They've known each other for decades, over trials and tribulations, but it's only now that Kochaniyan and Lakshmi Ammal have decided to get married.
In 12 days, the old age home in Kerala where they live, will turn into a venue for their wedding. Kochaniyan Menon, the 67-year-old groom, and PV Lakshmi Ammal, the 66-year-old bride, took the decision a month ago and can barely wait for the big day. This is a first for the government-run old age home in Ramavarmapuram in Thrissur district of Kerala, and the residents are busy making arrangements for the special wedding.
The love story
Even before she came to the old age home, Lakshmi Ammal knew Kochaniyan for about 30 years. He was her late husband Krisha Iyerâ€™s assistant in the catering business in Thrissur.
â€śMy husband passed away 21 years ago. But he asked Kochaniyan to take care of me after he passed. He was with me then. After he passed away, I lived alone in my house for some years. Kochaniyan used to come home if I required some help. Later, I sold my house and shifted to a relative's house, where I lived for many years. Kochaniyan used to check on me often,â€ť Lakshmi Ammal narrates her story to TNM.
A few years ago, Kochaniyan went somewhere and did not return. â€śTwo years ago, I came here, to this old age home,â€ť she says. And two months ago, she met Kochaniyan, once again, at the same old age home.
Lakshmi Ammal is not sure if they were in love earlier. But she says they liked each other a lot even then. â€śI was surprised to see him. I was feeling lonely all these years. When I met him here, I was overjoyed. He never left me alone. He loves me,â€ť she says.
â€śThatâ€™s why we decided to lead the rest of our lives as husband and wife,â€ť she adds.
Kochaniyan was living with his children until a few years ago. He later went to an old age home in Wayanad, from where he was transferred to the Thrissur home two months ago.
The wedding approval
Lakshmi Ammal and Kochaniyanâ€™s wedding has been planned under the leadership of John Daniel, standing committee member of Thrissur Corporation Welfare.
â€śA month ago, the old age home superintendent Jayakumar told me their story. They wanted to get married. So, we decided to find a way to get them married at the old age home itself,â€ť John tells TNM.
There are no government orders or laws that restrict old people from getting married. However, since Lakshmi Ammal and Kochaniyan are residents of the government old age home and are planning to stay at the old age home after their wedding, they had to seek approval from certain government authorities.
It was then that Jayakumar recalled something. In a meeting held at the Secretariat eight months ago, there was a decision to conduct the marriage of any old age home residents if they are interested.
â€śSomehow, we found the minutes of the meeting and decided to get them married. They were very happy,â€ť John added.
He said that all important officers, department ministers and the Parliament members of the constituency will be invited for the wedding.
â€śWe will set up a mandapam, sadhya (feast) and a maniyara (bedroom for the couple) for the couple. The venue will be Ramavarmapuram old age home,â€ť he announced.
The thali will be sponsored by some residents of the old age home.
He said this might be the first wedding conducted at an old age home, of its inmates.
Jayakumar, the superintendent, said that the couple will be staying at the home even after the wedding and they will be allotted a room.
Lakshmi Ammal is excited about her marriage. â€śIt is all because of god's blessing. We are not sure how long we can stay together as we are old. But we will be happy and I feel somebody is there next to me always,â€ť she says.