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“I did not do any housework while growing up. My mother did everything for me”

When Manoj Jangde of JVPAS in Chhattisgarh took Vicky Roy for a photo-shoot of Rajkumari Kurrey (44), she was in her married sister Pooja’s house in Bilaspur along with her nephews Anmol (11) and Ayush (7) and niece Payal (10). Rajkumari and her husband Ramsurat (40), who were both rendered 100 per cent blind after a severe attack of chickenpox in childhood, live in Delhi and were married in 2015.
Rajkumari’s father Basantlal Kurrey was a mason in Bilaspur. He and his wife Rambai had struggled to bring up their four girls and two boys. Rajkumari did not go to school but a church missionary, “Daniel-Sir”, offered to teach her. A blind teacher also taught her Braille for six months and helped get her birth certificate. She appeared for the Class 5, 8, 10 and 12 exams through the open schooling system NIOS and joined a government college. Her studies were disrupted in the second year after Rambai met with an accident but she later completed her graduation.
Sometimes, an over-protective family can scuttle a disabled person’s chances to be independent without meaning to do so. Rajkumari never gained independent mobility since her mother and siblings took her wherever she wanted to go. “I never did any work in the house because my mother was always there to assist me,” she said. She was fond of singing and had opted for music instead of mathematics for NIOS. Rambai used to take her to a music teacher but the lessons stopped after the accident. In fact, it was Rambai’s fear of “who will look after you when I am gone?” that pressured Rajkumari into thinking about marriage. Her friend Shakuntala, a wheelchair user, was the one who played matchmaker.
Ramsurat is one of seven siblings of a family in UP. He studied in Gorakhpur but didn’t complete his graduation. He used to go to Delhi to visit one of his friends from his hometown who stayed at the hostel for the Blind run by the National Association for the Blind (Rashtriya Drishtiheen Sansthan). He travelled to Bilaspur for his friend’s wedding and the bride was Shakuntala. They had got hitched via the government’s mass marriage scheme for the economically weaker sections of society. At the wedding, Shakuntala, on purpose, asked Ramsurat to drop Rajkumari to her house. Her parents developed a liking for him.
After her wedding, Shakuntala brought Rajkumari to Delhi to register for a computer training course. Meanwhile, another mass marriage event was due in Bilaspur and Rajkumari, on Rambai’s insistence, filled out the application form and informed Ramsurat about it. She told him that her parents liked him, and would he be interested in filling in an application form as well? Ramsurat was willing, and they got married in Bilaspur. Once they returned to Delhi, however, Rajkumari never got a chance to do the computer course.
Ramsurat is unemployed. The couple get by through what they euphemistically call “donations”. They go out every day to ask for money in public places such as shops, markets and metro stations. Their families are not prosperous enough to offer them financial support. Rajkumari’s parents are no more, her sisters are all married and her brothers are employed – the elder brother is in government service and his wife is an anganwadi worker, while her younger brother works in the private sector. She gets along well with her in-laws whom she visits in UP once in a while.
Rajkumari had always been keen to pursue her education but her lack of independent mobility has been a stumbling block. “Who will take me there?” is a question we often hear from her. “My only desire now is that my husband gets a job so that we don’t have to go out and ask people for money anymore,” she says. Actually she herself had tried to apply for government jobs but was unsuccessful. She would like to do the computer training course but they cannot afford it. The desire to do better is very much alive in her!


Vicky Roy