Johnny and Neera Govindasamy sold their lounge suite to buy Johnny’s glasses.
Johnny and Neera Govindasamy sold their lounge suite to buy Johnny’s glasses.

Community helps couple who were forced to sell their lounge suite for a pair of prescription spectacles

By Chanelle Lutchman Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

Share this article:

Durban - Just over seven years ago, Neera Govindsamy, 54, of Phoenix, lost her sight. All she can see now is some light and shadows. Since then, her husband Johnny has been her eyes.

So when Johnny’s eyes started to deteriorate, Neera was worried. The pair of prescription glasses he needed cost R1 600, but on his caretaker’s salary it was not something they could afford.

The couple decided to sell the only item of value they had – an old lounge suite – and so managed to buy the glasses.

The couple have been married for more than 25 years and live in a room at Rydalvale Primary School in Phoenix, where Johnny works as a caretaker. They met in the 1990s.

"We attended the same church and, when I saw her, I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I turned to my friend and told him I would marry her. He laughed and told me she was tough, but, six years later, she was mine," said Johnny.

Johnny said he did not attend church as regularly as Neera did, but whenever he did attend, he made a point of chatting to her and her family.

"I remember once I lost a photograph of myself at church. It fell out of my pocket and, when I asked, no one had seen it. A few months later, Neera showed me the picture and told me that since she had found it on the floor, it was hers. Even today, she refuses to give it back to me.”

Shortly after getting married, several challenges beset them.

"Those were the hardest days of our lives. We had family around that we could turn to for help financially, but I could not burden others with my problems. So, we prayed to God to see us through.

“Once Neera was hungry and we had nothing but plain bread and onions. I fried the onions and sandwiched it with the bread for her to eat. Another time she felt like eating mushrooms, I woke up early and prayed to God that I find mushrooms. A little later I went for a walk and found mushrooms. I picked so many that we ate mushrooms for a week. God really helped us.”

Twelve years ago, Johnny was seeking work when he heard that the school was looking for a caretaker. He applied and was successful. The job came with a room that he could live in.

A few years later, Neera, a diabetic, started to lose vision in both eyes. She underwent laser surgery at a state hospital in 2013, but despite it all she has is about five percent vision in her right eye.

“I can see light and shadows. That’s all," said Neera. “Johnny is my eyesight.”

She realised his eyesight was deteriorating when he struggled to read the numbers on the machine that tests her blood sugar levels.

Johnny went to a shop and bought reading glasses, but it did not help for long. Eventually, he went to an optometrist.

“I was told my eyes were so bad that I needed tested glasses. These cost R1 600, but I knew I could not afford it. I told Neera not to stress, but she insisted we sell our lounge suite. It was given to us by family, but she said it was a material thing and my health meant more.”

The couple sold the lounge suite for R1 600 and bought the glasses.

A few days later, Lance Nayager and his partner, Nirvana Salikram from Megazone Bollywood, visited the couple. Nayager had met the couple last year after hosting a programme on eye awareness.

Neera had listened to the programme and had asked Johnny to send a message that she had enjoyed the show.

Said Nayager: "Nirvana and I started visiting them to drop off hampers. On Saturday, after I got paid, we went to their home with some groceries. Neera told us she could not offer us a comfortable seat because she had sold the lounge suite to buy Johnny glasses. She offered us two school chairs to sit on.”

Moved by the couple’s plight, Nayager appealed to listeners to assist. Within two days they had bought the couple a three-seat couch and given them some cash.

Said Neera: "When Lance told us what they had done for us, we felt blessed to have them in our lives. We have been married for 25 years, but we do not have children of our own. Lance and Nirvana are the kids we never had. It feels so good that at our age someone wants to look after us, or help us however they can. It also restores our faith that there are good people out there. Thank you.”

The Post

Share this article: