I was barely out of college when I lost my father and soon afterwards, my mother. My sister had been married by then and lived close by.
I got into the habit of spending time with her, helping her in the house and later with her child. It took my mind off my troubles.
Ashok (name changed) was my brother- in- law’s friend. He would visit my sister’s house often. He was an only child to his widowed mother and often spoke of his mother with love, fear and awe.
His mother was a school head-mistress and a strict and imposing woman. She was very tall and had aristocratic looks and a voice that could stop any student who was getting into some mischief, right in their tracks.
The more I heard about his mother, the more I began to fear her, even without having met her. But I realized that I was falling slowly in love with Ashok and he seemed to be reciprocating.
But we did not exchange a single word on the subject of marriage. Those were innocent times!
November 4th was Ashok’s birthday. My sister, brother-in-law and I were waiting for him to visit us, as we were eager to wish him in person.My sister’s husband told me, “why don’t you wear a better saree. We might go out for lunch or something.”
He made me change into a silk saree.
When Ashok came, he seemed to be in a hurry. He told us to get into his car and as I wondered what the tamasha was all about, he drove very quickly to a government building a few kilometers away.
It was a Marriage Registrar’s office.
I got out in a daze and a group of men gathered there, clapped loudly welcoming us.
My sister pulled me along to a room, quite a dingy little room, mind you. The man officiating the wedding, made us sign a few papers and the men who had clapped for us, witnessed our signature. They were apparently Ashok’s colleagues.
And we were married!
It took me a good few minutes to realize what had just happened. I trusted my sister implicitly.
Ashok left with his colleagues to his office and I came back to my sister’s house, a married woman without a husband. There was no “melam-thalam or aarathi” to welcome this newly wed bride.
My sister filled in all the details of how they had carried off this event, which she had kept a secret all along.
Ashok’s mother was very much against his marrying me. She had selected a bride for him from among her relatives. The idea that her only son was going against her wishes was abominable. Mother and son had been arguing on this subject for many months, both refusing to relent. Then Ashok had come up with this surprise wedding idea and I had not been told anything about it as I would surely be against duping another woman. I would not have agreed to this run away marriage at all.
A few days earlier my sister’s husband had taken my college certificates on the pretext of getting me a job but they had actually been submitted at the marriage registrar office as proof of my age and that I was not a minor child.
I continued to stay in my sister’s house and Ashok visited us as usual and gentleman that he was, he in no way took advantage of our married status.
He wanted his mother to accept this marriage first.
He told me that he had collected our marriage certificates and had shown it to his mother. All hell had broken loose and his mother was consulting many of her acquaintances as to what to do to annul the marriage.
There was nothing she could, but to accept me as her son’s lawfully wedded wife.
Being the proud woman that she was, she never acknowledged the government wedding and completely turned a blind eye to it. She began to make preparations for us to get married according to religious rites.
It was on December 28th, I was married again, this time in a religious place of worship with many relatives and friends from both our sides blessing us.
My mother in law hated me, all her life.
But my husband’s love more than made up for it. Every year on his birthday, he would take out the Government Marriage Certificate and read it out proudly to our children and address me lovingly as:
“My Twice Married Wife!”
Story by S. Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo
All photo credits: pixabay