It was a matrimonial meet with a difference. Among the 21 persons – 11 men and 10 women – who had signed up, the youngest was 55 years old. Take the example of 92-year-old Ratish Ranjan Bhattacharya, a Salt Lake citizen and father of three, who signed up for the meet. He is an ex-army man who lost his wife over 25 years ago.
“My son is in Washington, and both my daughters are married and living in different districts of the state. I am attached to a number of NGOs, but let’s say I get lonely sometimes, and so I am looking for a friend,” he told The Indian Express.
Living on his pension and the interest from his savings, he is quite independent and has not broken the news to his family. “What I do with my life is my decision, and I intend to keep it that way,” he said.
In the case of 80-year old Devi Ghosh, however, the situation is different. Hailing from Serampore in Hooghly district, her only daughter is married and settled in the UK. Her husband, Kanu Ghosh, used to be the assistant of famous music director Salil Chowdhury.
“After his death about 11 years ago, I had been left all alone. While my daughter takes care of all my expenses now, I feel very lonely at home and need company. I want a friend. When I broke the news to my daughter and her husband, they were very cool about it. In fact, they want to come over and participate in my marriage,” she told The Indian Express.
The meet, organised by authorities of old age home Thikana Shimla and NGO HelpAge India, was intended to give senior citizens a fresh lease of life.
“It involves many impediments, and we know it. We will not only be helping them find an alliance, but we will be keeping a tab on how it goes. If necessary, we will give family counselling and on December 1 next year – exactly one year after this – if we see some of the relationships formed are fine, only then can we call it a success,” said Dr Amitava Dey Sarkar, secretary of Thikana Shimla. He said they intended to put up a website, but people who registered wanted to keep it a low-key affair.
One couple, Purnendu Mitra (64) and Madhabi Mitra (50), exchanged garlands at the event amidst applause from the others.