The town was buzzing with love ,glamour ,every lane seemed to be flirtatious & one could playfully watch young swarms full of Romance ,& why not ,after all it was Valentine’s Day ,a day to express & solicit Love for one another !
Lanes leading to Lover’s Paradise at Vizag was full of delicate fragrance; it shimmered with the beauty of couples, smiled with the chuckles of their enchantment, & romanced with the passionate hugs! With the lovers flocking for a gala event, RJ Sumeet had begun chatting round charming all. When asked where their heart was beating they all pointed towards their partners! What meant love to them made the frantic crowd roar their partner’s name with all whistles! Between this exquisite fanatical world stood Rhea, to whom these answers were almost whimsical. This crowd seemed comic & insane to her, although she passed from those lanes but her answers were quite different.
“My heart beats for my heart”, she yelled out with tears of pain & ran away from the spot. Keeping her agony buried deep inside she managed to smile, but in next moment she was enfolded by many,w4ho wanted to understand what she meant, who thought to sympathize her for her break up & give her a hope of love, but Rhea was lost in some other world..Unaware of the compassionate eyes, she chose to walk away undeterred.
Suddenly, she heard a loud thud..Hey 2 hearts…She turned back to see a young guy on wheel chair waving, his eyes full of shine & face gleaming with smile .Something clung onto Reyansh & he kept on following her till she was quite away from those passionate people .Sluggishly Reyansh pointed out that he too was one of the onlookers at Lover’s Paradise & came to her as something knocked his heart .Rhea’s words had ignited some thoughts hence he followed her .Rhea was quite pleased to see the radiance on his face ,despite his disability, the optimistic aura around him had made her immediately attracted towards him! No, that was not the inception of “Love at first sight” but the beginning of friendship, closeness of two people, quite different from this world but destiny made them believe in common desires.
Rhea was quite introvert when it came to expressing herself; hence it took Reyansh longer than usual to decode her mystery. That evening, CCD in the next lane saw two remarkable people exchanging their naive thoughts.
“Hey Rhea ,I was 2 years when I was detected with Muscular Dystrophy ,with regular deterioration of muscles I’ve been with my Wheel chair from past 16 years .Bet on ,none can be a better valentine & he chuckled..Rhea grinned, completely enveloped in “sympathy” ,the word she hated sometimes back .Well ,so you see, she takes me for a morning walk ,she has made me roam around quite some lovely places ,I have ample space to let my friends sit besides on my chair & feel the pleasure of it! I eat & drink on it, what more do I need? I love writing & that’s my table as well! True Reyansh, it is actually your soul mate, just as my hearts are soul mates rather made for one another”; she buzzed out her anguish with the same charm which Reyansh had! Yes Rhea was born with 2 heart’s pumping throughout day & night, a syndrome unheard of naturally in the scientific world .Science had progressed leaps & bounds but for them it stood still. Digging more into the researches provoked them all the more to acknowledge that they had to live with it. Having a double heart beat of closer to 120bpm, much higher than normal blood flow made her step back in many opportunities in life .Her heart used to thump so loudly that she would often end up crying out of sheer pain .She had short breath & numerous epileptic fits which hindered her peaceful nights, she often woke up stressed out in the dark nights & even became unconscious multiple times!
She had almost lost all her dreams, be it a Rock Dancer or Singer; yes she was a normal persona but yet unique in many reasons which none perceived! She was really unique, she was one in billions.
Rhea returned home late that day, quite gloomy & deeply in some fight with her thoughts, but this time her heart was breaking for Reyansh, she was in woe & in ardent desire to help him out. Thinking all this she rang the doorbell & walked straight to her room without greeting her mom.
Ms.Rita had been a caring mother & she had often seen Rhea losing hopes to catch her dreams ,& this time looking at her misery ,she questioned again ,Rhea ,its time you make a decision out of your life .Let’s just take an appointment & permit doctors to operate upon & unplug an extra heart out of you, stop torturing yourself Rhea!
