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Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a real-life portrayal of the award-winning Bollywood movie ‘Khamoshi’, the love story of Badal and Sunita, a speech and hearing impaired couple from Odisha’s Bolangir promises to inspire many divyangs who otherwise give up hopes to live a beautiful life of togetherness.

Despite hailing from the same town, surprisingly they never had met earlier, as if destiny had other plans for them.

It was almost eight years ago they happened to meet at a sewing factory in Chennai. Both Badal and Sunita fell for each other at the first glance. Though both are unable to speak or hear since they were born, the thing that is needed to gauge one’s feeling for the other was spared by the almighty; the oceanic eyes of Badal were deep enough to make Sunita take the plunge.

Following courtship for about a year, they tied the nuptial knot in Chennai before returning to their hometown in Bolangir where Badal took up a job at a hardware store and Sunita preferred to be a homemaker.

They both excelled at their respective jobs. While Badal acts as a one-man army, a jack of all trades at the hardware store which brought him laurels from his employer, Sunita who manages home never falters from her duty as a homemaker.

Ganesh Agrawal, the proprietor of the hardware store where Badal works heaped praise on him. “Initially I was apprehensive about his ability of shouldering the responsibility given his disability. But as time went by, Badal understood all the nuances of his job. In fact, we have become so much dependent on him that we feel helpless when he takes leave.”

After the birth of their girl child four years ago, the couple become more resolute and brought her up with all the love and affection parents can give to their child. Contrary to usual apprehensions, the child does not have any disability and is growing up fit and fine.

Badal’s sister Sarima Behera in whose lap the little girl would recite rhymes, said, “When she was born, we feared that she might lose some of her ability to speak or hear like her parents. But by God’s grace, everything was normal and she has all her organs intact.”

“She would interact with her parents in sign language and communicate normally with others too. She is a multi-tasker,” said a beaming Sarima.

Like many others in Odisha, this divyang couple is also miles away from government allowances and schemes. Incidentally, Badal’s mother, Rukmini Behera is also partially blind and rues government apathy in excluding them in the appropriate schemes. “We are three physically challenged persons in our family and we should have received a house under the Awaas scheme.”

The story of these love birds which has become a legend in the town resembles the famous Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Bollywood movie Khamoshi – The Musical which featured Nana Patekar, Salman Khan and Manisha Koirala. However, the real-life couple, though unaware of the Bollywood movie, await their hour of fame through hard work and unflinching love for each other.

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