I also learnt about the “body beautiful” concept. Traditionally, women are only considered to look beautiful and that is it. Most men desire their women to be attractive and beautiful. As far as a disabled woman is concerned, she always gets unnoticed because her body is different.

An American feminist writer and researcher, Susan Rendall, has called it a “rejected body”. Thoughts that occurred to me at that time were about some of my failed relationships with men. They must have only seen my body and rejected me. I have had a hard time accepting that I am trapped in a rejected body. A body that is not sexually attractive.

Some people question whether sex is that important. Well, in Xavier’s I have studied psychology. Sex is a basic physiological need that even animals have. Like any other person my age, I adore romances. Being in the mainstream of life, one sees a lot of images of a man and a woman together. As I grew older, I naturally desired sex and a relationship. Like most women, sometimes I craved to be in the arms of a man.

Most men look at me as asexual.

I actually found that society also assumes that disabled women should not have sexual urges, should not even think to include disabled people – but what about including their physical and emotional needs? It is crazy but society on the one hand thinks that disabled people should lead normal lives, but when it comes to the crunch of having an intimate relationship with a person who is disabled, they get scared and pretend that the problem is not theirs.

The thought of having an intimate relationship with someone who is different does not even cross their minds. Disabled people are often kept at a distance, as the so-called normal people think that becoming involved with a disabled person would be an onerous situation. My article No Sex Please, You’re Disabled, in the Metropolis on Saturday, September 1996, had alerted the public that people with disabilities were not children anymore; we had thoughts too, which could be adult thoughts, desires, feelings, passions and expectations like any other non-disabled person.

Like everyone else, I did have the desire for sex.

Once when I brought up the subject, people around me started whispering and I was told, “Why would you need sex?”

That was the reaction of some of those who called themselves professionals of the Spastics Society. I thought of how they lived in tiny boxes and how small their spaces were. I promptly wrote the article.

Did it make an impact? I do not think so. I did have outbursts as, at times, I found life extremely painful. During those moments, I collapsed in tears but I always chose the night and cried quietly. My mother says if she asked me why I was crying I would usually say, “You know why.” She too would go away and cry.

When I am in an emotional state, I cannot figure why the tears keep rolling down; I cannot control them. Of course I have normal desires that are hidden and left in a box with a lid never to be opened. But sometimes, the lid slips open and the tears are let loose. It is but natural that I ask myself, “Will I be like everyone else? Will I be normal?”

It needs a lot of grit and determination to be different and stand out. I am determined to fight and win! The positive side in me takes over and I keep those painful thoughts away from cousin Aditi’s wedding to Khalid.

I was staying with Kaka and Vrinda. I collapsed into floods of tears for no apparent reason. After an age, my uncontrollable tears stopped and I tried to verbalise my emotional outbursts of needing a partner, like most people around me. Both Vrinda and Kaka, poor things, were shocked and did not know what to do or say.

“Yes I agree with you. You should satisfy your sexual needs”, said Vrinda.

But of course no one knew how. Weddings tended to have that affect on me as they were a reminder that I possibly would not ever share such an equation with someone.

I must say I was better during my brother Nicky’s wedding to Natasha. I had become more detached. I did not any more think the only way forward was marriage. Also Natasha (now of course my good friend) being American, having been exposed to disability much more than an Indian woman, is very inclusive. She includes me automatically, not needing to be prompted.

As time progressed, I began developing a close emotional relationship with a close male friend online. The other thought that I learnt and of course experienced is that disabled people are looked down upon as a burden on society. Susan Wendell writes that any society despises an adult who needs help to eat, wash and to use the toilet. She also goes on to say how the same culture promotes the self-deception that “independent” adults do not need another’s help and ignore the thinking that we are all profoundly dependent on one another.

Everyone is inter-dependent.

If one lives in a family for example (be it if one has a disability or not), we are all in a way interdependent or co-dependent ­ socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Are not we dependent on the plumber, the electrician, the computer technician?

To give my own example, while my mother was doing her doctorate, we used to share the household chores. While I did all the outside chores, like the shopping, the laundry, posting letters, she did all the cooking and cleaning of the house. We were both co-dependent. She was dependent on me, little old me! In my opinion, to ignore this factor of co-dependency would be to move towards a most self-centred, self-focused world and ignore the support that people like me give.

Excerpted with permission from: One Little Finger, by Malini Chib, SAGE India.