(Disclaimer: The photographs have been used with the permission of the author)
The crayon-covered walls of the quaint government service quarters of the Kanojiya family gives you a look into what their lives are like. Just like the walls, their lives are full of colour. Yes, colours are not only limited to what the eyes can see; they permeate into our lives and personalities. The Kanojiya couple and their love marriage of eight years is testimony.
Mr Kanojiya used to teach computers at an All India Confederation Of The Blinds (AICB) hostel, where Ms Kumari was staying during her graduation years. It started with discussing doubts over computer classes, and then over phone calls, and the gradual transformation in their relationship took six years, before they finally tied the knot in 2012. Now, eight years hence, that love is more secure than your average rom-com couple. One does not have to make any effort to see that or even capture it on camera.
Raising Sensitive Children
The two, in themselves, are a universe — add to that two little kids. The kids — one who’s just started school, and the other a toddler who’s a little over two-years-old, seem sensitive already. The toddler, unlike other kids her age who spend hours watching cartoons, does not leave her mother’s side, no matter what she’s doing. The older one, on the other hand, loves to chat with anybody who’ll listen: he’ll tell you how his new pencil box works, and how the videos on YouTube ‘tell the same story’ every time.
The mother, as busy as mothers are, never scolds the little one, no matter how difficult it gets for her to do her housework. She has all the patience in the world for her. I can vouch for their patience, because they were so patient with me, never trying to rush me while I was photographing them, or being irritable when I would ask them to do different things for the camera. In fact, the couple were so busy talking to each other, that they became oblivious to the presence of the camera.
Overcoming Challenges Together
Bringing up two kids in a bustling city like Delhi NCR can be tough. Ms Kumari, who’s an official Language Officer at Union Bank, Gurgaon, and Mr Kanojiya who is a government employee, often find it difficult to make time for their kids, like most working parents. The camera installed inside their home shows their concern for the well-being and safety of their kids.
But they are used to the challenges by now — even their marriage had a fair share of challenges, because people just couldn’t imagine two blind people living together and raising a family.
Not only their family members, even neighbours and others — who somehow felt they had a say in their life choices — said that it was ‘impossible’, that the ‘kids would also be blind’, that ‘this would never work.’
But it has — they’ve been married for eight years after all.
Breaking Societal Stereotypes
Ms Kumari tells me that while a lot of people believe marriage can be restrictive, she says in her case, it’s made her more independent; now there is someone who treats her as an equal, and not someone who feels the need to be patronising.
‘Ah! Society and its beliefs!’, Ms Kumari exclaims. She mentions how society has categorised them as either ‘God’s children’ or as people who are ‘paying for the sins of their past life’. She mentions instances in which people have randomly handed her money. She says, even after all these years, and despite whatever she’s done or achieved, this view hasn’t changed — the view that the visually impaired can’t live and work independently like anybody else.
You see, both Ms Kumari and Mr Kanojiya are so many things — being blind is just a small part of who they are. But no matter what they do, the world around them always sees them through a particular lens, which either has a tint of sympathy or apathy or mere amazement.
This is the story of an ordinary couple who also happen to be blind. This is an ode to this lovely family, who are as ‘normal’ as it can get.
(The author is a journalism student at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, and has an interest in films and politics. This is a personal blog, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)