I had just reached home from work. It was 11 PM and a chilly night. It was so silent that my own heartbeat felt too loud. I entered my room and retired to bed. I heard the sound of utensils coming from the kitchen, mom was heating milk for me. Till mom came with a glass of warm milk, I started checking my WhatsApp messages. No new message there and I quickly moved on to Facebook. My Facebook wall was flooded with wedding pictures. Many of my friends had posted their wedding pictures on their wall, while some had updated their relationship status to “engaged”.
“Is the whole world getting married?” I mockingly asked myself. And then I commented on some of the pictures which I really admired.
But wait! What was happening to me? Why was I feeling sad? I was supposed to be happy for them.
Unable to sleep, I switched on the light, sat on my bed and uncovered my legs from the quilt and started staring at them as if they were alien to me. My eyes now moved to the walking rollator (walking aid) comprised of three or four legs kept next to my bed. My eyeballs were bouncing to and fro from my legs to the rollator. This continued for almost a minute. Was this an actual reason in my subconscious mind?
Next morning similar thoughts occupied my mind again. Standing in front of the mirror, I checked myself and instantly a mental monologue started.
“Hey Payal, I am somewhat pretty, have a masters’ degree; which means I’m fairly educated, earning for the last two years, falling into the marriageable age bracket, then why am I not able to find someone for myself? Why am I getting so many rejections?”
You may agree to disagree but almost all girls want to get married. The reasons may differ for each girl, but the reason suffices her agenda to get married.
Just because I am orthopedically challenged, doesn’t mean that my heart is vacant from these desires. I too crave to get along with someone special who loves me in his special way and makes me feel special.
When a girl or a boy enters adulthood, they usually find their family or relatives talking about their marriage; or relatives coming up with suitable matches for them. But I never find any of my relatives having these kinds of talks with ‘my marriage’ as the subject. It sometimes feels very weird. Does it mean that guidelines (be it any) differ when it comes to the marriage of people with special needs?
Or maybe in this technologically advanced world where we have online matrimonial forums, no one wants to get involved in these kind of affairs; or they do not ask me about my marriage because they think that it may hurt my feelings; or probably they have a belief that I cannot get married as I am orthopedically challenged; or there may be any other reason which my mind can’t think of right now…there is an endless list of ‘or’…
Only my family and handful of close friends seem concerned and want me to get married, which actually gives me a sense of relief that at least they empathize with me.
I’ve always wanted to get married to someone who is also differently-abled because I think that he will understand and empathize with me more as compared to ‘normal’ boys.
However, my thoughts somehow did not sync with the reality when proposals actually started knocking at my door.
The first proposal brought so much excitement. The guy was good looking, educated and was working in a managerial position in a reputed company. The talks began between the two families. It was like a telephonic interview where we both were discussing our likes, dislikes, expectations from each other and so on. Things went smoothly for a week until I received my first rejection. Apparently, since both my hands remain engaged with the rollator, I would not be able to cook, serve food or drive him around.
And I wondered, My could have been ‘mother in-law’, you should probably look for a cook then. And in the times of Ola and Uber where conveyance is just a call away, how can driving be an issue? As far as cooking and serving food is concerned, we could have had a domestic help assist me or you could have helped me, I would not have kept your son starving anyway.
I was feeling a little low, it was both my first proposal and rejection.
The burden of work at my office helped me move on after the rejection. I pampered myself like a little kid by saying “Abhi kuch baat hui thodi na thi ki main apna mood off kar rahi hun. Yeh toh shuruwaat hai bas. It happens (It’s not like something serious has happened yet that I’m letting it get to me. This is just the beginning).”
After a month, the second proposal arrived. The guy was well-educated and well-settled. He liked me and we spoke every day. It seemed like he wanted to know me better. But whenever I spoke to him about taking things to the next level, he would change the conversation. Starting to feel suffocated with no progress, I found myself getting distant from him. On noticing my behaviour, he decided to disclose the truth. He wanted me as a backup as his family wanted a ‘normal girl’ for him. In case they were unable to find one, they would consider me. And I was like “Wow! You have the courage to say something like this to me, but I wish you would have the same moral courage to correct your family instead.”
I was amazed when the next guy rejected me by saying that I won’t be able to cater to his ‘other needs’ and this is just after meeting me twice.
I did refuse to get physically intimate with him, hence this verdict. Speechless as I was, I didn’t know what and how to say things in order to defend myself. I couldn’t understand the connection between my disability and having sex. He was questioning me on something I wasn’t too keen on proving and so I decided to get him away from my life.
None of these guys asked me about my expectations from my dream man or my marriage. It all appeared to be a one-way street.
I cried my eyes out that night as if everything had crossed my threshold. I blamed god and the society which has created so many stereotypes and taboos for everything I desired for. I was disappointed.
The very next day, I saw a visually impaired married couple in the rail metro and they were pampering their beautiful little baby. As I exited from the metro station to enter a mall, I saw a newly wedded couple , both in a wheelchair. They were enjoying each other’s company without being concerned about what the people around would think about them. This made me realize that there do exist people who are beyond these stereotypes. Maybe it was a sign for me to not give up hope.
If my disability will decide my suitability for a man then I couldn’t care less. I won’t consider these as rejections for myself but rather the people behind these rejections who have rejected themselves for who they are.
And my search for a partner still continues. I am disheartened because these rejections come from differently-abled people themselves or their respective families. They are no different from the rest of the society which alienates the ‘differently-abled’.
What my experiences have taught me is that things do work out when two people want it to work and are ready to put in some efforts to make a relationship successful. Still hopeful.
About Payal Kukreja: Payal is 27-year-old who has completed post graduation from Delhi University. She started her career with Bank of America and currently she is working with Metlife. She is orthopedically challenged from birth but has not allowed this challenge to become an obstacle in living her life. She believes in living her life on her own terms. In her free time, she loves listening to music, writing and spending time with family and friends.
Inclov encourages women to fight the prejudices associated with marriage, to not let themselves get subjugated or subverted and make an informed choice for the right life partner. Inclov invites women, coming from all walks of life and irrespective of the good or bad experiences they have had while looking for a life-partner, to join Inclov and find the right match for themselves.
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