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I came to know Ranjita when her younger sister Smita was teaching my son in a small local school.  They were a family of three sisters from rural Uttar Pradesh.  Their family was highly respectable and belonged to a community of Brahmins, the highest of the Hindu castes.  However, their father was not very well off financially and was unable to pay large dowries for the marriages of his three daughters.  In their particular community, large dowries were  de rigeur.

Smita, a happy, good natured young woman with a large, friendly smile was very excited, as a bridegroom had been found for her elder sister Anita, aged around thirty two.  The man was a widower from Delhi, with two small children.  His wife had died in an accident the previous year.  The eldest sister Ranjita, aged thirty four, the same as I was then,  had been, Smita informed me, married about five years previously to a much older man, a widower.  She was now the mother of a four year old son.   

Yash and I attended Anita's wedding with our then two small children, Neil and Mel.  The wedding was a very nice, family affair.  We were made feel very welcome indeed.  Smita had obviously told the whole family that she had a friend from Ireland who was married to an Indian.  Everyone was very curious to see the children.  Yash, who had not initially been very enthusiastic about attending, enjoyed the evening immensely.  The couple who had just been married were a little older than the usual newlyweds I had been accustomed to meeting, but both looked perfectly happy and at ease.  I had a few words with the bride's father.  He spoke of his happiness at seeing his second daughter married.

"Now I am living for the day that I will see Smita married!" he told me, "And my work will be complete!"  As it happened, it took ten years more for a suitable bridegroom to be found for Smita.  I attended her wedding last year.  It was a similar, happy occasion.  But it was another couple who caught my attention on that previous evening at Anita's wedding.

"Where's your sister Ranjita?" I asked Smita.  "And where is her husband?"  I was curious to see Smita's elder sister who was married to the much older man.  Smita pointed them out to me, and introduced them.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Ranjita, Smita's elder sister, was a strikingly beautiful young woman, with sharp, sculpted features, a fair complexion and a radiant, sparkling smile.  And her husband was a perfect match for her, a tall, gentlemanly and extremely courteous man, full of good humour.  The two of them looked perfect together.  I could not believe that there was a twenty five year age difference between the two of them.  They both looked ageless.

Smita told me that her sister met the gentleman when she was studying for her Master's degree in political science in a degree college.  He was teaching there.  When he came to know that both he and Ranjita were from the same community he met her parents and proposed to marry their daughter.  They were not enthusiastic initially, because of the age difference.  But they saw the advantages.  He was quite comfortably well off, he was of their community, he was a widower with no children and most importantly, the girl was quite keen to marry him.  So they consented to the marriage.  Ranjita gave birth to a son within two years.  The boy is now attending college, and the couple are still quite happy together.

Yash and I visited Ranjita's home one evening when Smita was there.  We had a nice time.  Ranjita's husband welcomed us.  We had tea and biscuits.  Then Ranjita, Smita and I took the kids and went into the back room to have a friendly chat while the husbands discussed matters of importance.  We had a good time, lots of laughter and good humour.  I thoroughly enjoyed that visit.

"I feel sorry for Ranjita!" said Yash to me, later, when we were at home.  "Such a young, beautiful woman married to an old man like that!"

"What on earth are you talking about?" I replied.  "The woman positively radiates contentment. She looks perfectly happy to me!"  He thought about it for a minute.

"I suppose so!" he said.  "Now go and put the kids to bed.  And bring me a cup of tea.  As soon as you can!" he added, as an afterthought.

As I put the kids to bed, I couldn't help remembering an old saying of my grandmother's.  "Better to be an old man's darling than a young man's slave."

The truth is, it doesn't matter how old your husband is as long as he's good to you.  And good for you.


  1. Your grandmother was right.. as they so often are. Nice to know that Ranjita is so content in her marriage. I often wonder how that works out in arranged marriages. Did you not have the opportunity to meet the couple at Anita's wedding?

  2. You know my husband is eighteen years older than I am. He is such a sweetheart and so good to me that I can't believe my good fortune in finding such a generous and kind man.

    I love this post!

  3. Great story. It was written like a fable, with a moral and everything. Very nice. Stopped by from SITS to say Happy Saturday Sharefest

  4. Hello :) thank you for stopping by my blog and happy SITS saturday sharefest :)
    I think it totally depends on the two individual persons. Some people my age (22) seem like kids to me, others who are way beyond 30 still do too, others again are exactly the opposite. Who cares about an "old" husband when it's the personality you love :)

  5. "Better to be an old man's darling than a young man's slave." I love that line...and the whole post!

  6. I totally agree with your grandmother, I talk from experience!

  7. Gaelikaa, I am sixty seven and a widower the last over a year. Do you think that there is any hope for someone like me too?

  8. So well said! One of my sister's is married to a man many years her senior, and she couldn't be happier.


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