The Last Option
‘When I had just lost one eye my aunts would come home and say arey yaar, she is a girl, she has lost one eye. How will she get married, how will she live her life. They never considered that I was sitting right there and of course I could hear. It would impact me. So as a kid that time it got set in my brain that I am not going to get married, if I do, then the person has to accept me as I am, with all my challenges. And if he doesn’t have the guts, then sorry I don’t want to get married. Marriage is not the ultimate goal of my life. But I learnt later that it is not like that. Things change.
Last year a marriage bureau arranged a meeting with a boy and his family. He was a sighted guy. His parents were still convincing him saying why do you have a problem, if she takes her own car, goes to work, does the household cooking and all as well. I just sat there. It was so humiliating that someone even thought of pairing me with that guy. He had lesser education, very little income, not even good enough to be a clerk in my office.
Another boy my family has searched, stays in a remote village. He has acres of land and a big joint family living with him. He too is blind. When I went and met him, I realised, he was completely depressed and unenthusiastic in life. He had a graduate degree, but didn’t do any substantial work. He only used to run some shibir. His talks were so rehearsed. I can’t imagine myself as his wife at all. But my mom wants me to rethink. She says what if we don’t find anyone else after this? My sister in law is very certain that the boy is perfect for me. She says I can go and wipe out his depression and bring happiness in his life. They all think that I should forget the boy and also think of the family. Where will I get such a rich family ready to accept me? But I am still saying no. I have to live my life with the boy. The thought only suffocates me. Hope I can stand by my decision.’
Vanita, 40, Visually impaired
‘For me in the initial years relationships didn’t matter because it was all about survival. The need to be in a relationship started four years down the line, when I started getting all right and I started socialising. That’s when I realised that ok there is something missing in my life. I suppose I stopped going to social functions and parties because that made me realise that men were not interested in me. I only went to functions where I felt comfortable and accepted…
I had decided that I may not get a man. A lot of people felt that why don’t I go for someone who is disabled as I am. And for some reason I couldn’t digest that. Why should I go for someone who is disabled, just because he wants to marry me? What about other aspects of marriage like getting along and communication and talking and stuff like that. It was weird when some of my relatives said oh but you could get married to someone who is blind. Why don’t you consider that? He won’t be able to see your face. I couldn’t get that. I was like why! The emphasis was on physical attributes and not on the person. And marriages unfortunately are all based on physical attributes. You will see that the person is well settled, has a good job, a good family, and that’s it.’
Shirin Juwaley, 37, disfigurement after acid attack.