Introduction

Beauty and the Beast – #MyTaleToo

Beauty and the Beast – #MyTaleToo

Hi! So I am, Beauty Kaur and this is my story.

Where do I begin? I guess I will just begin at the very start. My father was a very rich merchant and my mother was the most melodious musician in the city. When she played the piano the audience would sit in rapture and listen. I loved my mother. I remember her vividly. Like when she would tuck me into bed, or wrap her arms around me to comfort me. When I was only 5 years old, my mother died in a car accident. My father was devastated, but he never let it show. He took on the responsibility of raising me and caring for me.

I was always a bright student in school. And I loved interacting with people and making new friends. I was an extrovert who loved to learn and explore new things. From dance to adventure trips, they were all my passion. I would face every hurdle head on and I never gave up. I knew who and what I wanted to be. But one fateful day, all of this changed. It was the day when I was 18 and diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. It is a vision disorder. It is a genetic disorder which leads to a gradual and permanent loss of eyesight. For the first few months, I was in denial. I believed it was a phase and would get cured and my guardian angel would not let this happen to me. But by the time I was 20, I had lost most of my sight.

Everything had changed. My grades started to slip, I started to withdraw from my friends, and I stopped stepping out of my house too often because it became so difficult. All this while, I felt alone. I could not tell my father as he had his own problems to deal with, and I felt talking about my problems will worry him too much. I began to worry about the future, something I was so sure of, suddenly became the most daunting aspect about my life. Who would employ me? All my friends became distant. How could they understand something that even I could not fully comprehend? Loneliness was a pit I kept falling into deeper and deeper. I guess, I was just waiting for life to get better.

One weekend I felt like going out. It was one of my better days. I had woken up feeling happy. I was still learning to be independent and I reached out to my friends. But nobody was available. I then discovered through another friend that they had all gone out camping and they did not even consider asking me because of the fact that I was blind! This popped my little balloon of happiness and I was back again in the pit of loneliness, deeper than ever. I could not keep it in anymore and I broke down in front of my father, who took me in his arms, worried. He asked me, “What’s wrong Beauty? What is hurting you so badly?” And I told him everything. He then said something to me that may seem like a very common advice but in that phase of my life, it struck a chord with me. He said, “Shift your focus on things that are totally in your control, stop focusing on things that are not in your control anymore. Life has many things to offer just open yourself to newer ideas.”

5 years passed and although I had tried many remedies in the hope to get better, my new me was striving to become independent,  to forge new friendships and to learn from other visually impaired persons like me. I began to climb out of the pit, one step at a time. One day, I went into my father’s room looking for something. And I came across my mother’s dusty old piano. I sat down and pressed one key. The sound was like an electric shock through my veins. I began to imitate the movements that my mother would make, and although I was not playing a particular tune, the music seemed to give me an unexplainable amount of pleasure.

I started learning the piano and with the new found optism within me, life seemed to be getting better. I had become an independent and bold disabled woman.

One day when I reached home, I was surprised to hear my aunt’s voice. I hadn’t seen her since my mother had passed away. She was my mom’s best friend. She began to cry as soon as I told her about my condition. She invited me to her place to spend a few days with her. I got excited because I was looking at a few music colleges around the country and her house was very close to the one I had my eyes on. I used this to convince my father to let me go!

On our way to her house, we caught up on all the years that had passed. She told me about her work and her family. She talked about her only son, Balwinder. I had not met Ballu in so many years! I was looking forward to meeting him again.

Upon reaching, everybody came to greet me, except for Balwinder. This puzzled me. I enquired about him and aunty simply said, he’s in his room. He generally keeps to himself. During dinner I heard someone coming down the stairs, and I knew it was Ballu. Excitedly I shouted, “Hi Ballu! Remember me? Beauty! Beauty Kaur!” He snapped, “no one calls me Ballu, just call me Beast. That is who I am now.” I didn’t understand his behaviour. As the night progressed, his behaviour only seemed to turn me off even more. He kept screaming at aunty unnecessarily only because she had not cooked his favourite dish. I did not want to be present for this. I felt very bad and made myself as small as possible and tried to blend in with the furniture. After a while, he noticed me. Like he really noticed me, and calmed down. He tried to make conversation. I replied in monosyllables. I did not like him one bit. But this did not seem to deter him. He asked me what did I like the most, I replied “Music”. He got excited and asked me to join him for a concert that night. I declined. I said I was very tired and went to bed.

Over the next few days, he tried very hard to engage me in conversation. He would flirt with me lightly, constantly ask me out. But I kept turning him down. His rudeness and misbehaviour was stuck in my head and it was almost that we didn’t communicate in the same language. One day, I was practising my piano in the room, when he sauntered in with his violin. He didn’t say a word but started playing. We jammed together for hours. I had never played like that before. It was exhilarating. I did not know that he was capable of playing like that. This became a routine every evening. He started getting calmer and less rude overall and I started to get to know him. He was a lovely companion. We had established the common language of music now. One day he offered to walk me to the music class. At the crossing he took my hand but I refused, I immediately told him “I will take your arm. I will follow you but not walk with you pulling and forcing me forward.” He agreed. He was beginning to appreciate my sensitivity and independent spirit. By now I had started to like him too.

One morning, my neighbour from back home called me. My Father had suffered a heart attack. I rushed home. I did not even have the time to say goodbye to the Beast. I stayed back to look after my father. I was forlorn. I missed the Beast very much. I knew he missed me too. One day, when I finally found the time to catch up with my emails, I got goose bumps hearing his name. The screenreader’s voice was nowhere as sexy as the beast’s. He had written a long mail. I can never forget that feeling. He had written to me about how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He wrote this beautiful thing which touched my heart. He wrote, Beauty you hate it when people call you specially abled because you think that it is sympathetic. You are completely okay with being called disabled. I really love you for that. You are complete in yourself. No one can ever complete you. You have changed me completely as a person. I have fallen in love with my life only because of you. Beauty even though I have sight you have corrected my eyesight to deal with circumstances. I would like to blindly follow you on the path of life.  I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Beauty I can only physically escort you but only you can escort me correctly out of any situation.

I could not have asked for more. We got married soon and lived happily ever after.

Written by Malavika Sharma

*This story was written as part of Rising Flame’s One Billion Rising Campaign where we rise for the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

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