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Indian couple returns to Dubai to celebrate 50 years of marriage

They got married at the old St. Mary’s Church on July 8, 1969.

Married for 50 years, Indian couple Claudina and Jovito Alphonso have returned to Dubai after 14 years of retirement to renew their wedding vows at the St Mary’s Church in Dubai, where they got married half a century ago.

Ahead of celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Dubai, Khaleej Times asked the septuagenarians what their secret to a long, happily married life is. The couple answered: “In sickness and in health, in happiness and during troubled times, not once did we leave each other’s side.”

Hailing from Goa, the 73-year-old Jovito and 71-year-old Claudina were childhood friends and neighbours. After Claudina came to the UAE in 1968, Jovito followed soon after, in the search for work opportunities. The couple realised they were in love, and decided to get married at the old St. Mary’s Church on July 8, 1969. Three kids and 35 years later, the couple retuned to Goa for retirement.

On July 8 this year, the couple returned to Dubai and renewed their wedding vows at the same St Mary’s Church. “Our children got us diamond rings. Our marriage certificate is from St Mary’s Church,” said Claudina. They celebrated their wedding anniversary in a grand fashion with their closest friends and family on Friday. Claudina and Jovito worked and lived in Dubai for 35 years before heading back home to Goa.

Their children Edwin Alphonso (49), Freeda D’souza (45) and Ryan Alphonso (40) are all graduates of the Indian High School in Dubai. Freeda and Ryan continue to work in Dubai, while Edwin lives in San Francisco, California. The couple have seven grandchildren.

Love-struck then, and now

Claudina, a former employee of the Dubai Airport, said she was the only Indian female security guard at the airport. “All the other ladies were Arabs. I used to check female passengers outside the airport,” she said.

Jovito worked at the Rashid Hospital for 33 years. “I retired when I turned 52 years old, because my kids got good jobs and were well settled,” said Jovito. Speaking about how the couple met each other, Claudina said they’ve known each other since Grade 9.

“Back then, there was a shortage of textbooks in Goa. I used to exchange books with him. We stayed friends and after I completed by SSLC (Grade 10), I moved to Dubai following my brother and then Jovito came,” she explained.

Jovito said: “We’d both started working, and we knew we liked each other.” She chipped in, saying “my mother wanted to go back to Goa and I knew Jovito and I loved each other. So, I was the one who proposed, not him,” laughed Claudina.

The couple said they had spent 35 happy years in Dubai. “I still speak a few phrases of Arabic,” she said. Speaking about her husband, Claudina said: “He is, and has always been like a guardian angel to me. He was always there with me as a partner, then and now.” Due to a heart complication, Claudina’s right leg had to be amputated. “Not once did he leave my side. He took good care of me. He didn’t keep anyone else to take care of my needs, he did it all himself. My kids also came to my side,” she said.

Jovito added: “Actually, I was always in love with her since Goa. Even when she got sick, we stood beside each other. Our children take good care of us as well.” The couple said they’ve survived a lot of hardships together.

Claudina said she misses Dubai, and feels homesick. However, she comes to visit her kids at least once in two years. Their daughter Freeda said: “For our party on Friday, we’ve invited all friends and family who’ve touched their life one way or the other.”

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88


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