Second Time Lucky

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Second time lucky

Five real-life couples share stories of how they found true love the second time round. Read the second story and get inspired.…

Five real-life couples share stories of how they found true love the second time round. Read the second story and get inspired.

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Christine was 18 (she’s now 65) when she married Dr Anirudha Patel, a dental surgeon in London. She had passed her pre-med exams two years ahead of time, and was looking for a job till she joined college. His wife had died during an asthma attack, leaving behind a two-year-old son, Viren. Anu was intelligent and well-read, mature in comparison to the boys I had been dating! Of course he was a bit of a flirt! He asked me out a couple of times, when he proposed, I said yes, says Christine. Despite all odds my mother was bitterly against the marriage.

I was a brilliant student and she didn’t want me to give up my studies for marriage. He was much older than me (I was 18, he was 32). My mother also could not digest the fact that I, being British, was marrying an Indian. There was strong objection from Anirudha’s family as well. Their marriages were always arranged. But his family came around, and we got married in 1963. I stayed in a joint family in Mumbai for nine months. I had to wear a saree and give up non-veg. I also went through a purification ceremony where I had to wash their guru’s feet and drink the water. After a bath, I had to wear the traditional kanthi. Only then was I allowed into the kitchen to have my meals with the rest of the family. Apart from that, they treated me well!

The marriage lasted 14 years, out of which they lived separately for five. ‘I’d been thinking about leaving him for five years before that, so it was a gentle process, she says. The divorce was filed in 1978 by mutual consent. Why did her marriage fail? All I can say is that the biggest injustice you can do to a child is to bring the other parent down. I would rather not go into that. I still share a good relationship with Anu. And all my children (she has five now, three from her marriage with Anirudha) are very close and get along well. I don’t want to rock the boat, talking about things that don’t matter now, she says.

Finding true love

While my first husband was 14 years older than me, my second husband was five years younger to me! she says. Her first meeting with Rohit was surreal. It was a mere saamne wali khidki mein situation, she laughs. I was staying in Anu’s bungalow in Mumbai after our separation, and it was opposite Rohit’s apartment! He was tall, dark and handsome. He had no dearth of proposals as he came from a rich, cultured family of diamond merchants. So when he eventually proposed, I just laughed! Their romance though, had begun earlier (but after the separation), when Christine was on her way to Nainital to see her children who were studying in a boarding school there.

I was with a group of friends, Rohit included. At the station, he tried to hold my hand, and in the train he kissed me for the first time. Eventually, he proposed marriage. I didn’t want to get involved – he was young and known to Anu’s family. But Rohit was persistent. I was modelling at the time and was also being offered roles in movies. He insisted I give up my career. He was possessive too. The best part – I didn’t mind!

They got married on December 10, 1978. Those 30 years – from the start of our relationship till he expired in 2003 – were the happiest days of my life. He was family-oriented, gentle, generous and giving. Our relationship only got better as we grew older. The fact that Rohit had no qualms about meeting Anirudha socially speaks volumes about his maturity and open-mindedness.

A bond forever

A financial crisis forced Rohit to leave his family and move to South Africa. But just as he reached the pinnacle of success, at age 52, he suffered a heart attack and expired. I was devastated… I had no interest in living. For three-and-a-half years after his death I was on heavy medication. I also lost my home and any means of livelihood. But thanks to the grace of God, I’m blessed with five caring children. They have supported me financially and emotionally.

My daughter Malaika and the Khan family (Malaika’s married actor Zayed Khan) showed me extraordinary kindness. All her children stand by her, through joy and sorrow. They mean the world to me, we share an amazing camaraderie. Our sense of humour and love for each other holds us together. I can talk about almost anything with them, she says.

Viren, her adopted son from Anirudha’s first marriage, runs a labour agency in Orlando, America. Naren and Amanda are her children from her marriage to Anirudha – Naren is the CEO of an outdoor advertising agency, Amanda is a PhD in bio-chemistry and is based in Nice, France – she’s one of the leading researchers in her field. Raoul, her son from her marriage to Rohit, has a degree in business from Boston College. He’s doing his internship with an interior designing firm. His twin sister Malaika did a course in diamond manufacture and design and is happily married.

Looking back, she has no regrets. Sometimes, even if the marriage does not work, you get the chance to build lifelong relationships, she says. I had wonderful mothers-in-law. Rohit’s mother was the embodiment of all that is good in Indian womanhood – softspoken and selfless. Anu’s mother also was a gentle, loving person. Anirudha’s dad too was a father figure to Christine. She now spends time reading, writing poetry and meeting up with friends. A business venture is on the cards.

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