50 years in the Assembly: Mariyamma speaks of husband Oommen Chandy's first love

50 years in the Assembly: Mariyamma speaks of husband Oommen Chandy's first love

(This is an account of Oommen Chandy by his wife Mariamma).

I got a letter from Oommen Chandy, the groom-to-be, after the wedding was fixed. The first ‘love letter.’ I was, naturally, anxious to read it. The two lines caught me by surprise. It read though: ‘It is election time, keep me in your prayers.’

Then, I did not know much of Oommen Chandy or his politics. It was Oommen Chandy’s second election from Puthupally. The contest was tough and the opposing candidate was P C Cherian. My cousin also instilled some fear in me and said: “Pray well.” I prayed hard; the blame should not come on the new bride if he fails.

Oommen Chandy won and I felt a certain happiness. There were many elections after that but that feeling of joy was special and unsurpassed. He became a minister and the wedding got delayed due to his busy schedule. Relatives started saying in hush-hush tones that the wedding would be called off. But I had all faith in the man.

The two-line replies to my long letters and two phone calls a week were adequate to gauge him. I am still sure of Oommen Chandy’s word.

In Kunju (that is what I call him), I like and detest the same quality – he is naïve. He inherited it from his mother. He cannot say ‘no’ to anything. He exhibits enormous patience and humility.

50 years in the Assembly: Mariyamma speaks of husband Oommen Chandy's first love

Probably, it is this trait that keeps the 43-year-old marriage going – with one who has never spared time for shopping or anything on the home front.

He is never arrogant, never tries to control one, and seldom gets angry. There is complete freedom. He is not picky about food. If there is a rotting fruit on the table among many, Kunju would pick that to eat. That is him.

Any outward appearance or a well-dressed partner is not something that gets his attention. It doesn’t matter to him. He is more concerned about the people and the constituency.

In Old Testament, Jacob falls in love with a beautiful Rachel. He embraces her by the heart. But the turn of fate, Jacob has to get married to an unattractive Lia. Puthupally is Oommen Chandy’s Rachel and I am his Lia. We live on with mutual trust and respect.

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