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Amar’s mother has 3 husbands. He’s 15 years old now. Up to a certain point, he didn’t question anything about his family. They all lived together: Amar, his grandma, his mom, his brothers and sisters, and his three fathers. Nobody gave it a second thought as everyone Amar knew had similarly large families. Grandma preferred to spend her time raising the children, and Mom had to toil at the kitchen to feed the big family. The children played in the yard and hung out with other kids sometimes. Of course they also helped at home: they weeded the garden, cleaned the house, and took care of their younger siblings. When the fathers came home in the evening, the kids met them at the gate. It felt like a celebration every time they gathered at the table and listened to the adults talking about their day, discussing important matters, and planning errands for the next day.
Actually happened as Amar got older, he realized his family was very different from many of his classmates. They only had one father and his parents lived separately. Amar got curious and he asked Mom: “Why does our family have many children and multiple fathers?” Mom avoided the question for a long time. But one day, after receiving a letter from her family, she felt sad and delved into the memories of her youth.
She was born in a family with just one father. She was the first child of two. Her dream was to become a journalist and she successfully enrolled at university. There were students from different countries, including Amar’s father – the oldest of his fathers. He and Amar’s mom met during their sophomore year and fell in love. They couldn’t even spend a day apart. During vacations, they’d call each other and write letters.
When they graduated, he invited her to the far-away country of India. Mom hesitated for a long time but love was stronger than her fears, and she agreed. Her parents objected but if they knew the ways of the groom’s ancestors, they probably wouldn’t let their daughter go at all.
At the airport, the newlyweds were greeted by the groom’s parents and brothers. They were clearly checking Amar’s mom out. She felt embarrassed by their attention. It’s certainly not customary to stare at your brother’s bride like that in other countries. The wedding celebration went amazing, they sang folk songs, and the guests were brightly dressed. That was the night Amar’s mom first wore a colorful sari. Mom loved India because the man she loved was next to her. Of course she mostly wears a sari for festivities and sticks to European clothes normally. Grandma didn’t mind: she liked new daughter-in-law and everything she did.
The bride’s first disappointment happened when a brother of her ostensibly lawful husband came into her bedroom. Mom stormed out of the room indignantly. But to her further indignation, the older brother, who she thought of as her husband, was waiting outside. He quietly put an arm around her and took her back to the bedroom. He promised he’d explain everything tomorrow. That was a hard night for Mom. She started packing her things in the morning.
Grandma saw her packing and crying, and she talked to her. Actually happened she managed to convince Mom that this was just the way things were done in their family. Grandma herself used to have three husbands. The three brothers all joined the conversation and together they persuaded Mom to stay. Her new life certainly felt unfamiliar. Eventually, she got over it and the hardships of childbearing cleared her mind completely. As the brothers matured, they looked a lot like each other and all of them absolutely adored Mom. The children were happy in this wholesome environment.
After Amar talked to Mom, he went to talk to Grandma as well. She explained how this tradition came to be in Southern India. To keep hard-earned assets in the family, all sons collectively married one girl, who bore everyone’s children. The men didn’t mind which baby was whose: they treated all children equally. They all served as fathers and husbands and breadwinners. This is why Amar’s father could afford to study abroad and Amar goes to a good school now. The family is fairly well-off. Grandma also said that if a husband falls out of his wife’s favor then it’s his own fault and his responsibility to win his wife’s love. If he fails, the grandmother has to intervene and ask the wife to be more lenient towards her son.
Now Amar understood why there are different slippers next to his mom’s door every night.
He didn’t dare ask Grandma if he’s to share one wife with all five of his brothers. Time shall tell. Right now, Amar is happily surrounded by his loved ones who care about him. Having three fathers is not that bad!