Dr Deepa Venkatesh is currently working as associate professor in Kodagu institute of medical sciences Madikeri. She is an avid writer, passionate entrepreneur and a canine lover. She gets her joy from small things around her and is especially inclined towards music. She is one of the I Can Lead fellows 2020 at Rising Flame.
From mutual friends to Facebook friends
I heard about him through a common friend. He was a senior at college, a person with a disability and a dentist like myself. The moment I found out about his disability, I decided that he was the one.
His disability is a little milder than mine, which attracted me to him, as I felt he wouldn’t look down on me, and that we would also be able to support each other. I began thinking of ways to get closer to him. Through Facebook, I texted him a query on our subject. To my elation, he replied immediately. I then got his WhatsApp number, and we began to message on each other’s status, always very formally.
I would love to see his status and wait for his messages, but I had hardly spoken to him. He was a nature lover and an awesome photographer. Soon, I started to develop an interest in photography, and I would update my status with colourful flowers and butterflies to impress him.
Sometimes, the simplest things are what we need the most, and all I wanted was to catch his attention. I never told him, or anybody else, about how I felt, but I think I secretly loved him. My life felt like a Tamil song – kanbathellam…kadhaladi….(all that I see around me looks like love now).
Regrets and desires
I have always regretted not being like any other person my age. I missed doing the things young people generally do, like flirting and having fun with guys. Even though that’s not the kind of thing I actually wanted to do, I couldn’t help but think, why am I not like them? Why can’t I even talk to guys? Would I appeal to anyone?
Every time I met someone new, I would yearn for them to be my potential life partner, but they only left me heartbroken.
Once, in a conversation with a colleague and a good friend of mine, I told her that I wished to marry a dentist. She immediately exclaimed, ‘You are quite overconfident.’
My dear friend, is it wrong to wish for a spouse from the same profession? Would you have said the same if a so-called ‘normal’ person had expressed the same desire? Do people with disabilities not have a choice when choosing a life partner?
Finally, a first date
I am 34 now, and while most of my friends are married, I am still looking for my soulmate. After two years of formal messages on WhatsApp and Facebook, I decided it was time to tell my secret crush how I felt. I could not help but think, what if he rejects me because of my disability?
But we had common interests, and he seemed too good to miss out on, so I finally sent him a WhatsApp message expressing my feelings. To my surprise, he said he would call me the next day. My heart was pounding with anxiety. We spoke for an hour, got to understand each other better, and my love for him only increased. We decided to meet, and I travelled 250 km to meet him in a café.
This time, I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. I groomed myself well, got my face bleached to become two shades lighter, grew my hair from a short pixie to a shoulder bob, curled my hair, wore my best blue dress, carried my crutches, and took a gift for him.
This was my first time speaking to him in-person, and he was just dashing! He looked like a superman to me. I noticed his cat eyes, a colour midway between white and black, and his blue and white striped t-shirt.
Nothing he said about himself was new to me, other than the fact that he was a strict Brahmin. He asked me about my family background too, which left me a little irritated. I am not from an ‘upper class family’.
All I am looking for is someone who can stand by my side physically, mentally and emotionally. Truly beautiful relationships are not meted by terms and conditions, but by two people who can trust and understand each other.
Holding on to hope
As the date came to an end, he left saying we were friends. My heart couldn’t settle for just this. I didn’t give him the gift, just thanked him for spending time with me, and left without turning to look back.
When there was no message from him the next day, I wrote one myself, thanking him again for the most wonderful first date. His reply was formal, wishing me luck with my future endeavours.
Still, there remains something undeniably attractive about him that I cannot express. It’s a love that feels unfathomable and unbreakable. We continue to message each other on status, and I am still hoping for a message from him saying he will marry me. It’s the possibility of having a dream that makes life interesting, isn’t it?
Rising Flame in collaboration with Love Matters presents a series of essays on love, intimacy, relationships and disability. Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar is an effort to amplify voices of disabled women; narratives on love that seldom are seen in mainstream discussions on romance. Starting February 14th, we will be releasing four pieces authored by women with disabilities giving us a sneak peek into their lives, dreaming and hoping for the possibilities of love.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model.