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Athira and Ashly lost their father when they were very young. And the only memory of their childhood the sisters can still recall is of their mother working to make ends meet as a sole parent.
But things changed when, in 2016, their mother, Anitha Chembuvilayil shared a long-buried secret in her heart, with her daughters.
“I still remember that day. There was a mix of emotions in my mother’s voice. I had never seen her like that with her face completely lit up. She was very anxious while telling me the story but at that very moment I knew what I had to do,” Athira tells me.
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Anitha had finally summoned the courage to tell her daughters of the time when, as a young woman, she had fallen in love with a man named Vikraman. But, fate had decided against their marriage and Anitha’s father tied her destiny with another man’s.
What followed the confession was an act of a daughter’s unconditional love for her mother.
Aathira and Ashly not only got in touch with Vikraman but also encouraged their mother to begin her life again. On 21 July 2016, in a small ceremony with friends, a 52-year-old Anitha finally married her long lost love, Vikraman.
This is their story.
When Anitha met Vikraman
It all started in the year 1984 in Oachira, Kollam, Kerala when Anitha was a student of class 10 while Vikraman was a teacher at her tuition centre. Vikraman, who was highly involved in political events, would meet Anitha often at party events and they eventually fell in love.
But when Anitha presented the relationship before her family, her father, who was an Assistant Engineer in the Army regarded it to be beneath his dignity to marry off his daughter to Vikraman.
Anitha’s father forced her to end the relationship and cut all ties with him. Later, Anitha was married off to another man from the same village. On hearing the news of her marriage, a heart-broken Vikraman moved to Chavara, Kottayam and continued his life there as a teacher.
A few years into their marriage, Anitha and her husband had their daughters. But within a few years, Anitha’s husband died by suicide, under the influence of alcohol.
“I was just 8 years old when my father killed himself. But from then on our mother ensured that my sister and I came out of that traumatic childhood. She struggled so much to educate us and to send us to school and college. She literally gave herself up so that we could fulfil our own dreams,” explains Athira.
Although Anitha never had the opportunity to complete her formal education, by selling land and taking up odd jobs, she managed to educate both her daughters who completed their undergraduate degrees from the MG University, Kottayam.
Destiny intervened when in 2016, Vikraman returned to his hometown in Oachira after his retirement. The two eventually met and Anitha opened up about Vikraman to her daughter Athira and narrated the entire story.
It was then that Athira and her elder sister Ashly decided to reunite the two and get them married.
“I met him a couple of times after that and asked him if he was willing to reunite with my mother. But he was adamant that my sister and I should settle with our own lives before thinking about a future with our mother. So soon after my marriage, we took the idea forward,” she adds.
Although Athira and Ashly had to face a lot of resentment from some of their closest relatives, they placed their mother’s happiness above all else and proceeded with the wedding ceremonies.
“The best part was, my grandfather who was against the marriage about 32 years ago was the one that handed over the thaali,” Athira shares. In Hindu tradition, the father of the bride passes a thaali (a tray laden with things of sacred value) to the groom.
Sadly, it seems as if fate was not done with Anitha and Vikraman’s story. After spending four blissful years with his long lost love, Vikraman sadly bid farewell to the world last month at the age of 72 due to a severe stroke.
“We all miss him a lot but I’m glad that he was able to leave with a fulfilled love story. And moreover, he was able to fill my mother’s life with happiness and bring a smile to her face,” concludes Athira.
Crossing all boundaries of age and time, these daughter’s fulfilled their mother’s wish, giving us a story that showed us love in all its beautiful forms.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)