From the beginning, I was skeptical about certain relationships in the life. One such relationship is marriage. To add fire to fuel, the suitors I got when I was young for marriage, are of persons who either want the comfortable living my parents can provide for their son-in-law or the one who wants to be great by marrying a disabled girl and enjoy the status of a reasonably well-known family. These propositions left me more determined in my thinking that marriage is not for disabled, especially for a woman.
And I was immersed in my work; first as rehabilitation post my spinal cord surgery, then out of immense satisfaction I am getting as a social entrepreneur. There were days when I used to work for 18 hours- a day at a stretch coordinating Vijaya Pratham- an educational initiative work in 200 villages. Life was hectic, busy and I drowned myself in work.
Around those time I met Anand- virtually met him virtually. To explain it, I have seen his profile in internet, offering his services as development professional. At those times, our trust was in need of a professional to evaluate our programs and to represent our organization in Hyderabad. So I interviewed him to represent our organization on a temporary basis. His work is to come once in a month to project areas and interact with ground level workers and give report to me and stake holders as well. Our friendship grew from his visits and there is lot of commonality in our ideas regarding work, life.
But, going to US and studying the organizations run there for disabled is a dream to me. Though many friends called me, I didn’t dared enough to go alone because I was never sure I can manage alone without any help, with a wheelchair, crutches, and leg braces. So desirous to go, I asked one day anand- over phone “ will you come with me to US??” Without a moment hesitation in voice he said- “ YES, if you give me three months time to wrap some projects I have in hand!” This unconditional answer surprised me to no end. Then social side of dealing the impact that an un married man and woman traveling. I asked my father – does he have any problem with this travel companion issue?” He said practically, knowing my desire to see the organizations there in US, “ I don’t have any problem my dear! Take care of your health that’s all!”
Equipped with the confidence that I have company to travel and my father’s encouragement in the kind of the work I wish to do, I started different avenues to go to US. I applied for a South Asian Community to work as volunteer and I got accepted. On behalf of our organization we both applied for a study tour visa. And we have been given a multiple entry visa for 10 years.
Finally, we landed in US of A in May’2007. I don’t wish elaborate the wonderful journey we have had in the USA, for that I am writing in different chapters in the book. But, the way Anand took care of me, I can write volumes. The number of times he folded and unfolded the wheelchair, the sacrifices he made to be my side all the time, the way he supported my work and projects, oh!! The list is endless. Despite being a double post-graduate from a premier institution like IIFM, Bhopal, the way he conducts his life, words, is no less than a budhdhist monk. The unconditional way he reaches out to people and the respectable way he treats any woman amazed me. For the 6 months, he cooked for me, cleaned my mess as and where I don’t have access… to put it in short, he did the work of my legs which stopped working when I am 45days old.
All this has given me greater respect for him. I want to make it clear for the benefit of readers it’s only RESPECT and TRUST for a compassionate human being. Not anything else.
But, everything turned upside down when we came back from US, settled in our own respective places. My sister and aunt who are fond of Anand from the beginning for his simplicity and values, they gave me an ultimatum that if I don’t propose Anand, they will initiate the proposal on behalf of me. I remembered Sir John Abraham’s quote “ people look at things and ask-Why? I look at things and ask Why not??” So with the encouragement of my sister and aunt, I have decided to ask Anand. On a quiet day when he was to visit our projects, I received him at railway station. He was really surprised to see me. We sat in a hotel, had lunch and without mincing the words, I asked him straight on face- Anand! Will you marry me? , without even looking at his face or response I started giving my lecture- which can be described as follows:
First and foremost, if you want to say NO, please say it to me. Tomorrow my family asking you and you saying NO to the proposal will put me and our friendship in an awkward position. If you want to say YES- think about it many times. It’s not easy being married or staying married to a person with disability. You are not only marrying her, but marrying her disability, her hidden fears and phobias too. And further its endless work you got to do as care provider, as most of the persons with disabilities are not sure of their mobility level in the future. I have been going on and on and on…
He listened to me patiently for 10 minutes and stopped me in my lecture- “Yes, I agree for all that! But… a relationship is complete when a whole family accepts the person in to their life. So I need a ten days time to talk to my family, especially my mother!” This again came as a surprise to me. But another sweet surprise to me came in the form of my would-be-mother-in-law, when anand requested her for her permission. She has initial concerns about that a disabled person will be a burden on her son. But sensing how much Anand wants to be with me, she practically said-“what is disability? Today, I am normal. If, tomorrow something happens to me I may end up in wheelchair!. I don’t have any problem with the relationship but you should have enough strength to sustain it!” I am just awestruck when I heard this. We talk of education giving so much understanding and culture, but this coming from a house maker is a real treat for me! I came to know about the deep value set under which he was brought up. Many people talk about ideals, some people just do it silently!
Thus our journey started as a couple with the blessings of both the sides on Mar 26th, 2008. Marriage was a simple affair of 11 minutes (9/11 pm set time for the muhurat), as I was opposed to long hours- highly ritualistic physical exercise on the part of physically challenged person. Anand seconded my opinion, so many well-wishers who wanted a better marriage for us, were quite disappointed.
What is right is more important than who is right.
Relationship is successful so long the communication is functional and positive.
Trust is greater quality which is lacking now-a-days, needs to be infused.
Disability is a challenge, until you embrace it fully, then it becomes part of you. You will learn how to deal with it
Relationships need time. Give it. Then you will never have to look back with regret.
Multi-tasking is efficient in work, not in life.
Giving each other enough space will not create vacuum, it will create more respect for each other.
You may not be capable of dealing every situation, but you are capable of giving yourself some time every day.
The path traveled to reach the destinations is as important as the destination
Be truthful to your partner. That will create greater bond
However the day may be, do not carry it the next day. Live in the present. Live in the moment
Hope we will enjoy the “ JOURNEY BEING TOGETHER” with all your friendship..support..blessings!!
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