By Aarian Parikh | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 14, 2018
Gone are the days when flowers spoke a million words, when simple gestures such as sharing a meal or writing poems, were not only sufficient but were highly appreciated means of expressing feeling and emotion. Today, everything is fast-paced: ‘You love me, I love you in return’, seems to be the mantra that defines love today. Rather, if in the year gone by, love was born out of struggle and passion, today, love takes birth with the right swipe on a mobile app!
When you ask the proud club of ‘We the Millennials’ what they expect from love and romance, slogans like ‘Netflix and chill’, jump to their lips. For some, Pyaar ek dhoka hai! But how can we overlook the death of romance and true love, which is still thriving, if only you care to see.
Fortunately, amongst the unseasoned lot of the 21st century, we have the sprinkle of veterans that stand as shining examples with their testimonies of love that has stood the test of time. In this day and age where relationships are as fickle as a flame, we bring to light a spark of love that refuses to die down, but is still burning bright, fanning the flames of togetherness across continents, for the last 60 years. Opening Doorz were fortunate to meet one such couple, Marshal (87) and Philomena Sequeira (76), who celebrated 60 years of togetherness and love on January 13, 2018.
Despite having been introduced to each other through common family, they proved that love can very well exist through an arranged marriage. Parents to five children who are very successful and grandparents to eight, they’ve seen life and the world change before their eyes. It was a pleasure to hear the two speak of the times gone by where they went through so much in life, standing beside the other, and continue to do so, in an age where marriages end in discord so very often.
Aarian Parikh (our 18-year-old writer, who came back amazed) connected with the charming couple, to give us a peak into their early days, the tough years and taking care of five children—three daughters Olivia, Wilma and Aisha who live in Mumbai and two sons, Agnelo who resides in the USA and Anil, Syndey, Australia, all of who had come down for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Here’s some insight into what love really is. Buzzing in his head is the Bob Marley classic… Is This Love That I’m Feeling!
Excerpts from an interview where both, Marshal and Philomena give their insights:
What is the most special memory from the days when you courted each other before marriage?
Our special memory was a visit to Mount Mary fair and enjoying the Ferris Wheel ride. We did not have the means then to do much so this was special. Moreover, Bandra Feast those days was Bandra Feast. It was a place where everyone congregated. And yes, I believe there are many love stories that began from here.
What were the difficulties you faced before marriage, if any, in terms of your families etc.?
No problems at all. Our families were eager we get us married soon, once the introduction was done.
What ups and downs have you faced through your marriage, and how often has the strength of your relationship been tested?
My most challenging time was when any of my five children fell sick and I had to rush to the hospital at odd hours to take care of them. This was difficult as we were migrants to Mumbai from Mangalore, my husband worked shifts and hence unavailable at most times. My strength then and now is God in whom I have tremendous faith and in whom I believe all things are possible. Reflecting back, raising five successful children through a single modest income in a 150-sq-feet chawl shows the enormous blessing our faith has carried us through.
You both have seen the world change around you, what do you think of it? Has it all changed for the better?
People have changed. Today they put themselves first before others, their interests and enjoyment take precedence over caring and respect for others. You see this in all facets of life.
What do you think of the culture today and its new definition of marriage; meaning arrangements like live-in relationships, open relationships etc.?
For us, it is difficult to accept these relationships which are rooted in relations of convenience and personal benefit.
Do you believe that couples in the modern age can maintain a marriage as strong and for as long?
The biggest challenge faced by today’s couple is trusting and acceptance of each other for who they are and putting the other before their own personal interest. Given this mind set, it is a challenge for a union to thrive when individuality always takes precedence.
How has being married for so long changed each of you as individuals?
We have grown stronger and are accepting and respectful of each other: this does not mean that we do not experience anger, frustrations or any such emotions that normal couples go through. We have our ups and downs.
What teachings, from having been together for so long, have been passed down to your family?
A family that prays together stays together: this is something that has been instilled from the beginning in our family. We have prayed the Rosary every evening. We understand and care for each other.
What advice would you like to give readers of this new generation, irrespective of marital status, for a happy life?
Spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation, be happy and content with what you have, be helpful to the needy and less fortunate, spend time with your loved ones showing them you care and value them.
Lastly, do you think romance and love like the old days is dying?
Romance and love the way we experienced is becoming a rarity.
Contemplating on the short, truthful, from-the-heart responses from this always-in-love couple, one can arrive at the conclusion that each individual is to be held responsible for the integrity of a relationship. It’s true that along with familial values, we are passively taught the meaning of love as well. Some learn love to be self-serving, while others learn that love can be more holistic—to appreciate not just one other, but the people around you and life in and by itself. It is this latter meaning which builds people and bonds as strong and admirable as the Sequeira’s.
When love seems to be being severely tested, one can take a page from Mr and Mrs Sequeira’s book. The lesson they give is simple: we ought to find strength in our relationships, and set our roots deep and strong, passing on the torch to the generations to come.
(Do you have an inspiring story to share? Do you know of someone who is a ‘hero’? We at Opening Doorz would love to Open our Doorz for you. Do write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org)