Stronger to­gether

Siva Kana­p­a­thy, 65 and Sel­varany Ap­pudu­ray, 61

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

Mar­ried 32 years

ON April 11th ev­ery year, Siva Kana­p­a­thy puts on the record­ing of his wed­ding cer­e­mony 32 years ago and watches it with his wife, his chil­dren or some­times just on his own. It’s a rit­ual he hasn’t missed. He even made sure he con­verted the record­ing from its orig­i­nal video tape for­mat into a com­pact disc to pre­serve it.

“Why do I watch it? I don’t know ... I just like to go over it for the fun of it,” he trails off, a lit­tle bash­ful.

In the process, Siva and his wife Sel­varany will go over de­tails of that mean­ing­ful day and ex­change in­sights on what was go­ing through each of their minds dur­ing the cer­e­mony. They are still dis­cov­er­ing new things about each other – like how Siva never re­ally liked the wed­ding sa­ree his bride had on!

Siva and Rany met in 1983.

“It be­gan as a pro­posal. My father was look­ing for a match for me and a mu­tual fam­ily friend spoke of Siva. So he came to see my at home with his mother, sis­ter and his friend. Ba­si­cally, he came to check me out. Even though it started out that way, Siva was adamant right from the start that we should go out and get to know each other be­fore we made any de­ci­sion,” re­lates Rani.

The meet­ing went well... at least for Siva who was pretty sure she was the one for him. “It clicked,” he says, sim­ply. But Rany was more wary of the idea of an ar­ranged mar­riage and took a cou­ple of months to de­cide if she wanted to pur­sue a re­la­tion­ship with him.

“I was study­ing at the time, do­ing my Diploma in TESL ( Teach­ing English as a Sec­ond Lan­guage) and I didn’t want to give that up. I wasn’t sure if he would sup­port me or stop me from fur­ther­ing my stud­ies. So right from the start I told him that was one of my cri­te­ria and he agreed with­out any hes­i­ta­tion,”hes­i­ta­tion, she says, her voice soft­en­ing a lit­tle as she re­calls the past.

Even so, Rany wasn’t fully con­vinced.

Her friends who’d met him and their mu­tual friends were all gun­ning for the two to get to­gether but Rany re­mained on the fence.

“Ev­ery­one kept say­ing what a nice man he is, how we were right for each other ... no one had any­thing bad to say about him. I was scep­ti­cal but once we started go­ing out, I could see that he re­ally was a nice man. He is a true gentle­man,” she says, plac­ing her hand on his arm, adding that the rest is his­tory.

“It clicked for me too,” she says, with a gig­gle,

The fol­low­ing April, the two got mar­ried.

The early years of mar­riage was chal­leng­ing for the young cou­ple who had their two daugh­ters in close suc­ces­sion soon af­ter they mar­ried. Rany con­tin­ued to pur­sue her stud­ies and Siva du­ti­fully worked dou­bly hard to sup­port his grow­ing fam­ily.

“She was study­ing and was only get­ting half her teacher’s salary. To com­pen­sate, I took an­other job at night, man­ag­ing a car wash in the heart of KL. Dur­ing the day, I was a loss ad­juster and af­ter my day job, I’d go to the car wash at 6pm un­til mid­night or some­times even later, seven days a week. At the time, I was also pur­su­ing my de­gree in law. But I couldn’t cope and gave that up. I have no re­grets. I’m still work­ing and very happy,” shares Siva.

Siva’s sup­port, says Rany, is some­thing that has never waned.

“At the time, he re­ally sup­ported my de­sire to study. This is some­thing I don’t think I can ever for­get. It was tough but he was with me all the way. Not only did he sup­port me and the fam­ily fi­nan­cially, he also helped to type out my as­sign­ments at night as I didn’t type very well. We’d stay up late into the night to­gether ... he would al­ways be there for me,” says Rany.

The key to their last­ing mar­riage, they both agree, lies largely in their will­ing­ness to sup­port each other through ad­ver­si­ties.

“There is a lot of give and take. I give, she takes,” says Siva, clearly teas­ing his wife. As if on cue, she gets a lit­tle riled up and re­sponds.

“No. That’s not true. I give too,” she ar­gues. “We help each other out when­ever we can. He is very help­ful in some ways, very par­tic­u­lar about keep­ing the kitchen clean, for ex­am­ple. Be­fore we go to bed, he will al­ways make sure he cleans the kitchen. And so, we leave it to him. We may wash our plates but we leave most of the clean­ing to him,” she says, break­ing out in cheeky laugh­ter as he looks at her know­ingly.

A sense of hu­mour, the abil­ity to laugh at each other and shared val­ues and pri­or­i­ties have strength­ened their mar­riage. Siva and Rany value their fam­i­lies greatly and put the needs of their chil­dren ahead of their own.

“Fam­ily is im­por­tant to both of us. When my mother, father and grand­mother were ill ... not all at once, of course, they came to stay with us and we’d look af­ter them. It’s the same with the chil­dren ... there was no de­lin­eation of du­ties, we shared the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will­ingly,” says Rany who has been car­ing for her mother- in- law who is di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s.

“We de­pend on each other a lot. And no doubt about it, she has con­trib­uted a lot fi­nan­cially, too. She’s re­cently writ­ten a text book that’s be­ing used in schools na­tion­wide!” he says with an un­mis­tak­able ring of ad­mi­ra­tion and pride in his voice, putting his arm around her.

Siva and Rany have sup­ported each other through thick and thin. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The Star

A sense of hu­mour and shared val­ues and pri­or­i­ties have strength­ened this cou­ple’s mar­riage. IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The Star —

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