“My legs were shivering, my lips quivering. I knew I was going to be touched, to be fondled this way, for the first time in my life. It was raining heavily outside. I knew I was going to feel a man’s breath on my naked shoulder, his arms wrapped around my waist. I had heard it was going to hurt a little, but every girl should be prepared for it. And so was I. Prepared to devote myself; my body to him. Prepared to consummate my marriage; prepared to sleep with my father.”
Anseela is not the only one who was forced to share her father with her mother. Many tribal communities in Bangladesh still follow this tradition. Young girls are forced to marry the man and share their father as their husbands too. The Mandi (Garo) community from south eastern part of Bangladesh follows this suffocating practice to serve double purpose.
After the men of the family pass away and women are left to complete the chores all by themselves, they are remarried. Now, you’d think that widow remarriage is a good thing, but certainly not in this case. Widows are remarried to men who are much younger, sometimes even half their age. After this the men are also asked to marry the daughters of the house. So the young girls, who dream of a fairytale wedding, end up marrying the men they call ‘father’.
Cherra is another man from the same community who is torn apart between two ladies. At the age of 18 he was married to a young girl who was 15 years old and the same time he exchanged vows with the girl’s mother who was 36. While the girl’s mother (who is now his wife) cares for him unconditionally, his younger wife loves him beyond any measures. However theirs is not a happy family. Every night, post dinner, he wonders whom should he share the bed with. The fights between the two wives only kept increasing as days passed. So much so that one day the younger wife tried setting herself on fire. The older wife gave up since then and lets Cherra be with the younger one. But Cherra can see and feel that the older one still yearns for him. At this age, she also wants to feel that someone is there for her, but unfortunately, they both can’t do anything about it.
This gross ritual not only hampers a husband-wife relationship but also breaks the mother-daughter relationship. The mother and daughter lay out traps to make the men come to sleep with them every night. This involves cooking their favourite food, helping them in their daily chores to being inventive in bed. Women of these tribes come up with new ways to keep their husband away from the other partner. For husbands too this becomes a grave situation where every night they are bound to choose one.