When was the last time that someone gave you a compliment that you remember? Mine was from a guy I matched with on Tinder. Seven years, three heartbreaks, and one relationship later, nothing comes close to it.
His display picture on Tinder stood out because it was taken in a rural setting—which spoke of his longing to stay connected to his roots—but his bio reeked of the Metro vibes, saying that he was someone who had the zeal to conquer the world. It was a beautiful paradox, or maybe, it was me romanticizing yet another guy who was going to disappoint me.
We met on a rainy day. He—tall, extremely handsome, keeping it together. Me—short, gorgeous (of course), unable to keep it together. It’s not like I was nervous or something. It was a rainy day—which meant that the floors were more slippery than usual which could make my crutches slip and make me fall—only after falling head over heels for my date.
He knew about my disability, but it wasn’t the first thing that he got to know about me. I kept asking myself if that was the reason why he felt attracted to me. That evening was about good coffee and great conversations. I remember we spoke about our work, the weather, Pune traffic—the usual small talk—before moving on to talk about how we’re all stuck in a cycle that we don’t want to break, and how easy it would be once we find the right person to be with and yet how difficult it is to find the same. What?! Was that a hint for me to take?
Anyway, it was time to leave and time for reality to spill some water over my fantasies. I had managed to fracture my other functional leg a month back. It had been a couple of days since my cast was removed. And, it was raining. This meant that I needed two times more the support that I would usually need in a public setting. Was I not aware that all of this would make me appear more disabled in this ableist world? I was. Did I believe that it wouldn't matter? I did.
You can’t blame me for thinking that it wouldn’t matter. Soon after we had matched, we were glued to our phones for three whole days without a break. It was at that point that he said those words that still make me smile, “You're something else, you know?”
Yes, maybe, I was really something else... And maybe, I'll always be something else—in this ableist world. No wonder our conversations faded out a few days after we met. I knew it from the time he saw me off in a rickshaw that this wasn’t going to last long—no pun intended. After a few hi-hellos from my end and a few formal responses from his end, it was time to stop hoping that it would be him who would be ‘Mr Something Else’ for a change. And maybe, I can’t blame him either. However, what I can do is trip him over my crutches, the next time I spot him in public. I mean, a girl can dream, right?
Sweta Mantrii is an MBA turned writer, disability rights activist and stand-up comic. She has been advocating for the rights of people with disabilities through blogs and features, documentaries, awareness campaigns, interactive art mediums, and stand-up comedy for over a decade.