It was in the last week of August that 90-year-old Saidu was brought to an old age home in Kodungallur, Thrissur. Abdul Kareem, the caretaker, was asking him some questions when a frail old woman came out of one of the rooms. She was wheezing, but she froze when she saw Saidu. He saw her and looked equally shocked. Seeing their expressions, Kareem asked if they knew each other. Breaking out of the spell, she said, “Do I know him? He is my husband!” And Saidu said, “I have been looking for her everywhere!”
88-year-old Subadra and Saidu were meeting each other after 36 years at that old age home – aptly called ‘Velicham’ (meaning 'Light'). The police had brought her there after she was found lying sick in a hospital with no one to take care of her. Saidu was found sleeping on the steps of a shop in Kodungallur.
Kareem tells their story. “She was first married off as a teenager and had two kids – a boy and a girl. But her husband soon passed away and she began living with her father. Saidu was a friend of her father's who visited them often. At some point, Subadra told her father that she wants to marry him. With their father’s blessings, they had a registered marriage, when she was 23 years old.”
Mani, another resident of the house, says, “Theirs was an inter-caste marriage. They had lived together for 29 years before they lost track of each other! We were so happy when they found each other again in this old age home.”
They'd lost touch when at the age of 54, after both of Subadra’s kids got married, Saidu went away in search of a job. He reached some place in north India and somehow went missing there. He couldn’t come back home or even contact anyone. “Both of them didn’t have phones. And he had no relatives either,” Kareem says.
With time, both of Subadra’s children passed away. She ran a small business selling prawns. Some people let her stay with them but when she became unwell, Subadra was not so welcome. She slept in temple grounds till she became too ill and had to be hospitalised. It is from the hospital that the police brought her to Velicham.
When she was in the hospital, Saidu had reached Kodungallur and had gone in search of Subadra everywhere. “That’s when the police found him sleeping on the steps of a shop and brought him here,” Kareem says.
As both Saidu and Subdra say they are happy again, 85-year-old Beevathu, another resident of the old age home, says, “Marichalum janichalum randalum oru sthalathu koodi poi.” It can’t be translated accurately, but it means: “Whatever happened, they ended up at the same place.”