I think, until less than a year back, I wasn’t sure (because of many reasons) whether I would ever get married.
Karan’s autism is such that it is unlikely he will ever lead what is considered a full, normal life and will need to be cared for, for the rest of his life. My mother and I are not interested or will even consider sending him to a residential care centre; it’s completely out of the question. Karan stays with family. So when it becomes impossible for my mother to take care of him, it is up to me – as his one and only sibling – to be his parent. I admit, even though right now I’m not his regular caregiver, I feel like I have my first child already.
It’s not a responsibility I grudge. I’d considered a long time ago whether I would marry because that would mean finding a man who was comfortable and accepting of Karan. I had heard enough horror stories about this: a woman my family knew had a tough time finding suitors because every time the nugget of information came up that her sibling had special needs, the parents of the man swooshed in and shook their heads. No doubt the prospective suitors were conspirators in their refusal too, but I think some men can be amenable to the situation while older generations who are comfortably ensconced in their disgusting belief that “special needs” is a dirty phrase step in.
Here’s the thing: I understand fully well the implications of marrying into a family that has special needs. But then again, I could reject you for having cancer in your family, you for having heart problems floating in the fringes, you for arthritis and you because of diabetes. When it comes to rejecting a proposal, there are a million reasons to say no.
And yes, if a man cannot accept my brother, it’s a deal-breaker. I’d rather live alone caring for Karan than live with someone who spurns him, thank you very much.