It was a terrible mistake, and it was my idea. Eloping was the last thing on my mind when I set out to go shopping with Makuka on that fateful December day. It was Christmastime, schools and colleges were closed, and people flocked to the market. Laughing friends, sulking children, harassed mothers, siblings, lovers, everyone had come to buy something for Christmas. There was an air of festivity all around, and everyone seemed so happy and content. I was suddenly overcome by a sense of emptiness, a feeling of aloneness. It was then that the idea of eloping formed in my head.
Makuka and I had discussed marriage before, but never finished a conversation. It was as if there was something blocking us, preventing us from being together; something unknown, unseen, unspoken. After two years of us seeing each other my family still wasn’t convinced, ticking him off as someone I would soon get bored of, a mad phase in my life. They were still waiting for me to find a ‘real’ man. On that cold winter day as I looked at the people around me I felt like I was the only one who would be alone that night. I could not bear the thought of going home and eating a silent dinner with my father and then sleeping alone in my cold empty bed.
I called up one of my colleagues who had recently moved into a new house with her husband. They didn't have children, and their house was in an isolated part of town, so it seemed like the perfect place to go. She really didn’t want to be a part of the plan but I persuaded until she said yes. Makuka too was not very enthusiastic, said it wasn’t proper behaviour for two sensible adults. But I was adamant, saying it was now or never. So we spent the first night of our elopement on the living room floor of a colleague who wasn’t even a good friend.
Eloping was supposed to be fun, and romantic, but what we did was far from fun and romantic. There was nothing grand or wonderful about it; it was cold and we were so worried that we barely slept. I called Kimteii and told her to inform my father, and Makuka called his parents and told them we would be returning the next day. I spent the whole night waiting for one of my uncles to burst in through the door and yank me home, but no one came. I waited for my father to call me, but there was not a word from him. I was edgy, nervous, cold and uncomfortable. It was nothing like I had expected or imagined, but even then I didn’t want to change my mind and go home. I still believed everything would be fine when morning comes.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and went home to Makuka’s house. His parents were still asleep and we had to wake them up. They were very nice to me and made me feel very welcome, but it was a very embarrassing moment. I had met them before, but suddenly turning up at their doorstep as their new daughter-in-law was a completely new experience for me as well as for them, something for which I was totally unprepared. I still wore my clothes from the previous day, my hair was unkempt, and with no makeup on I was far from the beautiful bride they would have envisioned for their youngest son.
And so I was married. Even though we didn’t have the wedding ceremony yet we were considered to be husband and wife, as is the Mizo custom. My father wanted me to come home, but Makuka’s parents said there was no need for that, I was their new daughter now and would live with them and one fine day when the date was fixed Makuka and I would get married in church. My father reluctantly agreed.
They say you never truly know a person until you have lived with him or her. How true that was! Makuka was like a small boy at home. He stayed up late, woke up late, and was often late for work - by then he had got a job at one of the private middle schools. He lived like a dirty schoolboy, and I spent one whole weekend cleaning out his room. Because of our sudden elopement there was no time for his parents to make a new room for us, so we slept in his small bedroom which was full of rock posters and dirty clothes and shoes. I threw out all his old clothes, took down all the posters, and rearranged the furniture to make some space. A few weeks later the wall between his room and his brother’s old room was taken down and we then had a new big room.
I tried to be the perfect wife, the perfect daughter-in-law, and was determined to make our marriage a success. My father had generously given me quite a large sum of money which was lying in my bank account. I spent most of that money buying new furniture for our room, and new clothes for Makuka and for his parents. I knew it would have looked odd, the new daughter-in-law buying new stuff with her money, but I consulted my in-laws and they were okay with it and we needed the new stuff.
I didn’t see the signs. I thought our marriage was, well, if not perfect at least satisfactory. Makuka stopped going out at nights and his parents were happy, I was happy because I was with the man I loved, and even though we were not yet legally married it seemed so like the real thing. We spent each night at home; I watching TV with my in-laws, Makuka shut up in our room, playing computer games or interacting with his online “friends”. I considered it harmless, he was at home, and he went to bed every night with me. I didn’t even imagine that he would leave me for a college girl he met on the Internet. Sometimes he would stay up very late, and I’d drift off to sleep without waiting for him because I thought he was playing online games and it would take forever to end. Only that I didn’t know the kind of games he played behind my back, literally. And on the days when he came home very late from work and said he was held back at school giving tuition to the kids I had no reason to doubt him. I knew about the pressure teachers put on children in order to gain a good reputation for the school, and I was secretly proud of him for being so committed to his work. If only I knew that he was committing himself to a girl who was almost half my age!
So dear reader, you can imagine my shock when after fourteen months of living together as husband and wife Makuka told me to pack my bags and return to my father’s house because he was in love with someone else. He said I was too much for him, too controlling, suffocating and too clingy. Words that I once used to describe him. He said I forced him to get married before he was ready, and that he didn’t like the way I tried to take over his life and tried to change him. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I promised I would change and do whatever he wanted, but he wouldn’t change his mind. I didn’t even ask about the other girl; I didn’t want to hurt myself more with the details. His parents too wanted me to stay, but what could I do when my “husband” himself had told me to get out?
And so I returned to my father’s house; rejected, brokenhearted, disgraced, and pregnant.
(to be continued…)