Key Takeaways:

Chandrakant and Surekha went from an arranged marriage to falling in love before the wedding. Celebrate love this Valentine's Day by reading their story.

Chandrakant grew up in Alibaug, Maharashtra, a beautiful beach town in western India. He moved to Mumbai in the early 1980s to find work. Little did Chandrakant know that he'd also find his wife. At the time, he worked for Rashtriya Chemical and Fertilizers and wanted to devote a few years to his career before settling down. But Chandrakant's family had other plans. 

In 1985, Chandrakant's family dragged him to visit a potential wife. He tried to explain that he had no interest in getting married, but it was no use. During Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, Chandrakant stepped into a stranger's house and laid eyes on Surekha. She was stunning—is stunning. In a blue saree and long dark hair, Surekha reminded Chandrakant of Lakshmi, a Goddess who blesses long-haired women. When Surekha smiled at Chandrakant, all ideas of a single lifestyle disappeared.

Surekha was not so impressed. Her family knew next to nothing about Chandrakant and decided to spend a few weeks researching this potential husband before allowing a courtship to begin. After weeks of researching, Chandrakant decided to take matters into his own hands. He showed up at their door, laid out his life story and habits (good and bad), and asked to court Surekha. After that conversation, they decided to get married. 

Leading up to the wedding, Chandrakant and Surekha met every day. She helped him open a bank account at her work, and he took her to the movies. Since they got out of work around the same time, they would often ride to Sion and get dinner or go to the new coffee houses. Every night, Chandrakant dropped Surekha back home. Even though Surekha wasn’t sure about him at first, she fell a bit more in love on every date they went on. And so did Chandrakant. After six months of courtship, their wedding week finally came. The ceremonies were simple, elegant, and traditional. People from all around the village brought gifts to congratulate the newlyweds.

In the 35 years since their wedding, Surekha and Chandrakant supported each other through hardships, bringing love and joy. They have laughed, fought, compromised, and raised a wonderful son who now lives in California. One of their favorite things to do together is travel. Before the pandemic, Surekha and Chandrakant went on two trips each year. One inside of India and the other internationally. Together they've explored Australia, Europe, Sri Lanka, Andaman Nicobar Islands, New Zealand, and the United States.

Whenever they are together, Chandrakant and Surekha are happy. Their reluctance to spend time apart caused issues with their families as Surekha rarely stayed over at her mother's because she never wanted to spend a night away from her husband. 

To this day, Chandrakant falls in love all over again when he sees Surekha in a saree. He remembers the day their son was born vividly. Surekha’s pain broke his heart. As she cried, he cried. He refused to have any more children after that experience. Eleven months after their son was born, he was hospitalized. The experience was traumatizing, but Surekha remembers how Chandrakant stayed strong and did everything in his power to make sure their son was safe. Celebrating that first birthday with her son is one of Surekha's fondest memories. 

Two decades later, their son graduated from NYU. They flew to New York to support him and acted as parents to five other Indian men whose parents couldn't make it. Chandrakant and Surekha cherish this memory. It’s a profound responsibility and joy they can't put into words.

During the pandemic, the couple retired and now get to spend every day together cooking, watching movies, and taking classes on GetSetUp. Chandrakant and Surekha even won the Wellness Buddy Challenge! Every day is Valentine's day for them. Every sunrise is an opportunity to cherish each other. They are both so glad Chandrakant's family never took no for an answer.

May 27, 2022
Learner Stories
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