The first time Anna Linda met the politician Hibi Eden, it was to interview him about his memories of Onam for a television channel in 2008. This was held at the Hill Palace in Tripunithura. There were other politicians present. “Hibi was in a hurry,” says Anna. “I asked a few questions. He was quiet and silent, as compared to the others.”
Six months later, Anna was walking through Kaloor, Kochi, with her brother, Aristo, when she came across Hibi at the bus stand. The Kochi-based politician was on his way to Chalakudy. “Hi Hibi,” said Anna. It took some time for Hibi to recognise her. At the taping of the interview, she was wearing a saree, but now she was in jeans and a T-shirt. They talked a bit.
Later, Hibi invited her to be her friend on the Orkut web site. “Soon, we were checking each other’s profile and having online chats,” says Anna. Over a period of time, that graduated to telephone calls. “It would be mostly about politics,” says Anna. It was just before the April, 2009 Parliamentary elections and there was talk that Hibi would be nominated by the Congress for the Ernakulam seat. However, in the end, Prof. K.V. Thomas got the nod.
Meanwhile, it was difficult for both of them to go out on dates. “Hibi was a known figure and if we did that tongues would wag,” says Anna. “So our romance was conducted mostly on the phone.”
A few months later, Hibi proposed. Anna asked for some time to think over it. After a week, she said yes. “I knew he was the guy for me,” she says. Anna could tell her parents, but Hibi had nobody. “He lost his mother when he was young and his father died when he was in college,” says Anna. “Hibi is the one responsible for his family. At that time, his younger sister was not yet married.” Anyway, on January 30, 2012, they got married at the St Francis Church at Kaloor, followed by a grand reception at a star hotel which was attended by more than a thousand people.
Regarding his qualities, Anna says, “He is a transparent person. Hibi tells me all about all his experiences during the day. If he meets any of my former colleagues he will text me immediately. And I will message them saying, ‘You met Hibi!’ And they will tell me they are amazed by how well we are communicating with each other.”
Asked whether Hibi is a different person at home, Anna says, “Of course he is. That is the case with anybody. Hibi, at home, is very relaxed and jovial. He is like a normal 29 -year-old. But, in my eyes, he is a phenomenal man.”
The big advantage for Anna is that they both have the same likes. “I love films and he is a movie buff,” she says. “Whenever we get any free time we rush off to see films, be it Malayalam, Hindi, or English.”
Hibi is also a foodie, like Anna. “We eat out two to three times a week,” she says.
But there are drawbacks. Anna had to get used to the loss of privacy. “The house is always crowded from 6 a.m. till 9 p.m.,” she says. “In the first few months, it took me time to adjust to the constant presence of visitors. That is the politician’s life. The people show the same love and affection to me which they extend to Hibi. I have now got used to it.”
And she has also got used to the fact that a politician’s life is very busy. “If Hibi is having a fever and wants to take rest, he might not be able to do so if there is an important programme coming up,” says Anna. “He cannot take leave from this public job. It is 24 hours and seven days a week. The maximum number of functions takes place on Saturday and Sunday.”
Even their honeymoon to Dubai was also affected. “We went for seven days, but had to return earlier because there was an emergency in Kerala,” says Anna.
But there are moments which Anna will always cherish. Once she had fallen sick and went to spend time with her parents in Guruvayur. She missed Hibi very much but because it was the weekend, she knew he would not be able to come and see her. However, at midnight, there was a knock. When her mother opened the door, it was Hibi. “I was touched,” says Anna. “He had come all the way from Kochi just to spend two hours with me. Then he returned because people would be waiting to meet him from 6 a.m. onwards. Hibi surprises me like this all the time.”