Mahendran and Deepa were admitted at mental health facility for treatment, after which became lovers and finally decided to tie the knot. It may sound like a fairy tale with a happy ending but it is a fact that has caught people by surprise in Chennai in south India.
When P Mahendran and Deepa were admitted to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) they were strangers. But that was some two years back. Over time, they developed a bond and decided to marry, creating a record of sorts for the 225-year-old mental hospital, one of the oldest and largest in Asia.
They chose an auspicious day (Friday, October 28) to tie the nuptial knot at a temple. Mahendran was suffering from depression arising out of a nasty property dispute, while Deepa’s world came crashing down when she lost her father in 2016 and spent her life as if in the wilderness.
They landed up separately at the IMH for treatment but did not remember the date. Like several others, they have nowhere to go even after their treatment is over now, perhaps fearing social stigma.
Mahendran has a job at a daycare centre on the IMH campus, helping those who feel lonely with no one to take care of them during the daytime. On the other hand, Deepa works at a community cafe launched by IMH along with a restaurateur to give gainful employment to people, especially those with mental illness.
“Meeting and getting to know her was like reviving many things for me… She is like my mother, my aunt, my sister, my best friend, everything now…,” he said to the 'Indian Express'.
The IMH was founded by the East India Company in 1794 as an asylum to treat Europeans with mental illnesses. At present, it has 723 inmates, including 246 women.