept on emailing him, tried my best to convince him. He responded with a message, “Whatever you are thinking is not possible.”
I felt so ridiculed in that moment that even after winning Miss Wheelchair India and achieving so much of fame, I could not win someone I loved so much just because of a disability of which I couldn’t do anything.
I became sick, depressed, and hopeless. The way things happened, it had hurt my ego. I nursed a grudge to teach him a lesson; but more than that, I was aware of my sufferings. I was determined to move on. I was determined to find other avenues rather than ruminating and ruining myself. I engaged myself by singing, shopping and painting.
After a week of doing these weird, though somewhat soothing activities, hope came in the form of an email by the Miss Wheelchair World organization. They asked me to send them a video for its promotion and inquired about my interest for the competition. I needed this much awaited “push” to put all of my madness into it. Later, I got the opportunity to represent India on the Miss Wheelchair World platform.
This incident could have broken me, but looking at it now, I had turned myself for the better. The lesson I got from it was that there are still plenty of issues for a person with disability to find love or a life partner in India. After my participation in the Miss Wheelchair World competition 2017, I have become more determined to help make India more accessible, increase the acceptability of differently-abled people in our society, open new avenues for our community so that they feel independent not only financially, but emotionally, too.
All along, I still think of my days with him. Forgiveness is something that everyone has to practice. Not only for others, but we need to learn to forgive ourselves, too. I still believe, “It wasn’t him, neither was it me, but then I don’t know whose fault was it!”