For the last two years, a typical day in Vinu Pandiapally’s life starts at 6.30 am, when he visits Linisha’s house. The daily wage labourer who lives in Puthenvelikkara near Paravur of Ernakulam district, spends an hour with Linisha, taking care of her, speaking to her with a smile on his face. But whether Linisha can hear him, he does not know: His lover of eleven years has been in a coma since 2016.
A story of selfless love
Linisha and Vinu have been a relationship for the past 11 years, and two years ago, they got engaged. “We fell in love when she was 16 and I was 25. We loved each other a lot and decided to live together. But our families were not happy with our relationship... They said I was not a perfect match for her – as she was very petite compared to me,” Vinu recalls.
“But we were very strong in our decision," Vinu says. In 2015, he decided to visit Linisha’s parents along with his friends, and asked for their permission to marry her – however, they did not agree.
“We had to fight for months. She was not ready to marry anyone else, even if her parents were not happy with me," Vinu says.
Finally, in May 2016, nine years into their relationship, Vinu and Linisha managed to convince her parents. They got engaged, and they were supposed to get married on August 28 the same year. "We were so happy that our long time dream to live together was about to be fulfilled. Her happy face is still in my mind… Those days, she spoke to me continuously,” Vinu says.
But their happiness was short lived. On May 30, 2016, Linisha and her family met with a terrible road accident.
Life after the accident
“Since the marriage was fixed, her family decided to go on a pilgrimage to Velankanni church. Their vehicle met with an accident near Dindigul. Since then, she has been in a coma,” Vinu says with tears in his eyes.
But he manages to smile. He says confidently, "There is improvement in her, now when I speak she tries to move her eyes a little."
Every day since, Vinu sits near the bed where Linisha is lying down; he makes sure that he has a smile on his face whenever he speaks to her. He talks to her continuously as usual, about a lot of things they used to speak about earlier. He goes to work at 7.30am, and by 6pm, he is back by her side. He spends a couple of hours with her again – and whenever he is there, he helps maintain Linisha’s personal hygiene, along with her mother.
In the accident, Linisha’s mother lost a leg; her father has been unwell since. His own parents are old and unable to work, and he is their only son. So Vinu, a daily wage labourer, has been taking care of both families as well as Linu’s medical expenses, but he does it happily.
“Her family is also mine. So it is my responsibility, I don't consider it as a burden, I choose to do it. The only problem is financial constraints, it is a struggle to make both ends meet and above that medical expenses," Vinu says.
"If I get depressed, many lives depending on me will be in trouble. May be my destiny is to take care of them all. I have no complaints," Vinu hopefully says.
While many people have advised him to get married to someone else and forget about the past, Vinu has chosen to ignore them.
"I don't listen to what people say. I can't replace Linisha. Some may not understand this," he asserts.
A helping hand
In March 2018, a group of friends were hanging out in Puthenvelikkara town, and they noticed a young man getting a bunch of adult diapers from a medical store. They asked him who they were for, but he did not reply. Later, some of them met him again and realised he was buying diapers regularly.
“He is a very happy person, always smiling. We did not know him personally then, but he used to smile at us when we passed by. We knew he was a daily wage worker, and wanted to help him in case he had unwell relatives,” says Sunil Thomas, a social worker and Youth Congress's local area President.
“When he told us his story, we couldn’t believe it. We went to Linisha’s house, and we were shocked. She is a lean girl with feeding tubes attached to her nose and throat,” Sunil says.
Sunil adds that he and his friends were touched by how Vinu was taking care of her.
"He sits near her, kisses her forehead, and speaks to her normally without expecting a reply. They were not even married and we were surprised to see his love," he says.
That was when Sunil and his group of friends decided to conduct a campaign to help Vinu. "The campaign was conducted on April 28, we were able to give Rs 1 lakh to Vinu. Compared to the expenses he incurs, that was a small amount, but we tried our best to help them. We will keep doing it," he adds.
Vinu is grateful for all the support he has been receiving and he says that it gives him more confidence to stick to his decisions. "It is happy that somebody is supporting us in difficult times. This support gives me courage," he says. "It gives me confidence that I can bring her back."