Jyoti and Roopesh have been married for four years and are raising a daughter together

Breaking The Shackles Of Disabilities, This Couple Is Redefining ‘Happy Marriage’

This Valentines’ Day, Jyoti and Roopesh from Bengaluru, share their journey as a couple, fighting the challenges posed by their disabilities

Written By: | Edited By: | February 14, 2024 हिन्दी में पढ़े

New Delhi: Every morning, Jyoti helps Roopesh button cuffs, zip his jacket and tie shoelaces when needed since Roopesh is constrained with a paralyzed left side. On his part, whenever the house requires deep cleaning, Roopesh takes responsibility and dusts the walls. He becomes Jyoti’s eyes anytime they step out of the house. “We aren’t adjusting with each other. We are living our happy life. It’s the best part of my life that I am living right now,” says 44-year-old Roopesh Shashidharan.

Roopesh was diagnosed with Meningitis at the age of five, resulting in the weakening of the left side of the body.

At 26, Jyoti was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive degenerative eye disorder that mostly renders one blind.

This Valentine’s Day, Jyoti and Roopesh share their love story that continues to transcend all challenges of disabilities and stereotypes daily.

Throwback Time! Encountering Disability And Learning To Live With It

“We can’t accept a girl who can’t see. What work will she do?” These were the disparaging remarks Jyoti had to deal with in her former in-laws house when she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, at the age of 26. Just one year after marriage, Jyoti was sent divorce papers because of her visual impairment. Recalling the ordeal, Jyoti said,

“When swelling was reported in my brain, I was admitted and kept in hospital for a month. I was given high doses of medicines, resulting in memory loss and sudden vision loss. Overnight, my life turned black; losing all the colours. My vision isn’t stable; I can see only 10-20 per cent.”

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Life started throwing new challenges at her every day. Like, using a washroom all by herself in the middle of the night, in her big house in Agra meant banging into walls and articles. “My life turned upside down but my parents held the fort and supported me,” said Jyoti and added,

“For the initial two to three years, I stayed with them but then wondered, till when I can sit at home like this, being completely dependent on my parents? I decided to take hold of my life and started slowly with household chores. I learned to cook and clean.”

Jyoti then applied to blind schools to adapt to the new life and got admission to a seven-month computer course at EnAble India in Bengaluru. There she met Roopesh Shashidharan, working as a Senior System Administrator.

Roopesh was diagnosed with Meningitis, after repetitive complaints of headaches. Initially, parents and doctors assumed that Roopesh’s frequent bouts of headache were an excuse to not go to school. It was only when the left side of his body became weak, rendering him handicapped, the cause of his ailment came to the forefront.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Roopesh recalled,

“I was bedridden soon after the diagnosis. I couldn’t open my left eye. My left hand got twisted upside down. It was straightened after surgery but even today, I can’t hold anything with it. All sorts of treatments were tried and tested on me. My parents stopped my schooling and took me to Kerala for Ayurvedic treatment but nothing worked. My parents restricted me further by not letting me step out of the house. Only after I started college, I was introduced to the real world.”

Despite a lack of support from his parents, Roopesh started working in the IT sector in his school days. When he was in class 8, he started assembling desktops and fixing his computer whenever any issue cropped up.

He started his career with door-to-door sales and marketing but gradually came back to technology. Roopesh has been working in the IT sector for 23 years now. Sharing some of the challenges he faces daily, he added,

“Whenever someone told me ‘you can’t do it’. I said, ‘I will’ and I did. For instance, I drive 25 km one way to work daily. My left hand doesn’t work properly and my leg is weak but I still drive a two-wheeler. Working in the IT sector involves a lot of Excel work and I do it with one hand.”

Roopesh found a life partner through a matrimonial site but their marriage ended in divorce after nearly a decade. His ex-partner was economically well off which led to differences between the two.

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When Love Blossomed

Neither disabilities nor failed marriages could stop Jyoti and Roopesh from finding love again.

“There is ‘ability’ in the word ‘disability’. When I found Jyoti, I didn’t see her disability. We found a companion and support system in each other,” says Roopesh.

However, when the duo decided to tie the knot, they were met with objections. Roopesh’s family cut off all ties with him. He added,

“My mother didn’t support Jyoti because of her disability. She asked how Jyoti would manage the house with her visual impairment or raise a child.”

On the contrary, Jyoti had lost her biggest support system, her father, by the time she decided to marry Roopesh. She first shared the news with her sister who said,

“Who will take care of you after your parents? You cannot spend your life alone. If you think Roopesh is the right guy, go ahead.”

Their colleagues arranged to get them married in a temple.

Breaking The Shackles Of Disabilities, This Couple Is Redefining ‘Happy Marriage’

Roopesh and Jyoti with their daughter Serah

“I believe finding love depends on mental compatibility and not a physical disability. We have been happily married for four years and finding our way through it. For instance, it is impossible to commute via public buses with Jyoti. Or if we are travelling via train and Jyoti needs to use the washroom, I have to accompany her while ensuring somebody is there to take care of our three-year-old daughter Serah” said Roopesh.

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Similarly, Jyoti sometimes struggles with household chores when her three-year-old moves the stuff from their usual position. She cooks by using her sense organs – touch and feel.

Further talking about navigating through their disabilities, Roopesh said,

“We make our daughter wear anklets all the time so that my wife can locate her with the sound of bells. Every time I am away from my family, I am constantly worried about what’s happening back home. For instance, yesterday, my daughter applied lipstick all over her body and even painted the walls. There are certain things you cannot control.”

Jyoti feels overjoyed, spending her life with Roopesh. She says,

“Look beyond someone’s disability.”

It is their love for each other and their firm belief in the mutual partnership that helps the couple sail through their disabilities and live a happily married life.

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