Cen­tury awaits cou­ple

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - ALASTAIR LYNN

The coun­try’s long­est mar­ried cou­ple are about to notch up yet an­other mile­stone.

To­gether for 81 years, Jeram and Ganga Ravji of Mt Roskill were named New Zealand’s long­est-mar­ried cou­ple by lobby group Fam­ily First ear­lier this year.

Now they are about to be­come a cou­ple of cen­te­nar­i­ans.

On June 6 Ganga Ravji will turn 100 – barely a month af­ter her hus­band.

Four gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily now live in New Zealand but the path to a cen­tury has not been an easy road for the cou­ple.

They were both born in the small In­dian town of Karadi and be­trothed to each other at the age of 6.

Ganga says it was a com­mon oc­cur­rence for chil­dren in the area to be kid­napped un­less they were be­trothed.

In 1928 Jeram moved to New Zealand but re­turned pe­ri­od­i­cally to In­dia af­ter mar­ry­ing Ganga at 19 years old.

It was dur­ing one of these vis­its that Jeram be­came swept up in the In­dian in­de­pen­dence move­ment, stood along­side Ma­hatma Gandhi and earned the ti­tle of ‘Free­dom Fighter’.

Jeram says many men in his prov­ince threw their sup­port be­hind Gandhi’s Salt March.

But Jeram was ar­rested dur­ing the op­po­si­tion against Bri­tish rule and thrown in prison for 10 months.

Be­fore his ar­rest, Ganga was rou­tinely tor­tured and beaten by po­lice de­mand­ing in­for­ma­tion on her hus­bands’ where­abouts.

‘‘The po­lice brought him to our vil­lage and con­firmed they had the right per­son and they took him to the cen­tral jail,’’ Ganga says.

Jeram was taken more than 300 kilo­me­tres away to Sabar­mati Cen­tral Jail.

‘‘In those days there were trans­port prob­lems and with two young chil­dren, to go and see him was very hard,’’ Ganga says.

The sig­nif­i­cance of this pe­riod can­not be un­der­stated but Jeram says it was just some­thing that had to be done.

In 1953 they re­turned to New Zealand and lived in Wan­ganui be­fore mov­ing to Auck­land in 1981.

An ex­tended fam­ily of six chil­dren, 15 grand­chil­dren and 25 great-grand­chil­dren now live in the city.

There is am­ple op­por­tu­nity for large cel­e­bra­tion but Ganga says a sim­ple af­ter­noon tea will be suf­fi­cient.

Jeram and Ganga Ravji have six chil­dren, 15 grand­chil­dren and 25 great-grand­chil­dren liv­ing in Auck­land.

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