25-year-old Sanhita Agarwal lost her father two years ago to a silent heart attack. The death of the 52-year-old created a massive void in her life and the lives of her bereaved mother, Geeta, and sister.
“It was a major shock for all of us, as my dad wasn’t sick at all and we never thought it could happen so early,” she says.
Every day she would look on as her mother longingly watched her husband’s favourite spots in the house to sit, talk, eat and laugh.
Six months had passed, but there was no respite. Sanhita would come home from office just to see her mum sitting outside the house by the stairs reminiscing about her husband.
She would sob uncontrollably in front of his photograph blaming God and would shout his name in the middle of the night, waking Sanhita and asking, “Papa Kaha hai? Where is Dad? ”
A few months later, when Sanhita got the opportunity to move to Gurgaon to work for Yatra, she cursed herself for leaving her mother behind and placing her career first. But the prospects in her hometown were few.
Nonetheless, she visited her Mum every weekend, travelling all the way from Gurgaon to Jaipur.
Living for over three months in Gurgaon helped Sanhita reflect on the sacrifices her mother had made throughout her lifetime. She knew how nobody other than a life partner could fulfil the void that was sinking a hole in her mum’s heart.
So in a move that is perhaps unthinkable for most children, she decided to find a partner for her mother herself.
“I wanted to find someone of her age, with the same understanding level. Someone, who had felt the loss of a partner and was looking for emotional support too. Someone she could talk to about her day and share a cup of tea and life with,” says Sanhita.
She created a profile for her mother on a popular matrimony website with a small bio, profile picture and entered her own contact details. She would play the role of the matchmaker and screen every potential match before connecting her mum to them.
When Sanhita told her mother of her plan, she was flabbergasted. Her mother even yelled at her for a bit, saying she’d rather live alone than be taunted by society and her own family for thinking about remarrying at the age of 50.
Sanhita was now burdened with what she calls the “humongous task” of convincing her mum to look at the other side of it.
She remembers telling her mother, “Every person has a right to live their life their way without caring about societal pressures. When you are alone at the age of 80, these people will not rush to your aid. Only a life partner can do that, and you would do that for him in turn. You deserve to give your life a second chance. It wasn’t your fault if Papa had to go, but it’ll be your fault now not to give yourself another chance, mom. Please think.”
Her words helped her mother upturn norms. It was around October 2017, that a 55-year-old revenue inspector from Banswara, Krishnan Gopal Gupta contacted Sanhita on the matrimonial site.
He had lost his wife to cancer in 2010 and is a father of two sons.
When, after many conversations, the time to meet drew near, Geeta required a hysterectomy. She told Gupta that they might have to postpone their meeting due to her procedure.
At the mention of her surgery, Gupta decided to came to Jaipur and stay by her side in the hospital for three days.
“If I cannot stand by you in sickness and health, then what is the role I am even playing?” Sanhita remembers Gupta telling her mother.
Moved by his gesture and the support her showed the family, Geeta decided to give marriage another shot, and the two got married as per Arya Samaj traditions on 3rd December 2017.
Though it was a small ceremony, over 400 people from both families, as well as Gupta’s neighbourhood, came merely to give their blessings to Sanhita and congratulate the couple.
Sanhita talks delightfully of how her mum just found the right partner in her new dad. She recalls how two years ago, her mum’s colleague, a fellow teacher rebuked her mother for wearing a bindi and bright coloured clothes after her husband passed.
Her mum had stopped wearing colourful clothes or jewellery ever since. But looking at her mother smiling, grooming herself, wearing everything she loved and most importantly sharing her life with someone who returns the same love and respect, makes Sanhita proud.
“We had people aged 80 and above walking up to us and telling us that in a small way, we have ignited a spark for a change. Most parents stop living their own lives once their kids get married, move away or when they lose their spouse. I feel it is our responsibility as children to give those who spent years running behind us a second chance at happiness. I encourage children of single parents to reach out to their own parent and think about doing something similar for them.”