Saathi organized ‘Love at NO Sight’ – an interactive session on what’s love for blind people, on 12th November 2020, through an online meet on Microsoft Teams in the presence of Mr. Sandeep Kumar Trivedi and Mrs. Vandana Trivedi, a couple who conducts matrimonial meets for blind individuals.
The session began at 5.00 p.m. with the introduction to the programme by Bhakti, one of the Student Coordinators. She invited Mahima, our blind student, to share her views on love and how it is perceived in general. Mahima beautifully expressed that often, we are too concerned about the physical appearance and materialistic aspects of a person while looking for a partner, but the only love that truly lasts is the one which accepts and appreciates a person as and how they are. She also spoke about how a blind person and a sighted person can make a good couple, as opposed to the mindset which our society forms because of certain conventions, citing the example of the Paralympic Champion Bhavesh Bhatia.
Bhakti then introduced our guest couple, Mr. and Mrs. Trivedi. Among them, Mr. Trivedi is blind and Mrs. Trivedi is sighted. Mr. Trivedi is a lecturer at Government Higher Secondary School, Makhupura, Ajmer and has been working for education, employment and empowerment of blind people along with his colleagues. He is associated with almost 3000 blind individuals across the country. Mrs. Trivedi has been a constant support system for him through all these endeavors. Together, they arrange matrimonial meets for bling as well as sighted individuals.
Mr. Trivedi took us through the activities of ‘Recording Club’ founded by him, which provides educational resources and daily newspaper in audio format to VI individuals. Talking about the reason behind initiating matrimonial meets, he said that when it comes to marriage and relationships, blind people face many difficulties in finding a partner – first of all because of misconceptions prevailing in our society and second of all, a narrow-minded attitude towards those without sight. He and his team thought over this and realized that it was important in the first place, to make conversations among people happen. Thus, they began arranging online meets during lockdown, and the response was massive. Hundreds of people were interested; not just blind or disabled but even sighted individuals who came forward – some voluntarily willing to marry a person with disability.
Many people discard the idea of a sighted person marrying a blind person as ‘weird’ or ‘unlikely’ under assumptions that they themselves must be having some ‘faults’ if they’re doing so. The failure is in looking at blindness or any other disability as a ‘fault’. When people marry, it shouldn’t be because their partner has fewer faults but because they have the ability to acknowledge and adore their best inner qualities. People doubt that such couples won’t be able to manage things and will have to handle too much, but in reality, it is not so; expressed Mr. Trivedi from his personal experiences.
The first question which came up was whether it is really the case that the sighted one is burdened with responsibilities and the blind one is dependent on them for everything when they are a couple. Answering this, Mrs. Trivedi explained that it is just that some roles can be identified and decided among the couple, some roles might get exchanged – the only question that remains is whether we want to do it or not. And it’s untrue that the blind one is a dependent person. They are a lot more able than one presumes. Identifying who can do what chores and dividing them amongst both accordingly is the simple equation. The key to it is having confidence in each other, being strong yourself and along with your partner.
Another interesting question which was very aptly discussed was – Is love enough to bring two people closer to each other? Mr. Trivedi said that love is not instant, it develops over time. The first thing that comes before love is knowing each other enough; seeing if there are some common interests which make a connection between you. So companionship and compatibility have to be there along with love.
Impressed by the achievements of Mr. Trivedi, a question was asked as to how he has become so successful in so less a time despite being blind. His take on defining success was very inspiring; “Success isn’t how quickly or how much you are achieving at any given point – it is how much your purpose is getting served. And indeed, the definition of success is subjective. Blindness is not an obstacle. Blind people just need to believe in themselves. They can do everything which an ordinary person can do. We only need to go out there and explore.”
Further, he explained to us the flow of the process of matrimonial meets and the way they go about matchmaking. Mrs. Trivedi shared their own story from which we could learn some really important and often misconstrued things about relationships and love. The stronger the base of friendship, the stronger will be the bond of love. True love doesn’t allow pretense; it only accepts you the way you are and for that you yourself need to be free and genuine before the other person. Love is not sympathy. It should empower both the people involved.
Our blind students also asked some questions from their perspective like; How can we really trust someone for life? What about the expectations which the other person has from life? What about their fulfillment? Mr. and Mrs. Trivedi, very practically assured us that though we cannot and should not trust someone very quickly, trust is something that is built over time and a trustworthy person can be easily guessed by their actions and the concern they have for us. There is nothing wrong in having expectations. The only thing is that those must be communicated before making decisions about marriage.
Rushikesh, our blind student expressed himself heartily talking about love being similar for everyone in the lines of Marathi poet Mangesh Padgaonkar. He conveyed the message that bridging this gap between blind and sighted, abled and disabled is very necessary in our society to change the way we look at them and form opinions about them.
Dhiraj, our Student Coordinator, concluded the session suggesting that the reason we are feeling the need to have a session for understanding how blind people love is because we have not really succeeded in integrating ‘them’ and ‘us’ to the fullest. Everyone must come forward and take responsibility to spread awareness on disability. On one hand, where we are busy finding the perfect one, not realizing that we ourselves are not perfect, blind people tend to accept others with all their shortcomings. No one asks a sighted person how they love. But love doesn’t look for who is blind and who is sighted; it just follows its path through everyone’s heart.
The program ended at 6.30 p.m. with a total 227 hearts pounding out of joy.
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