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Engels Marries. Marx, Lenin attend

By SUJIT CHANDRA KUMAR
Last updated on: November 24, 2021 10:47 IST
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Though the bride and groom were Roman Catholics, Engels made it clear that it would not be a church wedding for him.
Sujit Chandra Kumar reports.

IMAGE: Engels and Bismitha. Photographs: Courtesy Engels

When Engels got married on November 14, younger brother Lenin was in attendance. So were childhood friends Marx and his younger brother Hochmin.

The simple wedding took place in a hall at Vettilappara, not far from the popular tourist spot Athirappilly in Kerala's Thrissur district.

Though the bride and groom were Roman Catholics, Engels had made it clear that it would not be a church wedding for him.

"The CPI-M area secretary handed over a garland of red flowers to me which I placed around Bismitha's neck. She then put one around mine," says Engels.

The wedding invite itself was in the name of the party's local committee secretary, not his parents.

 

No prizes for guessing how the four friends became namesakes of revolutionary figures.

They belong to families that swear by the Communist philosophy.

It was Marx's dad and the first panchayat president of the area, M D Ouseph, who triggered the trend by naming his eldest son after the German philosopher and revolutionary.

Thomas K O was his neighbour, fellow Marxist and union leader and did not think twice when he became a dad; he named his eldest son after Friedrich Engels, the other socialist icon from Germany who had penned the Communist Manifesto along with Karl Marx.

IMAGE: Engels and Bismitha at their wedding ceremony.

Engels works as a tourism inspector with the Kerala State Electricity Board while Marx runs a business in Saudi Arabia.

He timed his annual vacation in such a way that he could attend Engels's wedding ceremony.

Did Engels's insistence on a non-religious ceremony go down well with the bride's folks? "They were okay with it. Bismitha has described herself as sakhavinte priya sakhi (comrade's sweetheart) on her Instagram page," he says, with a laugh.

Engels, who is a member of the CPI-M's local committee in Athirappilly, is proud of the name his father had given him.

"I haven't come across anyone else with the same name as me. When I was growing up, my dad used to have Malayalam translations of pamphlets written by Engels and Marx at home. I read them and became an active member of the SFI (Student Federation of India, the CPI-M's youth wing)," he says.

His brother Lenin too is oriented towards Leftist ideology though not so involved in politics.

Did the brothers ever suffer taunts from friends or teachers on account of their unusual names? "There might have been the odd remark, but it never posed any problems," says Engels.

Hochmin agrees with Engels that while it never created much discomfiture, it often gave rise to curiosity among people.

"Unlike Marx or Lenin, Hochmin did not ring a bell with classmates or neighbours as the Vietnamese leader was not as famous as the other two. But yes, they found it a little different," he says.

"For a while, I worked with a five-star hotel in Mumbai as a driver. They had a manager from Poland who had a Vietnamese wife. He was amused by my name and was really fond of me," he reminisces.

Hochmin has displayed his name and phone number inside his cab and he says those who are Communists or fellow travellers usually feel pleased to strike up a conversation with him during their trips with him.

IMAGE: Bismitha and Engels's marriage invitation card.

Hochmin's father Ouseph had migrated to the Athirappilly area from Karukutti along with his father and other family members way back in the 1950s.

"In those days, it used to be a forest area, but the government felled the trees to pave way for development. My dad got attracted to Communist ideals and emerged as a leader of the plantation workers," recalls Hochmin.

The late Ouseph had four daughters before getting a son and he could not think of a better name for him than Marx, his idol.

"I was told by one of my dad's friends that they took an informal decision to name their children after Marxist leaders in those days. There was another Lenin in this area besides Engels's brother, but he passed away."

Hochmin's father only studied till the fourth standard but he had a collection of works by Marx, Engels and Hochmin and was a voracious reader till the end of his life.

"But we were backward financially and that was why Marx had to go to the Gulf to earn a living. We still live by Communist ideals. I am now a branch secretary in this region," Hochmin says with pride.

What about Marx? "Well, he could not work much with the party since he has been abroad, but he is a 'cyber porali (warrior)," quips Hochmin.

Neither Hochmin nor Marx have opted for 'revolutionary' names for their children.

Is Engels likely to continue the tradition? "I don't think so. I wouldn't give any such name for my son or daughter because I feel they should become famous because of what they do in life, not because they share their names with someone famous."

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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