*Bhavna, 21, is a freelance writer in Bhopal.
My own world
As a person with a hearing disability, I would often be lost in my own world – without the outside noise and chaos. It was a world full of calm, happiness and love. I was born completely deaf in my left ear and 70% deaf in the right. I was dependent on hearing aids all the time.
Despite my condition, my parents never let me believe I had any disability. I was sent to the best school in the city and got admission in a top college.
I met Parag in school. I still remember the first time I saw him – a tall, lean, confident guy with a twinkle in his eyes. I don’t remember when he started doing this but he always sat next to me. Always cracking jokes, making funny faces and helping me with studies. He was my wing man. He was friends with everyone and even though he took great care of me, I didn’t dare think it was anything special.
One day a classmate made fun of my hearing aids. I chose to ignore as usual. But Parag got up and gave him a good bashing. Oh, how I felt!
All fun, no noise
Parag and I became best of friends. As luck would have it, we both joined the same college. He still sat next to me in most classes.
One evening, everyone in our group planned to watch a movie. I usually avoided movies because it was too loud for my comfort and the feedback from my hearing aids hurt. I wanted to be a part of the crowd and said yes in excitement.
Less than half way through, I could not take it anymore. It was a thriller which made it worse! My ears hurt. Parag saw me restless and immediately grabbed my hand and got up to leave, saying he wasn’t really enjoying the movie. I knew it was quite the opposite! But he walked out with me and dropped me home.
After a few days, it was my 20th birthday. That evening, I went out with my friends to a pub. It was a whole new experience for me. The jazzy flashing lights, the crowd and the loud music!
It seemed a lot of fun. I really wanted to stay but my ears were bursting! Parag led me to a little outdoor terrace attached to the place and we spent the rest of the evening there, in the middle of all the fun but without the noise.
Scared of confession
A few days later I had to take my driving licence test. The last few times, the officials had failed me. It made me livid because I knew I had more control over the wheels than many others who passed. But they would fail me at the sight of my hearing aids.
This time Parag came along with me. He advised me to leave my hair loose. I blushed but did as told. With him by my side, I wore a cloak of confidence and my sweetest smile and...voila they approved my license! Later I realised my hearing aids were not visible and so they saw that I could drive!
I was grinning ear to ear when I shared the news with Parag. He hugged me tight and didn't let me go for a long time. It was for the first time I felt butterflies in my stomach and weak in my knees. I knew it was love but I was so scared of confessing it to myself or to him.
My deafness rang loud
Fast forward two years. We had finished college and my parents were now thinking of my marriage. Dinner was served everyday alongside Bharat Matrimony prospects. But as expected, all we got were rejections, some upfront and direct and others discreet.
My deafness rang loud and overpowered everything else about me. The rejections upset me and started reflecting in my mood. Parag began to notice it. But I did not know what to tell him. I also never confessed my love for him. I wasn’t sure if a life with me was what he envisaged, always having to leave parties and movies midway, for my sake.
The chance of a lifetime
One day Parag sat me down and urged me to share what was wrong. I told me him the saga and started crying in frustration. Parag smiled, lift my chin up and said, ‘Do you think I’ll give up this rather wonderful chance to get to shout at my wife and always get away with it?’, he said with that twinkle that had first melt my heart all those years ago. ‘Tell your parents not to bother!’.
It didn’t exactly sound like a proposal but it was!
‘Look... I may not always listen to you but I do hear what your heart says.’ I responded, blushing. He just held my hand. Neither of us spoke. We let the warm silence do the rest of the talking.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.