RADHICA DE SILVA
Senior Multimedia Journalist
The love story of Cheryl and Vishnu Ramjattan has not only endured for half a century but has blossomed as a source of inspiration for all who have crossed their paths.
Nestled on a breezy hillside in Esperance, just on the outskirts of San Fernando, Vishnu, 74, and Cheryl, 71, gracefully embrace their golden years by indulging in the simple joys of reading, relaxation, and caring for each other.
Last December, they celebrated 51 years of marriage.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Guardian’s WE magazine, the couple said fate intertwined their destinies 55 years ago when Cheryl was 16 and Vishnu was 19.
“At that time, I was an engineering draughtsman studying at the San Fernando Technical Institute. I used to walk down the road in Central Barrackpore to get a taxi to go to school. She used to go to visit her grandmother, whose house was right near the junction where I would wait for a taxi,” Vishnu recalled.
Cheryl said every day she would dress up and wait for Vishnu, hoping to catch his eye, but he never looked at her. Eventually, she mustered up the courage to say hello.
A whirlwind romance followed, marked by four years of courtship, laughter, and shared dreams.
Cheryl said their engagement was bigger than their wedding and when they took their vows, they knew their love would last a lifetime. Vishnu had been afraid to ask for her hand in marriage, but Cheryl said her father agreed to their marriage because he recognised how much Vishnu meant to her.
They eventually had two sons–Randi and Shiva, a beloved daughter-in-law, Crystal, and two grandchildren–Christian and Casselina.
Creating a peaceful home
In their early years, Cheryl and Vishnu built memories with their family. He worked at Texaco, Trintoc and then Petrotrin, doing dangerous work inside the Petrotrin subsea pipes. As the area superintendent, he would often come home tired and frustrated.
“I would come home really late. Sometimes one o’clock in the morning I would reach back home, but it was always a comfort to see Cheryl,” Vishnu recalled. Cheryl said the key to a happy marriage was ensuring their home was a peaceful place.
As a stay-at-home mother, she was in charge of caring for her family and would drop and pick up her children from school.
Reflecting on the secret to their enduring bond, Cheryl emphasised the importance of spirituality, communication, compromise, and compassion.
“Arguments may arise, but we always strive to resolve them fairly. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and show compassion,” she remarked, her voice tinged with wisdom gleaned from years of experience.
“Trust is the cornerstone of a good marriage, respect too,” Vishnu added, nodding in agreement.
Throughout the years, the couple said they maintained their individuality, enjoying their separate hobbies.
In Vishnu’s case, he loved cricket, so Cheryl ensured that he got the space to enjoy his games.
“I don’t like cricket. I like reading, so when he went with his friends and family to watch cricket, I would stay home and read,” she recalled.
Yet, amidst their differences, Vishnu said they found harmony in their shared values and mutual respect.
“I would take her to the bookshop to get books to read,” he reminisced. And Cheryl said Vishnu hated to shop, yet he compromised and always took time off to take her shopping.
She said living a simple life was the key to their success.
“What do you want a fancy life for? Live within your means. If we pursued a fancy life, I would have had to go out and work so we could have two incomes and then the children would not have their mother at home. So we were contented to live a simple life,” she added.
Saying she loved her husband dearly, Cheryl revealed that their relationship was built on strong spiritual grounds as well as support for each other.
“Jesus is the big rock in our family and Vishnu is the little rock that I lean on. I do not know what I would do without him,” she said with a smile.
Vishnu said Cheryl’s spirituality and devotion to their family kept him grounded.
He said as they gracefully navigate the golden years of their marriage, they have found solace in the cherished memories they have created together.
“You see all these albums and pictures, Cheryl put them together. She enjoyed creating memories for the family,” Vishnu explained with a laugh.
He said their family trips abroad as well as their simple moments spent in the garden, at home, in his work shed or with their grandchildren, have all been equally special.
Young couples today give up on love too easily
Cheryl said young couples today give up on love too easily. She said they sometimes fail to build relationships based on trust and respect.
Her advice was simple yet profound: “Put God in the centre of your marriage, never give up too easily, communicate openly and honestly, and never let the sun set on an argument.”
She also underscored the importance of laughing through difficult times and being able to forgive and forget.
“Forgiveness is important,” Cheryl declared. “We laugh at everything. We do have unfair arguments sometimes, but we try to argue fairly even though sometimes we may be angry with one another.”
The couple said they remain grateful for each other and hope other couples can find joy in their marriages by putting God in the centre of their relationships. They also said couples must work hard to maintain trust, respect, compassion and communication.