CHENNAI: It was like any other perfect love story — they met at a camp and exchanged numbers; their phone conversations stretched for hours. Finally, he decided she was the one for him and proposed. She accepted. Then came the time to battle odds like caste and family pressure. Having beaten these, they finally tied the knot two years into their courtship. So what is so different about this couple? They both have visual disability, and at each stage, they have been waging an uphill battle.
Dharman, a native of Thirupattur, is from a low-income family where his father worked as a daily labour to feed his three kids. He completed his postgraduation too, thanks to a sponsorship. Ugandhay grew up with six siblings in a village called Katham Kuppam near Maduranthakam.
Dharman would go to the railway station by 10 am every day to sell barfi and come back to his room in Saidapet at 10.30 pm, making about `400, while Ugandhay stayed at home. Their paths may never have crossed, but life had other plans for them. In 2014, the couple met at a camp for the welfare of people with visual disability in Chennai. They exchanged numbers and later started talking on the phone.
“We did not even know how the other looked. But we felt special when we were together. Till today, it is only through our imaginary faces that we are connected,” says the couple. “Couples fall in love after they see each other; we fell in love just with words -- we would speak for hours on the phone,” smiles Dharman.
“I realised that she was the girl for me. The minute I proposed over the phone, she said yes. I informed my parents, who were against it,” recollects Dharman. The first thing his family told him was that she belongs to MBC (he is from a scheduled caste). “They also feared that we would be dependent on a third person and our children would also be born without vision. But this did not stop me. In fact, it was a chance for me to understand my wife better,” he adds.
Meetings were always a challenge. “We would decide on a landmark and I would seek help from people on the spot to find Ugandhay. Later, I started finding her myself,” he says.
“We had misunderstandings and doubts about our future together. But my husband slowly gave me hope and said we could live happily and prove people wrong. Now, we even cook on our own. We need help only to board trains or buses,” beams Ugandhay.
Being the only girl child in the family, she had a tough time trying to convince her five brothers and father, who thought a ‘normal’ groom would take care of her better. “After fighting with the family, we decided to tie the knot hoping they would agree,” says Ugandhey.
“It took them two years to agree, and it was only on our wedding day that the family agreed to come for the wedding,” she adds. Love is blind goes the saying, and the couple proved this as they tied the knot in Maduranthakam recently. Even after getting married, finding a house was difficult, as the couple were denied houses citing their disability. They finally found a house close to Ugandhay’s parents’ house.
“Life will not be a red of roses for us, but we are prepared to face the odds,” says Dharman.