Gopika Anand’s spirit was undiminished even after she was left paralyzed waist down, after a fall at the age of 21. She talks about her journey to motherhood.
We all undergo experiences which change the course of our life. My life took a rather sporadic turn when I was 21 years old, during the very peak of my youth. I fell from the 4th floor of a balcony, and this fall left me paralyzed waist down. It was a D3-D4 level spinal cord injury, and I lost complete control of my bladder and bowel system. I couldn’t experience any sensation in the areas below my waist, and my lack of hold over my own body left me frightened. I was operated at Apollo Hospital, and I was informed that I had lost mobility in my feet. I would never walk again.
For a very long time, I was too numb to make peace with my situation. I was a young woman, full of dreams and desires. I was an excellent student, studying as a 2nd year B-Tech Student from Nagpur. After this incident, all of my routines collapsed. All of my interests didn’t matter any longer. I cried for the first time in two months, after finally grasping the severity of my situation. My family held me during this personal crisis and persistently encouraged me. Until this date, they remain to be strong foundational aspects of my life.
My accident had sucked every spark in me, and I decided to quit my studies for a year. I instead, spent 5 months at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) Rehab Institute in Delhi. I encountered tons of people who underwent similar experiences such as I did, and yet continued to pick up the frayed threads of their life and move forward. Their zest and joie de vivre inspired me, and I decided to go back home to Nagpur and resume my academic life. I underwent some challenges to commute to my classrooms, but with my mother’s firm support, I accomplished all of it. I completed my MTech in Cosmetics Technology and moved to Mumbai. I got a well-paid job at Godrej Consumer Products and spent 6 years working as a senior scientist in their Research and Development Department. I won numerous awards, and was highly revered for formulating various products including Cinthol, an entirely new range of soaps, deodorants and body wash.
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During my period of fruitful job accomplishments, I encountered Abhinav. He proposed to me during our school re-union party. Abhinav is working as a Chartered Accountant in one of the leading consulting firms in Mumbai. He was attracted to me because my drive and passion towards life impressed him. He respected my adaptive nature to make the most of my circumstances post injury, and made a conscious effort to understand the medical complications it entailed. I never played it down for him, and he understood the repercussions of my conditions; the loss of sensation, bladder and bowel control, the sores on my body. We dealt with it together. He accepted me for who I was, with all the ups and downs that came along with marrying me, but yet, he always made me believe that I was worth the effort.
We moved to Ranchi right after we got married. Abhinav modified our apartment to make movement easier for me, for I use a wheelchair. Soon after, he quit his job to establish his own milk product processing plant, and launched his own brand: OSAM.
Initially, I was concerned about the mountain of responsibilities that come along with a marriage; being a wife, a daughter-in law and a home-maker. But a routine kicked in, and I found myself perfectly adept at managing the house-hold independently. Abhinav and I built a nest together out of mutual understanding, respect and acceptance of one another.
With his support, I began working for advocacy in an NGO, Deepshikha which is an institute for Child Development and Mental Health care, along with the Jharjhand Vikland Jan Forum in Ranchi. I am also functioning as a Coordinator for the Accessible Ranchi Campaign. My disability does not prevent me from balancing my personal and professional life efficiently.
A natural next progression of our marriage was to have a child of our own. Inspite of the hurdles that come along with being differently abled, I found a team of wonderful doctors who supported my decision of being a mother. Motherhood was a new transition in my life. It changed me as person. She changed me as woman; my bundle of joy, Aishvi. Having her was a liberating and life-altering experience for me. Her beautiful presence added a dynamic meaning to my very own existence.
I feel blessed to have such a loving family. Abhinav is loving, gentle, supportive and an ideal life companion. My relationship with him has taught me that it is essential to remain optimistic, and give life a chance when it puts you down. If you stumble upon a partner who loves you, and accepts your limitations, you should jump on the chance and not let go. With mutual trust and understanding, a couple can overcome every hurdle.
Blossom with every obstacle and cherish every bitter-sweet experience. Love is a transformational experience. Dive into it.
(This post has been republished from Inclov)
-An original story of Gopika Anand
Written by Neenu Kewlani, edited by Meghna Prakash
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