The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lovelorn grandma on fast

Hyderabad, May 6: It could be the usual teenage love story ' the heartbroken girl on fast, pining for her 35-year-old boyfriend whom her family won’t let her marry because of the age mismatch.

Except that the would-be bride is 82.

Uyyala Penchalamma had befriended Venkateswarlu when her family drove her out on the streets of Udayagiri town in Nellore district, 450 km southeast of Hyderabad, a few months ago.

Forced to beg for a living, the frail widow found solace in the company of Venkateswarlu, nearly 50 years her junior, who also lived on the alms he got from devotees at local temples.

It was when they decided to get married after a “courtship” lasting a few months ' and became the talk of the town ' that fear of a scandal prompted her family and neighbours to step in and drive the man away.

The family has taken Penchalamma back but she has been on a “hunger strike” for the past four days.

“Our grandmother refuses to eat, or even drink water, unless we bring Venkateswarlu back to her,” said Uyyala Prakash Rao, who runs a cigarette stall in the coastal town.

When the family sent Venkateswarlu packing from the locality for the first time two months ago, a spirited Penchalamma had searched through the town’s temples and brought him back.

But her neighbours and relatives beat the man up and drove him away again on Tuesday.

The police, who say Penchalamma has threatened to fast till death if Venkateswarlu is not produced before her, are now searching for him across the district. But the young lover, scared by the death threats from the woman’s family, seems to have gone into hiding.

If Penchalamma eventually finds her man and marries him, she would still not be able to match the feat of Wook Kundor, a 104-year-old woman in northern Malaysia who last week married a man 71 years younger.

Besides, Penchalamma would be marrying only for the second time while Kundor’s marriage with ex-army serviceman Muhammad Noor Che Musa, 33, was the childless woman’s 21st.

There’s one similarity, though. Neither woman has any money that could have lured her man ' so love’s the only explanation.

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