Married At 100: Love In The Time Of COVID-19

Atika Rehman

As the COVID-19 threat loomed heavy upon the United Kingdom and the British government advised people aged over 70 to prepare for a period of self-isolation, 100-year-old citizen Yavar Abbas had one major concern: how will the coronavirus containment plan impact his upcoming nuptials?

Mr Abbas, a UK-based filmmaker and journalist formerly with the BBC, was all set to marry his partner, Indian activist and writer Noor Zaheer, in a ceremony originally scheduled for March 27. But the coronavirus outbreak and its resulting advisories from the government threw their plans into disarray. As the UK’s confirmed cases approach 2,000, with 104 deaths, British authorities are mulling lockdown measures.

“When we learnt that over 70s will be asked to self-isolate, we took the bus to the marriage registrar’s office to ask if there was a plan B for us,” Mr Abbas told Dawn. “But there was no alternative arrangement and we would be unable to get married if the isolation period started. We then decided to get married immediately. The only available slots they had were within the hour and also the following morning. We were unable to ask our witnesses to come the same day at such short notice, so we agreed to doing it the following morning (March 17).”

Mr Abbas said there was an option to ask the marriage registrar to conduct the registration at their residence, but added that this would have involved a fresh application and delay of another month. “We did not want to waste time.”

Mr Abbas, who hails from Lucknow in UP, began his career as a photographer for the British army during World War II, when he was posted to Burma. In 1945, he was among those who documented the surrender in Japan. He has been associated with BBC Urdu on and off between the 1950s and 2009.

Ms Zaheer and Mr Abbas celebrated their wedding at their home with a small reception attended by a total of six people.

One of the guests, Durdana Ansari, said that she was unable to partake as witness to the registration as originally planned but attended the reception at their home: “Both of them looked so happy and so relieved. I cannot describe the look on their faces — I have not seen such elation on the faces of even young couples. It was like a fairytale, truly a sight to behold.”

Original story appeared in The Dawn.  Click to read full article.

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