#LovePossible - What happened when Satendra Singh met his Paro
And in our Valentine's Day series #LovePossible, we bring you the story of disability rights crusader Dr Satendra Singh and his better half, Ranjita. What happened when they first met nearly 15 years ago. Read on to find out.
Satendra Singh clearly remembers the day he met his wife, Ranjita Phalswal for the first time.
"I am a big fan of the actor Anil Kapoor and there is this song in the film Parinda Tumse milkar aisa laga, which he sings to the character Paro, played by Madhuri Dixit. "When I set eyes on Ranjita, I knew I had met my Paro", recalls Dr Singh.
He was so convinced that she was his dream girl that he nagged his sisters-in-law to convince his parents. "I loved her eyes and her caring nature; she was so lovely, that I was worried I might lose her."
That first meeting is equally vivid in Ranjita's mind. "We met at my place and our families told us to speak to each other. I was not bothered about his disability or how he walked but was more concerned about whether he was a smoker or a drinker. I wanted to see kaisa feel aata hain and I liked him a lot. Bas click click click karta gaya." It also helped that Ranjeeta and Dr Singh loved the same song.
Fifteen years and two children later, that "feel" Ranjita talks about still endures.
I need respect and space from my partner, and I get that from Satendra. He is not a romantic person by nature. He is the kind who will wish me 'happy birthday' on Facebook but not to my face. His way of expressing his feelings is different but I know he will always be there and do things without my even asking him. And that matters much more to me than romantic cards. - Ranjita Phalswal
It also helped that both their families were incredibly supportive of their decision. Dr Singh was never made to feel conscious about his disability, which was not the case with some of the earlier proposals that came his way.
"My father said, 'it's up to you', while my mother was very positive and said Satendra looks nice when he smiles", says Ranjita. "We got married at an inclusive set-up with a ramp", adds Dr Singh. "Her family has always accepted me and never shown any doubt in me".
Over the years, they have learned as well as leaned on each other. He credits her support for his success as a disability rights leader, while she finds his fighting spirit inspiring.
"In the early years of our marriage, we stayed in Rohtak and we were traveling by bus", recalls Ranjita. "I was pregnant and though we had confirmed seats, some youth had occupied them, and I had to stand right through. Satendra was arguing with the conductor about this because he wanted me to be seated and the conductor did not agree. Later Satendra told the conductor 'you better remember me' and he followed the case until we got an apology. I love the fact that he is such a fighter".
On his part, Dr Singh credits Ranjita for supporting him while he takes up various issues.
"She takes care of everything on the home front. The time I should be spending with my wife and kids is spent on activism, but they are generous and understanding. The other day, while looking through my son's diary, I found he had made an entry of how to say good morning in sign language. That was when it struck me how in small ways, we are changing each other's worlds".
What is his advice to singles looking to find a soulmate on Valentine's Day? "Speak to the other person and take your time to decide, don't be in a hurry. It's a crucial decision as your future life depends on it. There is someone special for you, whether you are disabled or non-disabled."
Read the other stories in our #LovePossible series