A Challenged Love.

It’s ok to make war. But not ok to Love.

I will tell you a story today, not just any story – a True Story – one that broke my heart…

This goes back again to the days, when I was lecturing at a Teacher’s training college, which was attached to a school of special children. And the course was for teachers who were to be teaching special children, those who were ‘challenged’ by the ‘standards’ of this world.

One day my colleague Meena, came across Nirmal, sitting on his wheelchair, completely distraught and in a flood of tears. Nirmal was an eighteen year old, quadriplegic, suffering from Cerebral Palsy. He was able to communicate a little bit by writing and speaking a few words, though somewhat incoherent. After a great deal of trying, Meena finally learnt that Nirmal’s trainee teacher – Sonia – hadn’t come to school for many, many days.  The other trainees told Meena that Nirmal hadn’t been eating for a while now. Unable to bear the sight of Nirmal’s grief, Meena contacted Sonia and after a great deal of persuasion, Sonia finally agreed to meet her.

The day Meena met young Sonia, was the day of Sonia’s ‘Mehendi’  (I think)….There she was decked up, her hands covered in Mehendi, soon to get married. Meena told her about Nirmal…about his pain and distress…how he was refusing to eat or drink….from the day of Sonia’s absence. And none of us knew why? What had happened? Did she know? Sonia looked up, her eyes glistening with un-spilt tears…for a long time she refused to say anything….finally – after a great deal of cajoling she told Meena….

One day, as Sonia had been teaching Nirmal, one to one, sitting next to him…he had scrawled a note in his shaky, unsteady writing…’I Love You’…Sonia had thought it sweet, treating it as a small child’s declaration and not giving it much thought. And then, he said he wanted to kiss her. Sonia was thoroughly confused and frightened by this. She didn’t know what to do and from the next day she simply stopped coming to college. She thought it was horrible of Nirmal, she thought it was a great ‘Sin’. She felt ‘boys like him’ shouldn’t have ‘those’ sort of feelings. That it was all so wrong! It wasn’t her fault – it’s what she had been taught to believe, what millions like her do believe – false notions of Sin and rights and wrongs. And that children, adults like ‘them’ are allowed only to be vegetables, with no feelings or desires. They weren’t allowed! Even animals love..give and need love!

Nirmal was physically and mentally challenged – and like everyone else in this world, he felt Love, he fell in Love. It’s the one thing that makes our life worth living and beautiful! But our society denies this most basic of right, this most basic of emotions to living, breathing humans like him. And attach false ideas, of sin and morality to it – Why?

Aren’t they human? Just because they are ‘disabled’ in some way, don’t they have a right to live?

To Love?

(All names changed to protect privacy of individuals)


Filed under People Portraits

3 responses to “A Challenged Love.

  1. Robert

    Dear Anjali,

    This is such a powerful observation of the essential commonality between us all, regardless of the outer distinctions. We all feel, wish to love, and wish to be loved. Our physical condition, our religion, our society…all these are secondary to our shared essence.

    Thank you for this.

    All good wishes,



    • Absolutely Robert! And we needed to be reminded of it again and again and again. If only as humans we focused on the very basic need of love than all our so called differences – which are so very superficial! Thank you for your thoughtful comment Robert!


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