Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Haritha John| The News Minute| January 26, 2015| 10.00 pm IST The phrase ‘Forever and beyond’ usually features in Christian wedding vows. However, for Thomas and Eli, who have been married for over eight decades, their time together has been symbolic of it. The couple from Kerala got married in 1932, making them perhaps the longest married couples in India and after 83 years of marriage , according to them, there are only two words to the secret for a successful married life - love and tolerance, something that they have proved through their life together. Parents to eight children, the couple ,who have a large family including 18 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, plan to celebrate their 83rd wedding anniversary on January 31 in their hometown, Thodupuzha in Idukki district. Born in a small rural village in Thodupuzha into a family where agriculture was their main source of income, Thomas according to the custom of those days married at the age of 18. Eli, who was also born in the same district, was only 15 years old at the time of the wedding. Their first meeting The first time Thomas says he laid eyes on his wife Eli was one of the happiest moments of his life. “I met her first during our engagement ceremony at church. It was unlike these days; the groom and bride were not allowed to meet prior to the engagement” Thomas chuckles. “Her house was far from here. My family and I went there by walk. The roads were not good”, Thomas recalls. The marriage itself was not a grand event, he said, reminiscing the intricate details of the day, “It was a small and simple function. I was wearing a white mundu (Dhoti) and she wore a chatta (traditional attire of Kerala Christian women). The first photograph that they have of themselves is after they became parents to four children. Not all hunky-dory for the couple Every marriage has its own ups and downs, and so was it for these two nonagenarians. The couple in their marathon relationship has suffered as much as they have celebrated. Not only did they lose their first child, but even their poor financial situation had once made life difficult. “It was a struggle; we had to struggle a lot. But we braved it together.We both were hard working and now we are happy” Thomas says. Thomas believes in a certain set of moral values which need to be followed for the success of family life. But upon being asked if he was ever bored at any point in the relationship, he was surprised. “How will you get bored? At any point in time I did not feel so. She was very nice. She is a good wife and a good mother” he proudly said. One of their sons, James also agrees that the couple are a perfect match along with being great parents. “They were hardworking, I have not seen my mother staying idle till 5 years ago and they loved and were concerned for each other, they taught us how to love and value others”. “They are still healthy. Father is healthier than mother, though he is blind. They still share a warmth between them and mother is always concerned about him” James said. Ninety-five-year-old Eli, on the other hand, hardly remembers much of her youth, but was well aware of the topic of discussion about their relationship at their home, continuously blushing and giggling as her husband spoke of their life. Though Thomas may not be physically be capable of making it a reality now, he for quite some time now has wanted to go for world tour with Eli. “I love to travel, I have gone to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and many other places in India. Now I am blind, but still I would love to visit places” the 98-year-old said, as he opened up about his passion. When asked about his favourite trip, he was quite elated, “It was 7 years ago, I went there by an airplane. Mumbai was a huge city; busy and crowded. But since the flight was very short I couldn't enjoy the flight” he said. Fights and misunderstandings He admitted to have fought with his wife, but he vehemently ascertains that not once has he broken her heart. “We used to fight, but I never hurt her. My brothers used to hit their wives, I used to scold them. You don’t have any right to do that” he added. His one piece of advice was this : “If you want to stay with a woman, then respect her. Don’t harm her physically or mentally, consider it as an advice from a great grandfather”. In a time, when divorce has become the easy way out of difficult marriages, a couple spending 83 years together seems impossible, not just health-wise. It might not seem significant, but the couple has literally spent a life time together. The greatest gift that a long and happy marriage has given them ? The fact that they were able to see their great grand children grow up and according to Thomas “this is the most valuable gift a human being can get in their life”. (Eli now has a weak memory, and does not speak much. But as I spoke to Thomas, she kept giggling in between, as she listened to her husband) TweetFollow @thenewsminute Read- A tea shop owner couple who have visited 16 countries, one dream destination left
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