KOCHI: It was a fight for the window seat in a school bus that first made Sangeetha aware of Saji Surendran. They were students in the Lourdes Mount Higher Secondary school at Vattappara, Thiruvananthapuram. “The seniors felt that they had a right to a window seat,” says Sangeetha. At that time, Sangeetha was in Class 5, while Saji was in Class 7.
Thereafter, Saji kept staring at Sangeetha. At school, her class was at some distance away from his. But he would always come there during the lunch break so that he could see Sangeetha.
On the last day after the annual exams, the school van was taking the students home. When Sangeetha stepped off at Nedumangad, the van had to go forward, take a reverse, and then go back. “I was waiting in front of my house to say goodbye to my friends,” says Sangeetha. “Everybody said bye and looked away, except for Saji, who turned his head and kept on staring at me. That was when a spark of affection sprang in my heart.”
Meanwhile, Saji’s mother Vijaylakshmi was looking for a house, nearer to her office, the Hindustan Latex Limited, in Peroorkada. Incidentally, Saji’s father worked in Dubai. And, amazingly, they got a place bang opposite Sangeetha’s house. “I took this as a sign from God,” she says.
Soon Sangeetha got friendly with Saji’s sister Asha. “After a while, Asha told me in a humorous way that Saji had feelings for me,” says Sangeetha. “Then one day she gave me a note and said it was from Saji. When I opened it, it was written, ‘I Love You.’ I got scared and excited at the same time.”
After a few days, Asha said, “What is your reply?” So, Sangeetha wrote a similar note and gave it to Asha.
As for Saji he had no doubts about his feelings. Once when his mother was standing outside, he said, “Do you want to see your future daughter-in-law?”
The mother said, “Where?”
Saji said, “Look straight ahead.”
And when she did so, she saw Sangeetha standing in front of her house.
Later, when they grew up, and were studying at Mahatma Gandhi College, things finally came out in the open. When Saji heard that Sangeetha had received a marriage proposal, through a telephone call that she had made to him, he met her mother, Vijayakumari, and said, “I came to tell you something serious. I want to marry your daughter, but I need some time.”
For Vijayakumari, there was a caste issue. While Sangeetha is a Nair, Saji is an Ezhava. Anyway, after many hurdles, both families agreed to the marriage. It took place on March 16, 2005, at an auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram. It had been 15 years since Saji and Surendran had first met.
On their wedding day, the entire batch of students, teachers, and the principal from their school were present. “I will never forget the sight of seeing so many of our school mates,” says Sangeetha.
In fact, a few days before the wedding Saji and Sangeetha had gone to the school to invite all the teachers. “The welcome that we got was unforgettable,” says Sangeetha. “All of them knew about our affair. There was a cake in the staff room which had been bought for some reason. But they made me cut it and share it with Saji.”
Interestingly, when the horoscopes were matched, the astrologer said that they had been husband and life in their previous life. “That is why we had such an attraction to each other from a young age,” says Sangeetha.
So, it is not surprising that after nine years of marriage, the attraction remains strong. “Saji is a caring person,” she says. “If he is going anywhere, he will call me every two hours. My father often teases me about this. Saji is always buying me gifts like saris, salwar kameezes, necklaces, rings and bangles. And even though we have tiffs, and ninety per cent of the time I am the cause, it is Saji who always makes up with me.”
However, there are persistent quibbles, like food. “I am a vegetarian, while Saji is non-veg,” says Sangeetha. “But I have learned to cook all non-vegetarian dishes. But when we go out we have fights on where to eat. I will be looking for a vegetarian restaurant, while Saji will be searching for non-veg.”
On the professional front, despite Saji’s passion for Sangeetha, films are his first love. “Yes, I am wife no. 2,” she says. “Films are our bread and butter. So I don’t have a problem that he spends so much time on his work.”
Saji’s filmography includes Happy Husbands, Four Friends, Husbands in Goa, and Angry Babies in Love.
For Sangeetha, Happy Husbands is her favourite film. “I liked the comedy in it,” she says. “And I was so happy that it ran for 175 days. But Saji reacts coolly to success. He knows that at the box office, success and failure are very close to each other.”
Finally, when asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Sangeetha says, “You should be open and honest with each other. All spouses have important likes. For a husband it may be his job or profession. I may have some important likes. So, if both spouses give equal importance for everything, there will not be any problem.”