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Love in 1951, marriage in 2002
- Separated in youth, Bani and Robin find each other in fairytale reunion

Serampore, Dec. 30: She was 19, he was 20 — or even a year younger— and they fell in love.

Fifty years on, they have come together.

Robin Behura, 70, and Bani Sequeria, 69, took the marriage vows today at Serampore John Nagar Baptist Church in the presence of close relatives and one of the two daughters of the bride.

The first part of Bani and Robin’s story is familiar. They met and liked what they saw in each other while studying at Calcutta’s Scottish Church College, only to be separated, first by professional compulsions and then by marriage to different persons.

They pursued different lives — she, a doctor, spent most of her working life in West Asia; he, a former executive of a US-based firm and resident of Jodhpur Park in Calcutta.

“We met in 1951 while we were studying. But we followed our own professional lives and later got married,” said Robin.

Their paths were unlikely to cross. But Bani and Robin met again, at a church here six months ago. She had lost her husband and he his wife.

Fifty years separated their common past from the present, but not the future.

The couple flinches at their story being called the rediscovery of love in old age, and would like to be seen as two people coming together to dedicate their lives to social work.

“I met Bani again at the Joynagar church in South 24-Parganas where both of us had gone to attend a meeting,” Robin, who is also the chief coordinator of the Bangiya Christiya Parishad (Bengal Christian Council), said. Reverend Banabihari Mondal, the head priest of John Nagar Baptist Church, said he had known Robin for 15 years.

“Robin came to me and sought my opinion whether he should spend the rest of his life with Bani as his wife. They sat with me for counselling and I decided that they should marry,” Mondal said.

“I feel ecstatic,” Bani, who now lives in Serampore, said. She acknowledged that if it were not for the reverend, they would not have be able to fulfil what they had felt for each other in their youth.

“We are planning to spend the rest of our lives together doing social service,” she said.

As the bride, in a cream silk sari bordered with orange, got off the car in front of the church to be greeted and escorted by her daughter, and then to be led up the aisle by an elderly relative, the air bristled with a buzz of excitement.

Bani’s daughter had come to attend the marriage with her husband and child from Dhaka where they live. Her other daughter works in the US.

The groom’s son, an executive in a company in Calcutta, was not around either. There was also a gathering of the local Christian fraternity, curious to witness a happy re-union.

The venue incidentally was the same church in which William Carey, founder of the first Bengali printing press, used to stay and where he too had married a Danish girl late in life.

At the nuptials between the slender Bani, her short-cropped hair all white, and the tall and robust, moustached Robin in a dark blue suit, the choir sang Premje chiro modhur, prem je chiro ujjal… (love is always sweet, love is always bright).

Later, the couple exchanged rings and Reverend Mondal pronounced them man and wife amid loud applause.

A feast at a nearby place followed in the afternoon. And a honeymoon, though not immediate, is not ruled out.

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