That old chestnut about marriages being made in heaven and the golden couple living happily ever afterwards could, indeed, be true.
Karam Chand and his wife Kartari from Bradford have been married for 86 years, reportedly making them Britain’s longest married couple and an unlikely advertisement for India’s arranged marriages at a time many Britons look upon any union not born out of instant chemistry and with suspicion as a forced marriage.
They insist that the knot they tied in a Punjab village back in 1925 is still strong and describe their long marriage as a blessing.
The couple – husband (106) and wife (99) – moved to Britain in the first big wave of Indian migration to Britain in 1965 and live with their youngest son Satpal and his family.
Enjoying their rare moment in the media glare, they said they were looking forward to another milestone: Ms. Chand’s 100th birthday next year when she will receive a letter from the Queen who customarily sends greetings to all her loyal centenarian subjects.
Dressed in their Sunday best (the husband in a smart double-breasted suit and wife in sparkling white salwar kameez, head covered with a green dupatta) as they celebrated their 86th wedding anniversary, the Chands said they had lived a good life and had no regrets.
“We know that being married for 86 years is a blessing, but equally we will be ready to go when it’s time, it’s all up to the will of God, but we really have lived a good life,”Ms. Chand told the BBC’s Asian network.
To the inevitable question whether there was a secret behind their long married life, their reply was: no, not really, except moderation.
“Eat and drink what you want but in moderation. I have never held back from enjoying my life,” said Mr. Chand.
He said he smoked one cigarette a day before his evening meal and did not shy away from an occasional chhota Scotch whiskey or a shot of brandy.
Ms. Chand stressed the importance of good wholesome food. “We have always eaten good wholesome food, there’s nothing artificial in our diet but things like ghee [clarified butter], milk and fresh yogurt are what we like,” she said.
The saddest moment of their lives was the death of their eldest son.
“My eldest son died and that was hard for us because you don’t expect to outlive your own children. We have seen many other close family members depart and that’s something we just have to live with,” she said.
Their youngest son said the family felt blessed that our parents are still here with us and every day is a bonus.
“Breaking records is not so important to us, it’s all about living together as one family and respecting each other’s values. If my mother and father are record breakers then they’ve made us even more proud of them than we already are. They’re such lovely people” he said.
This article first appeared in mybindi.com