“I had just returned home in the evening after hoeing the corn field all day. ‘Parents have given you away!’ screamed my younger brother. Apparently, a family from Khorsane gaun (village) in Chirang district in Bhutan had visited my house earlier to ask my hand for marriage. An astrologer had come along with them. The astrologer checked our horoscope compatibility, and he immediately slated the wedding date for two weeks later. That’s how jodis (matches) were made back then. I was just 14 years old. Two of my slightly older friends were wedded a few months ago. I had a suspicion that I could be next in line. But I did not think it would be that soon. I was shocked. The thought of leaving my family scared me. My legs were trembling. There was no talk of my wedding prior to this. It was so sudden. No one discussed it with me. But then, in those times, no girls were asked about such things. Even my parents did not say a word that evening. My younger siblings shared what had happened. My parents only spoke to me about it after a few days. They told me it was time for me to get married. I couldn’t say no. Had I ever met the groom before? Never. I had not heard of him or his family. Our first meeting was on the wedding day. That day, we did not speak a single word, perhaps due to shyness. He was the son of a Mandal (head of the village), so the wedding procession was quite extravagant. The customary practice of putting wedding rings was new at that time. Most other rituals back then, though, were similar to the ones we perform even today. My husband’s family wanted to take me to their house permanently after 16 days of our wedding. However, my father was adamant to send me only after a year — I am not sure why my father did that. Perhaps he thought I was too young to be able to handle all household chores in the house of a mahaajan (wealthy). So I moved to my husband’s house only after a year. We went through a lot of hardship but we’ve been together for 50 years now.”
Bishnu Khadka, 65 is originally from Chirang, Bhutan and based in West Springfield, Massachusetts at the time when this story was compiled.
Story and Photo compilation by Biraj Adhikari for BNS.