Why? because their brother stole another man’s wife. It’s like living in the stone age!! In some places, women live worse loves than homeless dogs. Women are stoned or disfigured with acid for their own crimes. Women are raped and married off for the men’s crimes*. In some places, whatever a woman does, she can’t catch a break!
God, I wish I could unread that because that was annoying to read!!
moving on to nicer topics:
My maternal grandmother, Lia, eloped with her secret boyfriend, Reuben. They went to his parents’ house, had dinner, slept in his little hut, woke up the next morning and announced they were married. And then they left for the city together. That’s it! no bridezilla moments, no caterers, no banks robbed and loans acquired. Just declare yourself married and it becomes a fact.
2 years later, they married the traditional way, parents and relatives meeting. Dowry agreed upon. I know what you are thinking! Yes I do. You are thinking, “dowry?? Women are not for sale!” And you are annoyed. I am with you. only I challenge you to keep your hat on and remember that this was in 1920, and we are not here to unwrite history. Atleast am not. We are here to influence & drastically change the present & the future.
Anyways, over 50 years later, Lia & Reuben got legally married, not in church, just at the registrar’s. To make sure they got the papers they needed to own property together. Colonialism was over but papers were still an important factor if you wanted to “own” anything. Even a wife.
In my childhood, I heard lots of talk on how many choices, potential husbands, Lia had and how she chose the worst of them. Lia was apparently a beauty. There are no pictures of my grandmother in her youth so I cannot have an opinion on that. I can imagine she was pretty, headstrong and she definitely had one of the most wonderful laughs I have ever heard. She was 16 years old when they eloped. Reuben was 17.
According to myth, Reuben was the poorest, quietest and most adventurous of the choices Lia had. He was restless, the opposite of stable. So Lia and Reuben moved from the countryside to the city, and then to the coast and then to the west of Kenya. After almost 10 years and parents to 3 children, they went back to the countryside to build a house (not a home). This was done purely to please relatives. And they were back to moving around. Both of them worked all their lives.
I call it myth because Lia in her old age was adamant that she never had choices. My sister and I asked her why she chose Reuben and not anyone else of her many suitors. She answered that Reuben was the only choice she had and she took it. But she also noted that her family had several guys lined up as choices. Only problem? she does not remember who they were really, she never looked at them. Her brain and heart were preoccupied with the plans to elope. There was no space for anything else. It took 2 years to plan a simple elopement.
They eloped because Reuben the vagabond could not afford to marry her the right way. He and his family had nothing to offer. And they could not wait for him to amass wealth, because wealth would never happen to Reuben. Thank God.
In some places, Lia would have been stoned to death or burned with acid. or raped? And Reuben would be challenged to find another girl, of good morals (read virgin). Because the whole would be blamed on Lias morals, the lack of them.
Men are often expected to lack morals & forgiven, even celebrated for it. Women live & die to uphold their own morals & cover for men’s lack of the same. In many places still.
*Pity is, in some places, love easily escalates into a crime that could kill several women and ruin several lives. Sigh