Ma, this is the last time, I’m reverting back to you with a big “No” ,Let me live on my conditions ,let me live just as I am..
Are you sure, Rhea? Asks my mother.
‘Of course I’m. Survival of the fittest, mother. I’m not going against Darwin. Also I don’t want unnecessary scars on my body.’
It’s a known fact that we are all born to die. And frankly, I don’t understand why it has to be made into such a big deal. If it were not for my mother I would have said that to the bunch of people outside my house, some of them with young kids, shouting slogans, waving placards, literally wanting me to cut one of my beating hearts out. “Save A Life. Donate!” they shout.
For someone who is one in billions, 7.125 billion to be exact, I expect to be treated better. Scientists are still befuddled regarding my condition that gave me two hearts in my mother’s womb. But years of research and sticking needles into me have led them nowhere, and they have labelled me as a freak mutation. It’s so rare – literally one in all humankind – that they didn’t even name the anomaly (as they call it, I will call it awesomeness). I wanted to name the condition myself, something on the lines of Rhea’s Heartsawesome but the doctors aren’t thrilled with the suggestion. Instead they want to cut one of them out and save a life. Huh?
An IQ of 180, increased concentration, exceptional athleticism and a phenomenal metabolism rate – are just the few boring benefits of an increased blood circulation. Why would I ever give that up?
Ma ,do you know at least I can walk ,I can run ,although I have reasons why it is hindered ,I met someone today ,who doesn’t have the richness to walk..I felt afflicted for the first time not because of my condition but to see his .I felt powerless today understanding the trust he still had in life, I felt laidback to still capture his affirmative thought towards people & his dreams . It’s today that I have made certain promises & this is the time for me to keep them up!
Deep silence…Her mom had nothing to argue but just to join hands & pray to the almighty to bestow world’s goodness in her daughters lap.
Deeply pondering over the day’s conversations, looking at the stars twinkling in the dark sky, she hoped to have a similar silver lining in her life .She stretched out her blanket & dozed off to a peaceful sound sleep, a sleep with almost no impediments that night.
A positive start had already inked in her. Reyansh & Rhea started meeting, with just a good feel for one another. They wanted to welcome the sun in open that day & Rhea sat along Reyansh’s chair & they made their way to the shore, along the coastline of Vizag. It was such a gorgeous day, with their heads held high; they could see the struggle of sun peeping out of the cloudy sky.”Ha ha see these notorious clouds, not allowing the sun to come out & proliferate its warmth on us”...Reyansh spoke up & then it was a joint voice.“But look at the persistent efforts, sun wants to peep out, it vanishes, struggles & comes out for a while & then again vanishes”…Their words spoke up of their togetherness & they hugged each other tightly for the very first time only to see that the peek –a –boo had ended .Mother earth was beaming with joy, birds had emerged out of the adjoining trees, Green trees shone all along. Yes Sun had finally emerged &made its presence over the world. “Look at the ecstasy among all, be it humans, greens, animals or birds, from a silent world it has become a “chirpier world”, narrated Rhea.
“Rhea you know my Dad was National Swimming champion ;when I was small ,he wanted me to be an International Swimmer ,but look at the destiny .My dream has not yet shattered ,I’ll not allow his dreams to go in vain .He sowed the seed when I was very young ,we have not spoken a word on this from the day I’m on wheel chair ,his daily efforts to see me standing have crippled ,but his dreams are still mine“. Rhea couldn’t question but her mind baffled with Reyansh’s thoughts, can he be an unsung hero? Can he ever stand up to fulfil his dad’s dreams? So many questions pondered to which she wanted an answer, but she had to wait for the destiny to answer.
