Delhi

Willpower unmarred for couple on wheelchair

Deepak and Achala got married in 2017.

Deepak and Achala got married in 2017.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

They believe wheels do not make a difference, people can lead a very normal life

Around 10 a.m., Deepak Maggo (31) sat on his wheelchair and stepped out of his house. He hopped on to his car and showed how he drives to work everyday using a hand-operated kit.

Deepak’s wife Achala, 32, a senior tax assistant in the Income Tax office, drives an SUV. “Mujhe hamesha bhagna tha, udna tha. Bas rengna nahi tha [I always wanted to run, to fly. I never wanted to crawl],” she said.

Deepak and Achala, both wheelchair users, got married in April 2017 after meeting on Facebook two years before that. Today, their message to wheelchair-bound people is that they can lead a “very normal” life and the wheels should not make a difference.

Ms. Achala took completely to wheels in 2014, months after she met with a car accident near her house in Ashok Vihar. Recalling the incident, she said she had pressed the accelerator instead of applying brake and rammed a car. The incident, she said, left a scarring impact on her mental health.

Spinal illness

“I was about three years old when the doctors diagnosed me with a spinal illness. I was able to walk properly till I was eight, but an operation went wrong. Since then, I used a stick to walk and underwent a series of therapies, including stem cell, but nothing helped. After the accident, I started suffering from mental illness and took medicines. I could not deal with it and thought of ending my life ,” she said.

College dropout

Another setback she recalled, was when she had to drop out of a Delhi University college during graduation. There was lack of infrastructure, classes were on first floor and I was falling randomly, she said. “I recall giving up hope completely that year. But then I studied German and took tuitions at home. Meanwhile, I took Staff Selection Commission Exam and finally got a government job in 2014. Life has been better since then because people are extremely helpful and infrastructure at work is also very supportive,” she said.

Mr. Maggo, on the other hand, comes from a fairly humble background. “I was always independent because I learnt to “crawl” very early in my life. I rarely used a wheelchair till a few years ago. I used to always crawl. I remember crawling in front of 500 people when I was preparing for Chartered Accountant exams and no one made me feel any less,” he said. Mr. Maggo could not clear the examination but now works as a supervisor at the New Delhi Railway Station.

The couple said that wheelchair-bound people connect with each other on Facebook to be able to share their woes and that is how the two met. Mr. Maggo sent a friend request to Ms. Achala. They met, she counselled him into going out of his comfort zone and join sports activities. In the second meeting, he proposed marriage to her.

Ms. Achala recalled taking a year and a half to decide whether it was a wise decision to marry someone who is also on a wheelchair.

“My mother was very possessive. She was not sure whether two wheelchair-bound people would be able to lead a good life. But we discussed how it would be better for us to be together because we were both in the same position and would be able to understand each other better,” she said.

Making trips

The two went to Dubai for their honeymoon and have been taking trips across India since marriage. They make sure the accommodation they are selecting has no accessibility issues. “We also check if the washroom doors can let our wheelchairs in; it is very important,” said Ms. Achala.

She is thankful to her husband for making her confident about travelling, something she was apprehensive about before she met him. “I went to Vaishno Devi with my friends 10 years ago and crawled all the way up. It built my confidence,” said Mr. Maggo.

They have shared travelling videos on their YouTube channel named “Perfect Couple on Wheelchair”. But how do they call themselves a perfect couple? “I support him mentally and emotionally and he supports me physically,” she smiles.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:41:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/willpower-unmarred-for-couple-on-wheelchair/article29311843.ece

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