Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

What It’s Really Like to Date with a Disability!

Ever wondered what it’s truly like to date with a disability? Abhishek Anicca spills the beans in his book, The Grammar of My Body. Buckle up for a journey into his world, where he breaks stereotypes and shares the real talk about love, relationships, and the unique adventures of being a queer-disabled man. Get ready to dive into a story that’s anything but ordinary!

The Grammar of My Body
The Grammar of My Body || Abhishek Anicca


That’s a match

In my fantasies

I draw you
with a pencil

I draw myself
with an eraser

I have a fear, buried deep down inside me. That someday, someone will find me attractive. Someone would want to touch me, make love to me. Running their hands over my disabled body. Not turned off by the proportions of my body or the way it lies on the bed, hunched, like it is walking through a dream.


What should I tell them before we make love? Should I tell them that I wear a diaper? They would know that eventually. How would I tell them that? Should I start with my history of diseases? I have to tell them about my scoliosis. And my infections. My urinary tract infections. Infections that recur with growing frequency these days. We would use a condom. We have to use a condom. ‘Here, take E. coli. And thanks for making love to me.’ I can’t do that to anyone. Not after knowing that they like my body.


The thought makes me scared. I don’t know if I am capable of having penetrative sex. I haven’t done that for almost a decade. Not since I became disabled. The first few years of being disabled were just about coping with disability. How to go out without your bladder getting the best of you. Or, worse still, when you lose control over your shit while walking outside, in a mall. You run towards the bathroom, but it’s already too late. The film is about to start. My friends are waiting. There is no way I can watch the film now. My nerves are aching. There is a spasm that makes it hard for me to use my right leg. ‘Sorry, I had some urgent work. Had to rush out.’ No more movie plans for me. Not before I learn how to empty my bowels before I step out of the house. And wear a diaper just in case my bowels betray me. Adult diaper, my best friend.


‘Adult diaper’, the words cause a flutter in the medical store. They pile up in my wastebasket every week till I pack them in a black dustbin bag and deliver them personally to the garbage bin. A secret document of my lived life, delivered without anyone noticing. I was scared about sharing this secret even with friends. The word might get out soon and ruin whatever chances I had of going out on a date. Not that wearing a diaper was the only deal-breaker.


What does it mean to love a disabled person? Does it mean empathy? Do you empathize with your lover? Maybe it’s about passion. And understanding. But can you understand someone without empathizing with them? ‘I love you. I am sorry but I don’t want to be a
burden on you.’ My friend says disabled people can be negative. I agree. We are so negative that sometimes the able-bodied mind never reaches us. The distance is too far on a number line.


Recently, a cab driver asked me if I was married. I said no. He said ‘Oh! You have money, you must be getting laid anyhow.’ I looked at his face in the mirror beside him. A young man in his twenties. Maybe for him, access to sex was just about money. Maybe he had been rejected by someone because of money. Maybe I didn’t tell him that my only date, through an online dating site, was with a disabled girl. We went on a date and she only wanted to talk about our disability. Plus, getting sex was not a problem for her. ‘Men are bastards, they
don’t care if you are disabled, they just want to do it.’ I wasn’t envious any more.


There are times when I am full of self-hatred for my body. I don’t have a dressing table at home. It makes me feel better about myself. I keep telling myself that I am losing weight. But T-shirts don’t lie. I was in the hospital for a month around January with a severe kidney infection and by March, all of my T-shirts were tight. I thought you were supposed to lose weight when you fell ill. All givens escape me


Being fat is the least of your problems when you are wearing a diaper and have a urinary tract infection all the time. You pee so much that you forget male genitalia has any other purpose. It’s when you get better that your desire reawakens. But then, everyone makes you look in the mirror. You are still fat and disabled. You become sad. And then depressed. Spells of decent physical health occupied by bad mental health. Till it becomes a self-repeating cycle.


In my defence, I would like to say I love myself. But that is probably going too far. The first time I proposed to a girl as a twenty-year-old, she told me she liked me but didn’t love me. I think I agree with her. Even I possibly only like myself.


The thought of not being loved doesn’t haunt me any more. It bothers my romantic heart sometimes. But there are so many people who can’t find love. So I go out, have fun with friends, read books, write poetry and enjoy long platonic conversations


It’s just a few minutes every day. Probably around midnight. When my body hurts. It laments everything that eludes it. Every touch. Every sensation. And only then it is reminded of its incompleteness. Incomplete. Yearning. Longing. It’s like a melancholic song that never ends.



Get your copy of The Grammar of My Body by Abhishek Anicca wherever books are sold.


Representation on the Page: Addition of a Diverse Voice

‘Diverse voice’ in literature is more than just a buzzword. It is a movement that aims to break down the barriers of representation and give voice to marginalized groups that have been historically underrepresented. Reading books with a diverse voice, those written by authors from different backgrounds and perspectives is essential in broadening our understanding of the world and ourselves. So, here’s an excerpt from Yogesh Maitreya’s Water in a Broken Pot which will be a great addition to your TBR.

