Sreelatha met singer Biju Narayanan during her pre-degree class at Maharaja’s College, Kochi. “We had feelings for each other in the first year itself,” says Sreelatha. “But we were too young to understand what we felt. But once we reached the degree class, things began to get serious.” At that time, her most memorable moment was on a Valentine’s Day, when Biju presented her with a card on which he had inscribed, ‘To My Wife’.
Biju impressed her on another occasion. One day, a classmate, Asha told Biju that there was a beautiful, fair, and slim girl in the science group, who was also a singer. Asha said, “This girl will be a good match for you.” But Biju replied, “I would like to get friendly only if I want to get married. I am not interested in a romance.” Says Sreelatha: “Biju’s reply made me very happy. I realised he was not the flirty type.”
In the final year, Biju proposed marriage. But they were both only twenty years old. “How would we live?” says Sreelatha. “We had no income.” So, she decided to do her law degree and secured admission in the Law College at Thiruvananthapuram.
One day, she left for the state capital, accompanied by her father, Narayanan Nair. During the journey he gave her a Malayalam magazine in which there was an article on upcoming singers. “There was a photo and an article about Biju,” she says. “Since my father knew that Biju was a classmate, he had given me the magazine. I read through it with joy but I also felt guilty because my parents did not know that I was in love with Biju.”
Following the law degree, both Biju and Sreelatha enrolled for their MA in Maharaja’s College. And it was only on January 23, 1998, a full ten years after they first met, that they got married. During those years, Biju established himself as a devotional and playback singer.
For Sreelatha, what she likes about her husband is his straight-forwardness. “He will not talk ill of anybody behind their back,” she says. “Biju is a loving and loyal person, although he does not express it. He has the same friends that he had in college.”
Since Biju is on tours often, Sreelatha has to handle the day-to-day running of the household and to look after their children, Sidharth, 13, and Suryanarayan, 8, both of whom study at Bhavan’s Kendriya Vidyalaya school in Giri Nagar. “The children and I are used to his absences,” says Sreelatha. “But they look forward to his return because he always brings them gifts.”
As a father Biju is close to his sons. “But there are times when he gets distracted and goes into a different world of his own,” says Sreelatha. “I don’t know what he is thinking.”
For Sreelatha, the one drawback of Biju is that he can lose his temper. “It can be over the most trivial of matters,” she says. “It cannot be predicted. I do get hurt at times. But I know this happens because he is a sensitive person.”
Sreelatha is also sensitive when it comes to being in the spotlight. “I am a private person,” she says. “There are people who enjoy being known. That is not the case with me. I don’t like to go for public functions. This hesitation puts Biju into a problem. Because he has to go alone, while the others are accompanied by their wives.”
On the rare occasions that she goes to witness a concert by her husband, she feels nervous. “Biju is also like that,” she says. “On the day of a performance, he is tense from the morning. He hardly eats anything, but once the show begins, after two or three songs, he begins to relax. That is the time I enjoy his singing.”
Her favourite is the first film song Biju had sung: ‘Pathu Veluppinu’ from ‘Venkalam’. “Thanks to that, his career took off,” she says. “So, naturally, I like that song the most.”
Asked about advice she would give to youngsters who are about to get married, Sreelatha says, “Marriage is all about adjustments. If both are adamant, it will not work. Earlier, people would say the wife should be accommodating. But nowadays, when husband and wife are working, there should be compromises from both sides.”
She says that there should be a sense of sharing and affection between the spouses. “We should also love our in-laws in the same way we love our own parents,” says Sreelatha. “The children are watching how you treat your elders. Then they will treat you in the same way.”