This is the latest part of the story with the following installments:
Part 2 - The Suicide and the Accident
A side story - The Elephants of India
We spent our first honeymoon night in a room at the home-stay of Madhu and Sandhya. Had I know about the abduction of my brother-in-law I would not have brought Shyni there. Years later when I questioned Shyni about it, “Why didn’t you talk me into staying somewhere else? Why didn’t you tell me Sandhya participated in kidnapping Shyam?”
She replied, “There was no other place we could have stayed. Everyone in Kumily was jealous of me. If I would have tried to take you somewhere else you would have wanted to know why. I did not want you to know about the kidnapping so soon and you trusted Sandhya. I wanted you to trust me before I began telling you how horrible these people can be. You needed to experience it for yourself first.”
I was still quite naïve about people, much more than I thought at the time. But as the story will eventually show, I did learn a lesson in life that I really needed to learn. Shyni was right to wait and let me discover this truth for myself. It did teach me to trust her more too.
Shyni was quite ill on the evening of our wedding day. She came down with a high fever. I attributed it to her not sleeping much the night before and all of the stress of the wedding. I went to the nearby restaurant owned by our Egyptian and British friends and shared a bottle of wine with them while I waited for my takeaway order to be prepared. Shyni does not drink, never has and insists that she never will, so she was happy I had someone else to celebrate with.
Due to her illness we did not consummate our marriage that evening either. Shyni remained shy about nudity and she objected when I undressed in the bedroom rather than the privacy of bathroom. I just figured it was time for her to get used to a new style of living and a new culture. I did not want to set the tone of our marriage as one of being prudish.
I hired a car and driver to take us to Munnar the next day. It was a beautiful four hour drive through the Western Ghats Mountains. These mountains rise quickly, with deep narrow valleys and another steep rise only one to two kilometers away. They contain plenty of water falls, rivers and lakes and are quite lush and green.
The journey was spectacular and magical…especially with my beautiful bride at my side. We were finally free. We sat close, held hands, looked into each other’s eyes and kissed often. This was something we could not do since the time we met, except when we were in the privacy of our bed room. And even then Shyni was holding back and reserving her affection until after the temple wedding. But now she was much more open and free with me and I was loving it!
At one point in our long drive I said to Shyni, “It’s too bad we can’t take Eju to America with us.” Eju is Shyni’s nine year old nephew, the son of her sister. He is adorable and has an energy that is very similar to ours. I love children and Eju is very easy to love because
he is so affectionate and well behaved. Shyni replied, “Do you mean that? Do you really want to take Eju to the USA?” I said, “Yes, I can see how much he loves you and how much he will miss you when I take you away.”
Shyni then proceeded to tell me how she had adopted Eju as her own son at six months of age. “I first found out about Eju when he was four months old. I came home from nursing school after my first year exams were complete. My family had not even told me that Jessie was pregnant. There was so much shame because Gopal did not want to marry her. For two months they all argued about how much dowry money Gopal’s family would accept for the marriage to take place. My father was too poor and did not have any money to offer. All that he could promise was a one third share in our family home and land. This was not enough for Gopal or his family to accept. Poor Jessie, she loved Gopal and did not want to lose him and she was facing the reality of how people in our culture would treat her as an unwed mother. Neither Jessie nor Gopal was mature enough to be parents, they were like children themselves.
“Then one night Jessie called me to come and help her. I had to ride three hours by bus to get to her house. A lot of Gopal’s family was there, a few of the men were drunk. They were all fighting over the baby and threatening to kill it. One of the men took Eju from the bed and tried to throw him to the floor. I quickly jumped up and caught Eju and ran out of the house with him. It was dark, and wet, the ground was slippery. But I ran as fast as I could down the hill and hid in the dark to see if I was being followed. I had to hold Eju’s mouth closed so they could not hear him cry.
“I watched for awhile as they came out of the house to look for me. It was too dark and it took them a little while to get organized, so I ran to a neighbor’s house and knocked on the door. They let me in and I told them what was happening. They hid us and let us sleep there overnight. I got up and took Eju home with me by bus at five in the morning.
“I had to tell my father what happened. He was very upset but not surprised. Jessie came home a few days later. I took care of Eju during that time, even when Jessie was there. I spoke with my great grandmother Ellie and asked her what I should do. She told me to follow my heart. I told her my heart said to keep Eju and raise him as my own son. My wise old great granny told me that God would support me if I was really confirmed in my decision.
