01 December 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
"We had lost our spouses to AIDS; and decided to remarry. At least, we can offer each other solace and togetherness in our twilight years," says the groom, 36, who works with a se curity firm. Dressed in a bottle green saree, the bride smiled happily as the couple exchanged vows at a brief ceremony conducted at the marriage registrar’s office on Ambedkar Road.
The bride’s 11–year–old son was busy clicking photographs; he acknowledges his new father who he calls `Baba’. For the bride, who learnt of her HIV status in 2002, it was a long struggle to pick up the threads of life.
She gained employment at a civic dispensary and admitted her son to an English medium school. "My husband died of AIDS and I am living with my parents."
The couple had met at a meet organised by the Deep Griha Society, Aarogya.com and other NGOs on August 1. The groom has been living with HIV for 12 years now. He had parted ways with his first wife’s family soon after she died of AIDS, so much so that the family has even barred him from meeting his nine–year–old daughter.
"They took her away right when she was born and I was not allowed to see my own child despite repeated attempts. I will look after my new wife’s son like my own child." RM Parekar, marriage officer, Pune district, performed the ceremony while Avinash Chakranayaran, team leader at Deep Griha Society and Dwijen Smart of Aarogya.com (which has a matrimonial website vivaah.com) signed on the marriage certificate as the main witnesses.
Chakranarayan said around 283 people had attended the camp on August 1, and 12 couples who bonded well at the meeting had announced their intention of getting married. Of these, seven couples have already taken their vows.