(As told to Irewati Nag)
Three is company
No, No, No, No…you got it all wrong. Stop imagining a hot threesome. (If life was that interesting, I wouldn’t be writing this!) The omnipresent third, who is making it all spicy and juicy between me and my husband is definitely not a he or a she.
It is his…
No pervert ideas there.
Yes. That was quite dramatic. But I’m used to the drama now.
Let me explain.
After 7 years and two kids, I was accustomed to the monotony that had settled cosily between me and my husband. I was looking for some excitement to spice up things. A sudden getaway, a surprise kinky gift. Okay, a quiet dinner at least in a brand new restaurant sans the kids. Anything, as long as it made things a bit more exciting.
Well! I think I asked for too much I guess. I was hoping for a little excitement but things got way too exciting. Far more than I could handle.
One fine day, when my husband was out for some work, suddenly he collapsed. The next day he didn’t feel any better. Guessing games began as to what could be the possible culprit.
Hospitalisation followed and lo and behold, he was diagnosed with a condition I could not pronounce and never heard of before. We tried to see the silver lining, that the condition was temporary and reversible. Which meant he could walk again, but the window of waiting time had no sill.
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Bracing for the change
It happened so suddenly. Well, all unexpected things, good or bad, do. I had no time to sit and ponder. Two kids to take care of and now maybe a third.
It started with bribing the gods (the first and the foremost thing we are taught to do under such circumstances. Bhaag Mandir Bhaag). I was no exception. Being a Hindu, the temple was home. Then the buffet happened. Church, Dargah, Gurudwara, the cherry on the top was the black magic.
You name it. We tried it.
Soon my mind became a dramatic stage where a lot of theatre was happening on a daily basis.
Shock, wild reactions, sympathy (I overheard a distant aunt saying, “My God, she is so young. What will happen to her sex life now?” Really?) ruled the roost. To add to it, MIL says, “You are going through so much. That is the reason I’m quiet and tolerate you.” Oh? How thoughtful and sensitive indeed.
Empathy and support from my folks and friends calmed my nerves to a great extent. But the biggest support has been the perpetrator himself.
From learning to work remotely to keeping himself occupied thoroughly, being bed bound, he laughed, joked, learned and taught. I never saw him grumpy, irritable, frustrated or mad. He set an example for himself and others.
Finding your space
Being a caregiver, be it physical or emotional under such circumstances, has an altogether different meaning to it. While as mothers we inherently wear this hat, the same hat gets crumpled if the weather changes.
Seeing your most loved one in a wheelchair day in and day out makes you question the fundamentals.
Fate, karma, why us?
So on and so forth. But love is a choice and a decision and marriage in all its myriad forms is hard work. Disability, even temporary, is present in the physicality, not the relationship. Two people with able bodies can have a disabled relationship. So, what is better? A loose thread there. Tough to answer. But these things made me go back to basics. Which fundamental can be changed?
I have been experiencing varied emotions during this time. Reducing my need to touch, cuddle and sleep (he sleeps in a separate room for practical purposes), to feeling like a widow in colourful clothes, going to functions and weddings alone again for practical purposes. (India simply isn’t wheelchair friendly. There are few ramps anywhere). It feels weird at times.
The kids have adapted to it in a different way. My darling daughter draws the family with the wheelchair included. The youngest has not seen the dad walk and goes out of her way to teach him how to walk. The automatic wheelchair is the latest real toy they can’t get enough of, zooming around the house. The role plays and fights include it.
The wheelchair has overtaken the elephant in the room.
As I continue to wonder and ponder about how long this will last, there is one thing I’m sure of.
If there is a wheel, there is a way.