“After about a week Jessie went back to Gopal and I kept Eju. A few days later my father asked me when I was going to send Eju back to his parents and I told him I was never going to send him back. We had a very long talk about it and how it was that I would take care of this baby. My father was already financially stressed and did not want another mouth to feed.
“I transferred from my nursing school, which was four hours away by bus, to a school in Kumily (which is where the family home was) and I took Eju to school with me. I told people he was my baby and his father worked a long ways away. I got a job dancing in shows for resort guests to help feed my baby and pay the bills. My father and brother Shyam played music at the resort, so they also played the music while my Uncle Cebe and me danced in the traditional Kerala style. My mother watched Eju while we performed.”
I interrupted Shyni’s story to ask, “Wasn’t it difficult to go to school, study, take care of a child and dance every evening? How could you manage?”
“Oh, I was often very tired, but I loved my life. I always wanted to be a mother so it was easy to take care of Eju. I loved being with my father and brother while they played music. It was difficult but I just did what I had to do. I could not quit school; I needed to have life out of the poverty that was too common in India. So I put up with it all. Until my father died, that is when I quit dancing and went to Delhi to work. Then my whole family needed money and Delhi was the only place I could earn good pay.”
I was blown away and my eyes were filled with tears. “Wow Shyni, I did not realize. You could have told me that Eju was your son. I can love both of you.”
“I did not know how you would take it. I wasn’t sure if you would understand. I felt I could tell you later and it would be okay.” Shyni said with a little bit of worry in her voice.
“It is okay. I love you and I am happy that we can take him to the States with us…we will be able to take him won’t we? Did you legally adopt him?”
“No. But we can do that if you like.”
“We will probably have to adopt him in order to get him a visa. Will Gopal and Jessie allow this?”
“It will take some time, but I can convince them. Eju does not want them and they don’t really want him either. Eju was so sad on our wedding day. Did you notice? He cried when we were leaving because he thought you were taking me to the USA. He did not understand what a honeymoon was, he thought Honeymoon was a place.”
I felt so happy that it was I who married this woman and not some other foreigner who might have objected. There were so many things in my life, the big things, in complex ways, that always seemed to work out in just the perfect way. I felt like this was one more sign that our marriage was divinely orchestrated and that my new wife Shyni too was moving with the divine flow of life. “Call your mother as soon we get to our resort and tell them we are going to take Eju with us.”
We stopped a couple of times along the way to enjoy the spectacular views. The rivers and valleys and waterfalls were too beautiful to pass by at a quick pace. I held Shyni close as we stood and admired the views. I felt an even deeper sense of connection with her because we were becoming a family. When I was considering taking an Indian wife, I thought it would be nice to find a widow who already had children, because I love children and because I knew a woman with a child would have a harder time finding a husband. I could not imagine taking a wife as young as twenty four like so many of the girls I had met. I did like the idea of having a younger wife, but not at the expense of immaturity. I preferred to have a mature woman even if it meant an older wife. As I held Shyni in my arms I was filled with joy and amazement at how God took so many of my desires into account when he set us up. I got a beautiful young wife who was also a mature woman and a child, this was everything I wanted. And we were getting along very well.
When we arrived at our hotel in Munnar Shyni was again not feeling very well and I needed a walk to stretch my legs after our long drive. She was already used to my routine of taking a morning and evening walk alone so she seemed to be fine with me going for a walk before it got dark. When I returned from my walk however she was not as happy. The hotel staff had questioned her about what she was doing there with me. They wanted to see our wedding certificates, which she showed to them. The man running the hotel did not seem to be impressed but the other two women on the staff began treating Shyni better. I held Shyni in my arms to comfort her and caressed her hair.
Indians have very strange ideas about life and what is appropriate and inappropriate. Actually people in all cultures have this problem, but it is much easier to see it in another culture than it is in your own. However, if you live in a couple of different cultures for a few years, it becomes easy to see the silliness of your own culture as well. I highly recommend that people go and live in a couple of different foreign countries for a few years. It would dramatically help you in your efforts to change your inner programming. If we could only take about one third of the born and raised Americans and transplant them to various third world countries for three years I bet we would see a rapid and dramatic change for the better in the entire world within a few years time. It would change the perspective of so many people who could then be effective agents for worldwide changes.
