KOCHI: If there is a force strong enough to move mountains, that would be love. Every year, on Valentine’s Day, millions of people celebrate this love that holds them together. This year, as we celebrate February 14, Syama S Prabha and Manu Karthika, a Malayali trans couple, will celebrate their love.
Thrissur native Manu is employed as an HR official at an MNC and Thiruvananthapuram native Syama is a state project officer at the transgender cell under the Kerala Social Justice Department. The duo is busy with preparations to begin a new life with the blessings of their family through a Hindu wedding ceremony on February 14. Both 31, the couple has made strong plans for their wedding and a life together.
While it is the culmination of their love, the duo also sees their wedding as an opportunity to build awareness about the trans-gender community. Manu took a break from work during lunchtime with Syama to open up about their wedding plans to TNIE. As thrilled as they are about their big day, the couple also has a practical outlook towards life.
“We are two responsible individuals and our love relationship is not a fluffy tale like from the movies,” quips the couple. “I fell for Syama due to her bold and understanding nature. She dedicated herself to taking care of her family as an elder child. I am also a person who gives preference to family first. I proposed to her almost four years ago, and she gave me a whole-hearted yes only last year,” says Manu.
Syama is a popular transgender activist too. The PhD applicant says the couple will register their wedding with their transgender identities. “Other weddings in the community were registered as male and female as they chose to keep their binary identities. But we will urge the High Court to register our wedding as one between two transgender individuals. If approved, we will be the first couple to do so. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 and Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 ensure us the right to do this. We hope it will inspire a lot more people to stay who they are,” explains Syama.
For Manu, who hails from a village in Thrissur, his mother was the only one who supported him when he came out. “The only advice she gave me was to study well and own a decent job so that the society won’t look down on me. Karthika, my sister who died a few years ago, always said I was a brother to her. I found the same strength and love they gave me in Syama too. I am proud of my fiance and of the work she does for our community,” says Manu.
Even though they knew each other for over a decade, their love bloomed recently. “We could have started our life together a long time ago. We both struggled to get acceptance from family and society. We could have run away and started new together somewhere. But we were adamant to start life with the blessings of our parents. Syama has built her own house in the capital city for her mother and me to have made my mother’s life comfortable at Thrissur. We plan to rent a house and start our small world,” says Manu. The couple will figure out their post-wedding plans once pandemic clears.