During those days ,there was frequent news of Delhi hosting Asian Games ,with regular chats between Rhea & Reyansh about it .With the excitement ,they planned a trip to Delhi & watch Jack Bean ,5 times consequent winner in relay race .That was a great day ,humungous crowd ,crazy fans assembled at the Games Stadium to hoot their ideals & Rhea could silently see Reyansh’s excitement for the event which was followed by the Swimming championship that afternoon. Sitting somewhat in a different line from the watch ground, they both saw some amazing swimmers, their steady strokes, it was all fascinating for them .Suddenly, Rhea discovered tears in Reyansh’s eyes…Astonished, she wished to flee away from that place but Reyansh cried & clapped openly, he couldn’t stop re-instilling his father’s dream to watch him go miles in this sport. Somehow, he managed to regain his charming senses &they both enjoyed the day, eating famous Chaat & Parantha’s of Delhi, but there was something consistently knocking Rhea’s heart…
That was a night with thoughts running across Rhea’s mind, she was restless, frequently switching sides on the bed. Suddenly she sat, switched on night lamp & questioned to her soul…What’s my reason to live? It was always to share delighted moments & create a sense of bliss in one’s life! Reyansh is in front of me, shattered yet with strong will, let his dreams be mine.Let me not care of what others think, let me ignore their laughs & handshake with the fact with what I have..A lovely soul besides me! Without a second thought, she had embarked her journey now.
They both had to return in next two days & Rhea took an opportunity to counsel a famous AIIMS doctor, well that was not a sign of readiness as per Rhea’s mom but it was an altogether different counselling, a promising one which had further inspired her to give her last night thought a fly with the help of medications & certain exercises.
They returned back, Rhea with her strong will power contacted the Swimming academy .Due to her short breaths, she couldn’t breathe in water & even became unconscious, but she was determined, highly stimulated for the love of her life! It took her nearly a week to face water, she panicked, she couldn’t enter the pool. Freaking, she yelled out, begged her soul for the strength, asked her hearts to provide her vigour & made up her mind to fulfil her promise! Yes, that day, the month of August, got her for the first time in the pool & there was no turning back for her…Just a month & she could take short swim sessions. But that was not her dream; she had something else in her mind. Confident enough of herself, 20th September was encircled in her calendar, for she had to have the strength &will power of Goddess Durga to accomplish her mission.
The next day saw waves gushing on full swing hitting hard on the rocks. Rains splashed the city early morning, winds blew from east, it felt as if some avalanche was on its way.
Rhea pulled her bag & along with Reyansh, they made their way to the pool of swimming academy .Rhea was consistently instilling something in Reyansh’s mind ,he looked in terror for the first time ,his core alarmed of something wrong ,he was completely bemused, should he have faith in Rhea’s golden words or to believe self? He felt like leaving Rhea’s hand & to run away, he was just too panicked from his usual self. Sensing this dilemma, Rhea couldn’t stop herself from hugging him & whispering …”Have faith in me? Can you trust my words? Can I assure you of our special love? If yes hold on to me, I’m there with you in your every breath, cling onto me & feel the hope. We are moving a step ahead to see “OUR” dream come true”. Yes, Reyansh could not let Rhea fail, he had to surrender…
With muscles crippled just below his knees, Rhea made him drag with her support & push in the water .With his weight on Rhea’s body, he made his efforts & kept himself afloat using only his upper body .He panicked but struggled to move his arms wildly & in perfect harmony, as he worked his way cutting the turbulent water. He tried to kick; failed, again jerked his body but his arms on Rhea became the superman. Above the water, he looked just like a normal swimmer, pushing himself off the diving board with his body weight & lifting out of the water using his arms..Yes that was the day when city was inundated with the joy of conquering disability; Rhea broke down into tears of Joy & couldn’t resist saluting him! They both had beaten the odds, yes, Rhea had won Reyansh’s dream, with his every stroke, it was Rhea who was swimming, it was she who was seeing his dream breaking through the harsh water & winning…She exclaimed with Joy, yelled & shouted! She had conquered her battle, she had made Reyansh swim for the first time, and that was a win towards her Heartsawesome syndrome.
For Reyansh that was just the beginning!
Sometimes it’s another person who lives your dream…That’s the feeling of Love, a true love of the souls.
Written for TOI Write India campaign “This Story is personally drafted out of a small passage by Durjoy Dutta(highlighted in blue)”