What you need to know:
- Medical doctors Jayant and Kundan Karania have been married for 50 years.
- They share some wisdom about the secret behind their lasting love and friendship.
The bond of friendship between Jayant Karania and his wife Kundan Karania is so strong that it’s almost palpable. They laugh easily, perhaps to insider jokes, as we settle into the interview.
The couple has been married for 50 years. They are both medical doctors and run a clinic together.
They retrace their romantic, parenting and marriage journey that has withstood the test of time since they arrived in Nakuru Town in 1975.
"At the root of every successful marriage is a strong partnership. This partnership started when he walked into my life in India while in college," says Kundan.
"Marriage stands the test of time when both you and your spouse work towards making things better. And we are tested the most when we face challenges and in our case, this has heightened the practice of becoming passionate friends as a couple and this has made our union to be of two good forgivers full of generosity with each passing day," adds Kundan.
Jayant nods in agreement with his wife’s statement:" Ultimately a great marriage isn't something that just happens; it's something that must be created. We have jointly sacrificed and invested in this union."
Kudan says for their marriage to last half a century is a result of investment in genuine love saying,
"Happy marriages begin when two love birds marry the ones they love from the bottom of their hearts and not lips, and they blossom when they love the ones they marry from their hearts.”
The Karanias met when they were teenagers at a medical college in India in 1968. Jayant was 19 while Kundan was 18. The two dated for about two years, according to Kundan, 71, before getting married.
The friendship blossomed and culminated in their marriage in 1970 while they were still in college and the love flame has kept burning as they age gracefully.
“I fell in love with her, actually, at first sight. She was such a beauty to behold and she still is and I wanted to marry her before she could be snatched by the hawk-eyed college students. I didn't want that to happen,” he gushes as they both burst into laughter.
“We studied at Saurashtra University and studied medicine at the MP Shah Medical College which is situated in Jamnagar in the Gujarat state of India,” explains 72-year-old Jayant.
Jayant and Kundan settled in Kenya in 1973 and did their one-year internship at Kenyatta National Hospital. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
So what is the secret to their happy union?
“I don't know if there are any secrets. We just talk it over and try to straighten it out whenever we have a conflict. We communicate with each other. We keep communication lines open. We just respect each other and we love each other. We're best friends,” says Kundan.
She adds: “Over the years, I realised that marriage is a partnership and something that you have to work at to keep everybody happy. So we work well together.”
“We don't do a lot of arguing. We try to understand each other and try not to go to bed angry with each other. We try to get along most of the time and we got along pretty good. We do things together. We go to social gatherings together,” says Jayant adding, “You have got to have a sense of humour and not take things too seriously.”
Adds Jayant: “A healthy marriage requires something as simple as a long hug first thing in the morning; texts, pictures, or videos from your day; talking about the highs and lows at the end of the day, brainstorming together and see what works for your relationship and having a good laugh. Blame games build resentment in your marriage and your marriage will not be happy.”
“If there's a disagreement, apologising right away is the best medicine for any marriage. Taking the time in those little moments just to clarify things to express hurt and extend forgiveness. Choose to stop complaining. Nobody is perfect,” he adds.
“Sometimes, a relationship just needs a little tender loving care. Being kind and respectful, even when you don't feel like it,” offers Kudan.
“The bedrock of a long-lasting marriage is loving one another and a lot of patience, and knowing what's important in life and respect based on the principle of willingness to give and take,” says Jayant.
Conflicts are part of any marriage and the Karanias are not an exception and they resolved the conflicts through talking.
“We talked it over. She expresses her side and I express mine," says Jayant, adding," You have to hear what the other person has to say and try to put yourself in their shoes and try to feel the way the other person is feeling.”
“I think over the years we talked much about making decisions not based on what's best for either one of us, but what's best for our family. The family comes first, not just a single individual,” adds Kudan.
Kundan says arguments should be avoided adding, “Try to be aware of how the other person feels and try not to be all about yourself. And try not to stay angry over little things. Don't sweat over the small stuff.”
“We never had a lot of big arguments and if we did argue, I just shut up. He can't argue by himself. We also had children at home and if we had a little argument, we wouldn't ever let them hear us. I just loved him,” says Kundan.
“My husband taught me this, and he deserves the credit. Sometimes it's so easy to step into the trap of pointing fingers. But in these disagreements, Jayant taught me from the very beginning of our marriage to always look at problems as us against the problem, not to ever think of us against one another. It was a lesson well taught and a lesson learned many times over,” says Kundan.
“Marriage is not 50/50. Divorce is 50/50. Marriage is both people giving 100 per cent and that is why we're still enjoying this ride in our marriage journey,” says Jayant who is also a lawyer and holds a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of London specialising in criminal and juvenile justice.
Kudan says Jayant will always be the man she met at the MP Shah Medical school — the 19-year-old that made insanely good eye contact and enunciated his words so clearly.
“That is what I remember about my first impression of him. It has been a sweet memory to think of him in college and why I fell in love with him, to begin with as we celebrate our jubilee anniversary as a couple,” says Kudan.
“When he proposed to me, I was at a crossroads. I come from the Kshatriyas caste and he comes from the Bania caste and I was not sure whether our marriage will become a reality. Inter-caste system marriages in India were unheard of at that time and age. We faced challenges but after our parents realised our love was firm and there was nothing that could stop us, they gave in they accepted to give us their blessing."
"I remember how he used to remind me of how he loved me and would do anything to make me happy, the outings, lunch and honeymoon are sweet memories that I still cherish,” says Kudan.
“She humbled herself before me and this melted my heart to this day,” says Jayant as they burst into a prolonged laughter
Like their parents, their two daughters Meenal, 45, and Anjali, 40 are in the medical profession and both of them are surgeons in the United Kingdom.
“One is an oral surgeon and the other one is a consultant dental surgeon,” says Jayant.
The two daughters have fond memories of their parents while growing up in Kenya.
“No matter how far I am, my parents are always in me. My parents played the most important role in my development. I thank God that I'm a product of my parents, that they infected me with their intelligence and energy for life, with their thirst for knowledge and their love. I'm grateful that I know where I come from. I consider myself as a very fortunate daughter brought up by two physicians and I thank God for giving them good health. I owe them my success as doctors,” says Meenal.
“One of my biggest blessings in the world is my parents. Two dedicated parents whose lifelong mission was and is still in the medical profession. They are my heroes. I can't see having anyone else as my heroes. These are the best parents one would love to have in their lifetime,” adds Anjali.
The couple says their happiest moments as physicians are endless but when they are with their patients and see them recover from their ailments after putting trust in them makes them happy
“Those moments are lifelong experience. Those moments are uncountable,” says Jayant.
The couple says the best decision they have ever made was to remain in Kenya after arriving in 1974.
“We had many offers including settling down in the US and UK but we decided to live in Kenya and we have no regrets. I think we made the right decision ever. Ageing gracefully at the heart of Rift valley for 45 years is a blessing,” says Jayant.