Megha Pillai talks about life with the World Dwarf sports champion Joby Mathew
Photo by Mithun Vinod
By Shevlin Sebastian
In June, 2006, Megha Pillai went to take part in a seminar on social work at Kochi. When she was about to sign the attendance register, she saw that somebody had already signed in her column. “When I enquired from the organisers, they said that it resembled the signature of a person called Joby Mathew,” says Megha. Sometime later, Megha saw Joby and was surprised to note that he was only 3' 5” inch tall. They got talking and he said that he had been in a hurry, and that was how the mistake happened.
Thereafter, they went their separate ways. Then in October, when Megha was doing some shopping near Bank Junction in Aluva, (she lived in the town of Chengamanad, 10 kms away), she saw Joby on his three-wheeler scooter. Megha hailed him and said, “Are you not Joby Mathew?”
They conversed a bit. Megha told him she was a dancer. Joby then gave her his visiting card. “He told me that if there are any dance programmes, he should be informed,” she says.
Six months went past. Then, in March, 2007, at Kalady University, where Megha was doing her M. Phil on comparative literature, she was selected to do a Mohinyettam dance for the participants of a national seminar. So she invited Joby. And he came. After the show, Joby complimented her on her performance. Again, they went their separate ways.
Then in June, Joby was involved in an accident when a jeep hit his scooter. Joby’s arm was injured and he was hospitalised. “A friend called and told me that Joby was in a hospital in Aluva,” says Megha. “She had seen a report in the newspaper.”
So Megha went and met him. In August, Megha got caught up in campus violence. Somebody poked a branch of a tree in her face. “I got injured below the left eye,” she says. She was taken to the Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly, where 12 stitches were put. “People thought that I would lose my eye,” she says. “But, by the grace of God, it became alright.”
Joby read the news item and went and saw her in the hospital. By this time, he had begun to develop feelings for Megha.
On September 10, Joby called Megha up and said he liked her. “I want to marry you,” he said. Megha was agreeable. When asked whether, at 5' 5”, she had a hesitation of marrying somebody so short, Megha says, with a smile, “I had no problems that he is physically challenged. I liked him as a person and wanted to marry him. To me, Joby has always been 6' tall.”
Since it was an inter-caste love, her father, who owns a clothes shop at Chengamanad, said no. But everything changed when Joby met the family. The winner of five gold medals at the recent World Dwarf Games impressed with his confidence and positive nature. He also insisted that there was no need for Megha to convert to Christianity.
“From the beginning, I received a lot of support from my mother,” says Megha. “She accepted Joby at once.” And later, Megha's father also agreed to the marriage.
The wedding took place on November 16, 2008 at the chapel of the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kalamassery, where Joby, who has a MA and a law degree, was employed as a public relations manager. Today, he is working in the legal wing of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.
And, over the years, Megha got a better understanding of Joby's character. “He is a happy person,” says Megha. “Joby is always smiling. He makes his decisions after a lot of thought. If there is a problem, Joby will always say that there is a solution to it. And after thinking carefully, Joby does come up with a good way to solve the issue.”
Joby, who has won 16 international medals, is a former world arm wrestling champion, as well as a gold medallist in events like shot put, javelin, discus, and badminton. When asked about his qualities as an athlete, Megha says, “Joby is focused and disciplined. Once he set a goal, he works hard to achieve it.”
Perhaps his only drawback is that he is a perfectionist. “At home, if a thing is not at a particular place where he has kept it, Joby gets angry,” says Megha.
Interestingly, when the couple steps out in public, even in places like Bangalore, they are immediately recognised. That is because Joby had taken part in Sony TV's Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, where the vibrant sportsman did arm wrestling with Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra as well as director Farah Khan.
“When people meet me, they are amazed to know that when Joby asked to marry me I said yes immediately,” says Megha. “Then they will inquire whether I married out of sympathy. But Joby is a person who does not need any sympathy. He is a champion in sports as well as life.” Incidentally, the couple has a four-year old son, Jyothis.
As for tips for a successful marriage, Megha says, “If you marry a person from a different caste or religion, you have to ensure your spouse will accept and support your religious beliefs. And when you have children, he should agree that they will follow both religions. Otherwise, it will lead to a clash. And in case you face any problems, just pray to God. He is the same for everybody.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)