Kolli Ramanamma and Kolli Raji Naidu, a couple who stay at Anuraag Human Services in Hyderabad explain how little remembrances and gestures have kept their love alive for 6 decades
Kolli Ramanamma, 74, remembers the time her children and husband surprised her on their wedding anniversary with a ton of gifts when she was least expecting it. She laughs as she recalls how they would compete for her attention.
Ramanamma married Kolli Raji Naidu, now 77, in 1962, in Palakollu, Andhra Pradesh. “The first time we met was magical for both of us,” she says in Tamil. From then until now, they chat frequently about this and that, debating everything before coming to a conclusion. “Many couples don’t talk about the good old days; this couple does,” says Sujatha G, a yoga teacher who has spent nearly 2 years at the Hyderabad-based Anuraag Human Services, a senior care home where the 3 live.
While “adjustment” is a word often thrown into the marriage mix, Sujatha, who helps connect us with the couple over a call because of Covid restrictions, says she has never seen any signs of it with the couple. In fact, Ramanamma thinks about it and says, “I have never had any situation where I’ve had to adjust; nothing has ever been forced on me.” Raji has always been a devoted husband, who just ‘got’ his wife, understanding her thoughts and words.
She remembers him buying saris for her, and he remembers how she’d make his favourite dish, pappu charu. “It became a favourite of mine too later on,” she says. “When my husband gives me anything, I feel both joy and affection, even if it’s a modest token of appreciation. It doesn’t matter how big the gift is, it’s the hands that deliver it to me that matter.”
Yet, they’re surprised about why we want to talk to them about love – they take it so much for granted.
Also, the past 5 years has been tough on the couple. Raji was unable to return to work when a medical emergency left him paralyzed. “I never imagined we’d end up here,” he says, voicing the fact that they have 2 sons, who they’d hoped would look after them.
“My daughter is the one who looks after us,” Ramanamma says, her voice heavy. “She couldn’t persuade her in-laws to let us stay in her house, but she offers us emotional support and pays us frequent visits. She also helps us financially.” The irony, Ramanamma admits, is that they didn’t do more to help their daughter be financially self-sufficient.
Consequently, when Ramanamma talks about love, she speaks about her daughter and Anuraag Human Services in the same breath. “Both love us without any expectation,” she says. Another love that’s a constant is god’s that shines through their daughter and the staff of the senior care home, she feels, so she visits the temple daily. Her husband is a part of her, and she often speaks for them both
Ramanamma enjoys her daily yoga sessions. “At first, my husband was embarrassed and reluctant to do any exercise in front of the other residents. To get him to, I had to tell him a lot of jokes and encouraging stories,” she says, laughing.
Towards the last part of our conversation, her husband speaks not to us, but to her: “I am lucky to have you as my wife, for helping me sail through every storm since our marriage.”
The Billion Hearts Beating Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in April 2010 by Apollo Hospitals, with the objective of providing healthcare and health awareness across India.