A 71 year-old story of pure love and compromise
By Bibi Khatoon
Unlike your usual fairytale love story where a Princess would be swept off of her feet to a castle where she lives happily ever after, I tell you of a love story which has its unique magical touch.
Compromise, courage and simplicity still remain the way of life for a couple who will be celebrating 71 years of marriage this year.
This story dates back to May 04, 1946. It was the second time that Liloutie and Bhola would meet and interestingly enough it was about to be a life changing day because they were about to be married.
“One time he see me you know. Lang ago, you nah come visit steady, steady. Nah like nowadays, how much years yuh ah visit, if yuh marrid, yuh marrid, if not gone bad,” recounted Liloutie the common culture of arranged marriage which was mostly practiced by Indian families in those days.
Unpredictably, this match was made at another wedding house, not long before the two became one.
With a sparkle in eye as if it was the first time he was seeing his wife Dhola said “well me fatha mek the match. Me father know her mother and so on, them ah good people and he decided to mek the match to marrid her.”
He was also quick to brag that “many people were asking” for him, a comment which caused his wife during this interview to burst out in laughter who added that the aim was to get him a village bride.
Liloutie was born and raised in Kitty, Georgetown while Bhola was born at Metem-meer-zorg on the West Coast of Demerara who would then be raised between that village and Plaisance on the East Coast of Demerara with an elderly relative.
“I wasn’t ready but you know they does tell yuh that yuh got to marry,” Bhola said since he was 22 years old at the time as he chuckled.For him seeing the choice back then and picking Liloutie was not a disappointment because he was captivated by her beauty.
In those days marriage was valued since divorce was never an option and could have been considered a big deal compared to what currently exist in today’s society.
For this young woman who was 18 years old related the happiest moment in her life was her wedding night; it was the ideal traditional wedding where the families are required to meet halfway from each other’s homes.
Her face lit up with excitement as her reminiscences of the wedding was “Big” and her husband added his most loving part which was the “fireworks” as weddings were usually hosted at nights.
The couple recounted that “as they come, they does call this thing Milap (Hast-Milap is literally the meeting of hands of the relatives from both families), they does meet up together halfway…from then on, the wedding gon start. First thing they does give you is the Kanyadaan (the father giving away the daughter to the boy).”
Then on the day after the wedding, Liloutie recalled that “you does go home where the bai living because is night wedding right. Deh you does eat Kitri (Kitchari) marnin time; if ah Saturday we marrid, Sunday marning we eat kitree (Kitchari), yuh gee present and suh and when yuh ready, then yuh does go home at the bai side. There is no ceremony then until the next day when you go seaside for Kangan.”
Years later, Mr. Maraj still smiles proudly when he speak about falling in love and making Liloutie his wife and the mother of his children.
The young couple started their life together in a Logie as Liloutie assumed the role of a housewife while her new husband worked on a nearby sugar estate.
Life seemed new to the now Mrs. Maraj while turning their Logie into a homeeven though they were some things she didn’t find pleasing and would later learned to cope with those challenges.
“Logie was ten rooms, and that room…got rooms depending on the family,you got to cook right deh, ga yuh bed deh, yuh ga yuh lil shelf, yuh gay uh pat, and yuh cup and spoon. And fo the ten room, it gat a long line, me gat me fireside and everyone else gat theirs” she related.
However, being the simple person she was even with things seeming hard she said they “live nice, all the people them was nice.” As the years go by Liloutiewould now be known by many as ‘Aunty Baby’ afterspending five years in the Logie with her husband.
During those five years of their marriage, the couple would have three children.Not long after her husband was able to secure a job at the Palms and the family would move to Delph Street, Campbellville where they had another seven children bringing the total to ten, with an even number of boys and girls.
The eldest is today, 69 years old while the youngest is just in his late forties.
In May 2017, the couple will be celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary, a mile stone they are both pleased about.
The two explained that the journey has not been an easy road but with support and love, their love has grown into something beautiful and presented them with a lifetime of happiness.
Bhola’s hard working attitude to support his family is what his wife admires most as she said “well he work hard to give we we daily bread. He never leh we hungry or so. He lots of kindawuk to give us our daily bread and all we children and suh, them grow up decent and properly.”
Being a man of few words, when asked what he has grown to love about his wife, Mr. Maraj said “Well I like her mek I marry her”, causing wife to erupt in laughter. Or maybe it might be because he loves to watch her dance…
Aunty Baby said she loved to dance “decent dance, I can’t dance them lawless dance…even though ah can’t dance now” and while her husband laughingly said “I never dance”, she noted that “he like see me dance.”
Looking back on their years of marriage, the couple outlined that it has been good years. One of their biggest accomplishments is living life on their own terms. “We try and we live it fo suit we self then. We ain’t had no problem, we eat we lil food wuh we get, and we go ahead and meet till to this age and till to so many years of marriage.”
The recipe for long life and a happy marriage was given by now 93 year old Bhola Maraj who said “Well, you have to live it up. If the lady rowing, you have to stay quiet”, a comment which would resonate with most couples who understands that answering in an argument is like ‘adding fuel to the flame’
He highlighted that in today’s society, males would like to consume alcohol and then allow the substance to take over their behaviour, however even though he consumed a little alcohol from time to time, something which he accepted he still does, he would not behave “bad” at home.
It is both their view that more marriages can last as long as theirs with the right amount of love, compromise and commitment.
While some of their children reside in other parts of the country and overseas, the elderly couple who is now at home relaxing is being cared for, by one of their daughters.
At 89 and 93 years old, the couple enjoys 23 grand children and 6 great grandchildren who from time to time would visit and keep them busy.