COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Daisy Luke talks about life with the actor Prem Prakash
By Shevlin Sebastian
Photos by Rajeev Prasad
The first time Daisy Luke saw the actor Prem Prakash was on a stage at the CMS College in Kottayam in 1967. He was singing a Hindi song. “Prem had a beautiful voice,” says Daisy. “At that time, he was one of the most popular singers in the college.”
Prem and Daisy began interacting with each other, because they were members of the Catholic Students Union. “Later, there were musical evenings,” says Daisy. “Prem would tell me about them. So I would go to listen. Sometimes, I would suggest one or two songs which I liked. And he would sing them.”
Since Prem was four years older, soon, he passed out and joined his father's tea business. But one day, in February, 1968, Daisy received a letter at home. It was from Prem.
“He said he wanted to marry me,” says Daisy. “I liked him but was not ready to say yes. One reason was because I was not keeping well. I had rheumatic fever and had problems with my heart. A valve was not functioning properly. I was not sure what to do.”
Later, Prem's elder brother, the noted actor, Jose Prakash, came to the house with a formal proposal. “My parents were worried about my health,” says Daisy. “My father said that a doctor must certify that I am okay. Only then would he give the consent for the marriage.”
So Prem, Daisy and her older cousin Mathew went to meet the noted Dr. Sebastian Zacharias in Ernakulam. Several tests were done. After examining the results, Dr. Sebastian pronounced that Daisy was physically fit. “It was only then that we decided to go ahead with the marriage,” says Daisy.
It took place on December 30, 1968, at the Lourdes church in Kottayam. But Daisy was feeling nervous. In the early morning, she cut her forefinger while slicing a vegetable. So, she put a small plaster on it. However, in the church, while she was holding a flower bouquet, some part of it pressed against the plaster. Daisy started bleeding again. “Nobody knew about it, but I felt a slight pain throughout the mass,” she says. It seems to be an early indication of the pain and joy that characterises all marriages.
For their honeymoon, the couple went to Kanyakumari. They went for long walks on the beach and enjoyed the full-moon nights. One evening they sat on the beach and Prem started singing. Soon, a crowd gathered. “Everybody enjoyed Prem’s singing,” says Daisy
It was at the beach that Prem made a solemn promise. “My husband said that every year from now on, we would be celebrating our anniversary at Kanyakumari,” says Daisy. “However, I have not seen Kanyakumari ever since.”
Asked about her husband's plus points, Daisy says, “Prem is a loving person. In fact, he loved his parents more than me. The first day, after our marriage, he told me that I should also love them unreservedly. So, I treated them like my own parents.”
Daisy loves Prem unreservedly, too, and enjoys his sense of humour. “Whenever there is a family gathering, everybody wants him to be present, because he brings it alive with his witticisms,” she says.
As for his negative traits, Prem tends to get tense over the smallest of matters. “On the other hand, I remain cool,” says Daisy, who had been an English literature teacher at the BCM College for Women at Kottayam for three decades.
The couple have three children: Bobby, Sanjay and Thangam. While Bobby and Sanjay are a successful Mollywood scriptwriting team, daughter Thangam is a Singapore-based homemaker.
As a father, Prem is a soft parent. “He has never shouted at the children, nor used the stick,” says Daisy. “I also did not use the stick because Prem would not allow me. But they have all turned out well. We are proud of them.”
Daisy is also proud of Prem's acting in the recently-released film, 'Nirnayakam'. “Prem has an important role,” says Daisy. “The mature artiste in him has come out. He has acted well.”
But, interestingly, for both husband and wife, their most memorable moment had nothing to do with films. It was the birth of their first grandchild, Anjali, on March 19, 2005, at the Matha Hospital, Thellakom, Kottayam.
“Many friends had told me that being a grandparent is the best experience, but I never really understood what they meant, till I held my own grandchild,” says Daisy. “It was a thrilling moment. I believe the reason is because we are there to witness the continuation of the family.” Incidentally, the Prakashes have six grandchildren.
Finally, when asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Daisy says, “In a marriage, you must think more about the partnership than about yourself. That will help you to adjust. There is no love in marriage. Love is in the people. And people have to put it into the marriage. Lastly, spouses should respect each other and their families.”
(Published in The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)