Water in a Broken Pot
Water in a Broken Pot || Yogesh Maitreya


I did not make friends in the class. At the most, they were acquaintances, some of them sensible. A friendship develops in equal spaces, where your share in ‘giving’ and ‘taking’ is equal, or where you are fully accepted with your historical self, where you are accepted with equal respect and the pride with which people perceive themselves, isn’t it? Not that there were no students in TISS who did not share my history or past. There were many Dalit students here; they had come after so much struggle, crossing social barriers and acquiring admission purely on the basis of their merit and talent. But I suspected that they were becoming institutionalized. The way they wrote, articulated themselves or started perceiving the world indicated the increasing impact of TISS’s pedagogical language on their thought processes. It was not their fault. Institutions are created to institutionalize a person. Be it school, universities or prison.


In India, institutions dominated by Brahminical communities are meant to Brahminize a person. What kept me vigilant about this was my engagement with poetry and my growing conviction that it was through poetry that I could seek clarity about myself and the world around me. So when students were asked and encouraged to read ‘scientific’ research papers, I read them quickly just to copy their style of writing and know their methods, but for the clarity of the subject and to assert myself, I always relied on fiction and poetry in Dalit literature.


To write an assignment, or to explore the academic world, a laptop was becoming a growing necessity. I could not dare to ask my parents for money to buy a laptop. It was simply beyond their financial capacity. So the only option was an education loan. Many Dalit–Bahujan students who did not have the financial capacity to survive here chose this option. But without any guarantee for substantial employment after the completion of the course, it was a risk. Besides, no one asked whether students would want to work in order to repay the loan. To adjust to the demands here, students simply ran out of choices. For example, when I availed the education loan, I knew that it would take years of my life to repay it, which meant I had to work—even if I wanted to study further—just to repay the loan. But needs are created and capitalist provisions are there to fulfil those needs. This was a trap,
I understood later.

When I got the loan of Rs 84,000 for the laptop and my expenditure for two years, I went with Saira and bought the laptop and books. The remaining money was spent within a couple of months before the end of the first semester. There was no guiding figure to ask the students what they would like to do in the future, and there was simply no mechanism in place to encourage them in their intellectual endeavours. In India, institutes contradict their own philosophies. The problem of Dalit students is that they continue to walk with this dilemma only to realize that many of their dreams, which they once nurtured, are now completely buried in the process of institutionalization. They are in it. But they are not an essential part of it. They are in the institution to serve it in many unknown ways.


Be sure to add this diverse voice to your reading list this month!

‘We need to see inclusion as a basic human right’ – Lavanya Karthik

We have adored Adil ever since we got our hands on the book. We chatted with Lavanya Karthik, the author of When Adil Speaks, about her creative process, favourite books, and more!


How did Adil come into being?

LK: Adil was a little glimmer of an idea in my head for a long while. I wanted to explore the idea of communication in a picture book. I wanted to address the idea of diversity, as well as look at the little things that make us all the same – fear of not being accepted, shyness, wanting to be heard and seen.  And I was fascinated by sign language. I realised I could do all of this in one book and, slowly and steadily, these ideas developed into ‘Adil’.


What was your creative process behind a children’s book on inclusivity?

Front cover of When adil speaks
When Adil Speaks||Lavanya Karthik

LK: While the central character is disabled, I did not want that to be the focus of the book. Rather, it is his personality that stands out – he is fun, popular, a great athlete. I wanted this book to be about communication, and finding ways to connect. And what better way to connect than through art!

This book then evolved quite organically, as I imagined how the story of Adil and his friend would develop, and how they would figure out a way to ‘speak’ without words.  Comics seemed the obvious choice; whenever I visit schools or conduct workshops, I find that kids – from the quietest ones to the noisiest, from municipal schools and elite private institutions – love drawing comics. They dive right in, drawing themselves as superheroes, confronting demons, making great speeches. filling up pages and pages with art and ideas.  Then they would gather around, inspecting each other’s comics. What better way to make friends!


If you had to recommend a reading list on inclusivity for children (or adults!), which books would you add to it?

LK: This would really be a very, very long list! To narrow it down to a very short one,

Picture Books

  • I Didn’t Understand by Mini Shrinivasan
  • Guthli Has Wings by Kanak Shashi
  • My Travelin’ Eye by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw


Middle Grade

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Caleb and Kit by Beth Vrabel
  • Simply Nanju by Zainab Suleiman



  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
  • There Will be Lies by Nick Lake
  • Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner


Inclusivity and the idea of embracing difference is still a severely stunted conversation in the country. Do you think some level of sensitivity training should be mandatory, particularly for people working in educational institutions?

LK: I think we need to see inclusion as a basic human right and not as an act of benevolence. We need schools and playgrounds, systems and processes that can be accessed by everyone, and that acknowledge diversity, not enforce sameness. Sensitivity training is definitely important as a first step to enabling this.


error: Content is protected !!