An Accident On Their Second Anniversary Changed Their Lives

An Accident On Their Second Anniversary Changed Their Lives

NEON

Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Camerapersons: Abhishek Ranjan and Sumit Badola

8 October 2011.

Shishir, 38, and Nishi Bhatnagar, 34, still remember that day as if it had happened yesterday.

It was their second wedding anniversary, and also the wedding of Shishir’s cousin. A resort in Goa had been booked. The whole family was together for the pre-wedding festivities. Nishi and Shishir had just cut a cake for their anniversary. But moments later, tragedy struck. An accident changed their lives forever.

Shishir and Nishi Bhatnagar, a few moments before the accident in Goa.
Shishir and Nishi Bhatnagar, a few moments before the accident in Goa.
(Photo Courtesy: Shishir Bhatnagar)

Shishir had fallen into a pool — his head had struck the floor and his spinal cord had been damaged.

Your body just switches off. You can hear stuff and you can see stuff, but suddenly you can’t feel your body anymore.
Shishir Bhatnagar

Doctors later informed him that he was paralysed from below his neck, which in medical terms is known as Quadriplegia. Shishir, the man who loved biking and all manner of adventure sports, suddenly could not feel his own body anymore.

Shishir had always loved and admired the seas — his father had been an officer in the Navy and he too had cruised through them as part of his work as a Merchant Navy officer. But the tragedy of it all is that the same water — that had once given him so much joy — had now taken away so much from him.

Injuries, like the one Shishir sustained, don’t just crush your way of life; they also crush your soul, your will to live, to do anything. But Nishi, Shishir’s wife, wasn’t the kind to rue their fate or allow her husband to plunge into darkness.

Determined to get him to be as independent as possible, Nishi would drive him to physiotherapy sessions from morning to evening, at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, which is the largest rehab centre for spinal cord injuries in Asia. When Shishir didn’t want to, she would fight with him and take him anyway. This was after all, a matter of Shishir’s well being and Nishi would just not compromise.

Shishir and Nishi Bhatnagar
Shishir and Nishi Bhatnagar
(Photo Courtesy: Shishir Bhatnagar)

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Fast forward to 2019. Nishi is still as possessive about driving Shishir around, and wouldn’t let anyone behind the wheels if he is in the car. The lady sure loves being in the driver’s seat!

Shishir now works from home as a consultant for a Hong Kong-based nautical company. While Nishi, who earlier taught at a design institute, has set up her own home bakery, ‘Chocolate Therapy by Nishi’, so she can be with her husband at all times.

The couple live together with their little bundle of joy, Snuffy, a cocker spaniel.

Having a dog takes away the negativity
Shishir Bhatnagar

Snuffy wakes Shishir up, fights with him, and brings a smile to his face every time. Meanwhile, Shishir has gone back to adventure sports, having recently done paragliding and scuba diving (under special instructors) too!

Both, Shishir and Nishi, have gotten tattoos of each other on their arms. While Nishi has got the word, Love with a wheelchair inscribed on her arm, Shishir has gotten Nishi’s name inscribed on his. Oh, by the way, did I tell you, the couple hates romantic movies!

In many ways, Nishi and Shishir’s love story is ordinary. After all, doesn’t every relationship, no matter what, face difficulties of some kind or the other? But the true test of a relationship is sticking through together, and coming out stronger on the other side. And that is precisely why, their story is extraordinary.

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