COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Athira Raj talks about life with the singer and composer Job Kurian
By Shevlin Sebastian
Photos by A. Sanesh
At a studio in Thiruvananthapuram, in August, 2006, rehearsals were taking place, under the guidance of music director, Alphons, for a reality show on a private television channel. After Job Kurian and Athira Raj finished singing, both looked at each other, and said, almost at the same time “You sang well.” Athira had sung 'Beri Piya' from the Hindi film, 'Devdas', while Job had sung 'Teri Deewani' from a Kailash Kher album.
“Everybody loved Job's version,” says Athira. During the break, an effervescent Athira went around talking with the other participants. But the one who remained aloof was Job.
“I thought he had a bit of an ego,” says Athira. “But when I spoke to Job, later, he told me that he had a sore throat and could not speak. Soon, we had long conversations and liked each other.” At that time, Athira was 17, while Job was 24.
Eventually, Athira was eliminated through audience voting. She returned home to Kannur. But they remained in touch, as Job went on to become the first runner-up. Slowly, they became close.
One day, Job called Athira up and said, “I am not an easy person to live with. But, nevertheless, I would like to marry you.”
Athira reminded Job that they belonged to different communities. While Athira is a Hindu, Job is a Christian. “Despite this, Job told me to think over the proposal,” says Athira.
She thought hard and wanted to say yes. But when she told her parents, they were opposed to the idea. “They felt that I was too young and might change my mind later on,” says Athira. “Plus, they were not keen on an inter-caste marriage.”
So life went on. While Athira finished her Bachelor of Business Management degree from CMS College, Coimbatore, Job was studying piano with a tutor at Thrissur. But, every three months or so, they would meet, either at Shoranur or Thrissur. Later, Athira completed her Masters in Human Resource Management at the Rajagiri Centre for Business Studies, at Kochi.
Thereafter, she again told her parents that she wanted to marry Job. And this time they agreed. “They realised that my love for Job was genuine and long-lasting,” says Athira.
The marriage took place, on November 10, 2012, at the St. Joseph's church at Thiruvananthapuram. At the reception that followed, at the Sree Moolam Club, an impromptu music concert, with eminent musicians, like Stephen Devassey, Rex Vijayan and others took place. “We sang a duet -- 'Vaikkathashtami', written by Sreekumaran Thampi,” says Athira. “It was a memorable moment.” One week later, they had a reception at Kannur, also.
Soon, after this, the couple left for Chennai. Job was singing the title song of the Malayalam film, 'I love me', by music director Deepak Dev. “We had a good time in Chennai,” says Athira, who now stays with Job at Thiruvananthapuram.
Asked about his plus points, Athira says, “Job is very genuine. If there is a show or he has to do a composition, his commitment is hundred per cent. Even if he has to perform for a college show, he will give his best at all times. He always works hard. Unlike many musicians, he avoids drinking and smoking and remains focused on his music.”
Athira also likes his selflessness. “Job is keen to help others and maintain good relationships with his relatives and family members,” she says. “He is a lovable person. Whenever he goes to Thrissur, he goes and meets his teachers.”
And Athira does not have a problem that, for Job, the music comes before her and the family. “Because I am a singer myself, I understand his dreams and desires,” says Athira. “This is probably why we get along so well with each other.”
However, like most creative people, Job has a short temper. “There is no way to predict when he will lose his temper,” says Athira, with a smile. “It might be about the smallest of things. But he cools down very quickly. But all artistes are like that. They are very emotional and sensitive and have mood fluctuations.”
Another drawback is Job’s tense nature. “This becomes extreme just before he steps on stage before a show,” says Athira. “Sometimes I am scared about whether he will be able to perform at all. But, once on stage, his personality changes completely. He has a commanding presence and sings in a powerful voice. By the grace of God, all his shows have done well.”
The couple's happiest moment occurred when their son, Cyril, was born on April 25, 2014, at the Fatima Hospital in Kannur. “I will always remember the joy on Job’s face when he held Cyril in his arms for the first time,” says Athira. “Job is extremely close to his son. If he does not see Cyril for two days, he will start missing him very much. He wants to come back home quickly.”
As for tips for a successful marriage, Athira says, “If a spouse has a weakness, instead of trying to change it, we should accept it. Both husband and wife should learn to adjust. Think positively all the time. If the husband is down, the wife should lift his spirits up with her optimistic attitude.”
(Published in The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)