[AI] Where love is blind to all barriers
dl.vikas at gmail.com
Sun Feb 10 09:24:44 EST 2008
Where love is blind to all barriers
10 Feb 2008, 0041 hrs IST,Yudhajit Shankar Das,TNN
For Neeraj, it wasn't love 'at first sight'. In fact, he's never seen his sweetheart, Anita, and never will because he is visually impaired. Similarly,
Mansi has never spoken about her feelings to her partner - because she cannot speak. Welcome to the world of the differently-abled, where love rules but
its expression can be quite different.
Neeraj Kumar is undergoing technical training at Blind Relief Association of India, New Delhi. He has been gradually losing his eyesight since childhood,
due to a condition of the cornea. But, even though his eyesight is worsening by the day, love is ringing all the more clearly in Neeraj's ears. "I used
to man a PCO in my hometown in Dadri, UP. Once she happened to call and asked for a relative who is my neighbour," he says.
That was in 2004 - and they still chat over the phone. "She liked my voice and started chasing me. I also fell in love." They have expressed their love
over the phone many a time but have not met as yet.
Neeraj fears that Anita will never be able to accept the harsh reality. "I haven't told her that I am blind. I don't want to lose her." He has tried to
end the relationship many times, by trying to avoid making calls to her. "But I can't stop myself," he says with blank eyes. "I believe she will never
accept a blind person as her husband," he says. "But what do I do? I am in love."
But all's not lost yet and he should take heart from Renu Saluja's story. She's hearing-impaired and works as an instructor at Delhi Federation of Deaf
Women. Renu married Ashok, a photographer and also hearing-impaired, in 1983 after years of courtship. Their struggle was tougher as they came from different
religious backgrounds. "Initially, there was opposition, but we believed we could come out of this together," says Renu.
She adds, with a fleeting smile, "After lots of pleading and standing our ground, our families agreed to the relationship. And now, we are very happy together."
Asked whether the relationship would have been any different if her husband were not a hearing-impaired person, she quips, "He couldn't have understood
me. Our understanding is perfect."
Similarly, Mansi, who is hearing impaired and works with Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, is happily married to another hearing-impaired
person. "We have zero problem," she indicates in sign language. "No one could have understood me better." She says that raising a family is not a problem
if the parents are educated - even elders in the family help a lot.
That is exactly what Kesav Kumar, a visually impaired instructor at Blind Relief Association, believes. "From my personal experience I have seen that couples
who share the same disabilities, lead a happy life together. The bond is much stronger," he says.
And what makes the heart flutter? "We don't have a concept of visual beauty. Our perception is aided by imagination, sense of touch and sound - the most
important of all," says Kesav.
Some have a different approach to love too, like Gurbachan Singh, a former mountaineer who lost his vision in an accident in 2002. "I was into a relationship
but then thought she would be happier with a person who can see." His ex-girlfriend is married now. "Initially, it pained me a lot and the decision was
tough, but now I feel relieved. I believe I have done the right thing." On being asked how would he find his partner, Gurbachan says "She will love me
in entirety, not a part of me."
Nutan Pandey, assistant director-in-charge of Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for the Handicapped and a trained psychologist, says: "Their understanding
is better because they don't have a diversified perception like us."
She says that sexual urges among the visually handicapped are stronger than among those who can see. "Unlike us, their hormones are not affected by strain
of the world." Also, she says, there are few or no practical problems in the lives of couples sharing the same disability, as they are able to reciprocate
feelings better and are capable of handling situations together.
(Some names have been changed on request)
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