It's never too late to fall in love again

Madam Mariah Abdul Hamid, 70, and Mr Ismail Sapuan, 62, only met in March but fell in love after several trips accompanying each other to the hospital. ST VIDEO: MELODY ZACCHEUS
Newly-weds Mariah Abdul Hamid, 70, and Ismail Sapuan, 62, posing for photographs with their friends - (from left) Ms Zainab Ismail, 58, Ms Momin Jabar, 66, and Ms Kamaria Hussein, 59 - at the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre in Chai Chee after the cou
Newly-weds Mariah Abdul Hamid, 70, and Ismail Sapuan, 62, posing for photographs with their friends - (from left) Ms Zainab Ismail, 58, Ms Momin Jabar, 66, and Ms Kamaria Hussein, 59 - at the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre in Chai Chee after the couple's solemnisation yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Couple, aged 70 and 62, wed after meeting at Chai Chee seniors centre in March

Eyes twinkling with happiness, blushing bride Mariah Abdul Hamid looked ready to wed in her hot pink outfit after a whirlwind romance.

Her beau, Mr Ismail Sapuan, paced outside the room nervously as a make-up artist brushed on lipstick in Barbie doll pink across the bride's lips and applied shimmering gold eyeshadow on her eyelids.

The nerves got to them even though Ms Mariah, 70, and Mr Ismail, 62, have each been married before - twice in her case, five times in his. The couple, who met only in March at the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre in Chai Chee, fell in love accompanying each other to the hospital over their high blood pressure and diabetes conditions.

They are tenants of one-room rental flats in Chai Chee.

Yesterday, they were married at Masjid Al-Ansar and celebrated with friends from the centre.

Glowing with love, Ms Mariah, a former polyclinic staff member who was widowed 29 years ago, was excited and happy. She said: "When he asked me to get married, I was shocked. I never expected to get married at this age. He's friendly, he laughs... I've never met a man like that."

Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre Chai Chee centre manager Noraidah Haji Akib said staff encouraged them to pursue their romance and to tie the knot so they can take care of each other. "As a centre, we aim to reduce isolation among the elderly," she said.

The number of elderly folk here who live on their own rose from 6,000 in 1990 to 29,000 in 2011 and is set to reach 92,000 by 2030.


Mariah Abdul Hamid (centre-right), 70, and Ismail Sapuan, 62, hold hands as they walk to the Sunlove-Kampong Chai Chee Seniors Activity Centre after their solemnisation. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Mr Ismail, a former ambulance driver, said: "We can take care of each other when we are sick."

Singapore is also one of the world's fastest-ageing societies: By 2030, one in four, or more than 900,000 people, will be 65 and above, double the number now.

The couple's union is also part of a growing trend of more people tying the knot later in life.


Newlyweds Mariah Abdul Hamid (right), 70, and Ismail Sapuan, 62, hold hands as they take pictures with their friends at the Sunlove-Kampong Chai Chee Seniors Activity Centre after their solemnisation. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The 2015 report on marriages and divorces released last July showed there were 99 brides and 442 grooms aged 60 and above who got married that year, compared with 68 brides and 374 grooms in 2014.

Ms Mariah and Mr Ismail's wedding cost more than $1,000 and was sponsored by the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre.

Ms Noraidah said: "Once people heard about the wedding, they stepped forward to help with the make-up, wedding cake and decoration. There's a clear sense of kampung spirit here."


Newly weds Mariah Abdul Hamid (centre), 70, and Ismail Sapuan (right), 62, pictured after their solemnisation at Masjid Al- Ansar. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The newlyweds said they plan to tour Langkawi or Malacca.

Mr Ismail has a daughter, while Ms Mariah has three children.

Ms Mariah's daughter, Ms Rosmawati Jamalik, 40, who is unemployed, said she is glad her mother has found a companion. She said: "They are quite cute together. They can now rely on each other. She's happier now after being alone for so long after my father died of cancer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2017, with the headline 'It's never too late to fall in love again'. Print Edition | Subscribe