Shyni had also phoned Chechi (her mother) while I was gone. Chechi was happy to hear from us so soon on our journey. And Eju was very happy to hear about our ideas to take him to the States with us. They were also relieved that I was letting Shyni continue her communication with her family. They wondered how long it would be before they heard from Shyni.
We had a romantic dinner alone together for the first time since I have known Shyni. It was just the two of us, without family, indeed there were no other guests in the dining room at the time we were there. We talked a lot about our lives and our hopes and dreams for our future together and Shyni told me more about the troubles she had protecting Eju from harm.
“After I had been caring for Eju for two months, the president of Gopal’s community called me and she asked me to come to Gopal’s house for a meeting. When I arrived with Eju, Gopal’s cousin Sanu was there along with Gopal, Jessie and this community woman. She talked with us all and told Gopal that he had to pay some money to me for taking care of his baby. Sanu got very angry and picked up a chair, raising it over his head, to smash me with it while I was holding Eju. The community president was a big woman and she caught the chair and stopped him from hitting me. I ran for the door but Sanu caught me and began choking me to try to get me to drop Eju. I nearly passed out but I didn’t drop him so Sanu pushed me out the door. Both Eju and I fell onto the cement porch and got scratched up pretty badly. Gopal just sat there in silence; he said nothing.”
“Oh my God! What did you do?”
“I went back home and never took Eju back there again. But that is not all…Four months later Gopal’s mother and step-father came to visit us. She was being nice and wanted to hold the baby so I let her and I went to the toilet. My mother was there with them so I thought it would be okay. When I came back Gopal’s mother was gone. She had only been at the house for a very short time. I asked Chechi what had happened and she told me Eju’s grandmother gave him some biscuits and then they said they had to go. Very soon Eju started looking sick so we rushed him to the hospital.”
I was in shock. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. “Did they poison him?”
“Yes, Gopal’s mother poisoned Eju.”
“Did they pump out his stomach? Did the test it for poison?”
“Yes, we did have his stomach pumped and they did find that there was poison in the biscuits. They tried to kill him.”
I sat there for a moment with my mind reeling, How could anyone do something like that to a baby? Especially when someone else was taking care of it and not asking for anything. I was feeling mixed emotions. I was very proud that I had such a strong woman as Shyni as my wife and at the same time in shock at how sick some people could be. “Did you go to the police? Did you tell them what had happened?”
“No, we did not want any more trouble from these people. I called Gopal and told him to never come to our house again. I told him to tell the rest of his family to stay away or we would call the police.”
“Did that work, did they stay away?”
“They stayed away until Eju was nearly five. Then Gopal came by with a friend of his. Eju met Gopal at the door and called me. I asked Eju who it was and he said he didn’t know. When I came to the door Gopal had tears in his eyes. I told him I did not want his tears or his drama and sent him away.
“Many months later Gopal came back again. Jessie was staying with us at the time. He said he wanted his wife and child back. My father told me I had no legal right to keep Eju so I should send him back to his father.”
“Oh my God! What did you do?”
“I had to send him back. But I went with them. After two days I could see that Gopal was not acting like a father. He gave no love to Eju. He did not pick Eju up or play with him or hug and kiss him. And Jessie too began ignoring Eju again. So I took Eju with me and left.”
“How long was Jessie living with you at your house?”
“On and off for a year and a half. The longest she stayed with us was eight months.”
“Wow Shyni, you are a strong woman. You don’t ever have to worry about having that kind of drama with me. I will take good care of both you and Eju. Will they give us any trouble adopting him?”
“I can manage them. It will take some time. But we will get the legal papers.”
“After your father died, what did you do with Eju then? That is when you went to Delhi to work as a nurse right?”
“I couldn’t take Eju with me. It would have been too difficult. I had to learn a new language and learn my way around Delhi. I could not trust anybody in a strange city to take care of Eju while I was at work. So my mother took care of Eju while I was gone. I was making good money and saved most of it to send home to take care of the bills my father left behind and to feed my family. I took the train back home a couple of times each year to visit.”
Shyni’s story had me in tears. I was very impressed with Shyni and so thankful that I could be there to help make the rest of her life easier. We enjoyed our dinner together and then went back to our room. Shyni still had a fever and wanted to go to sleep early so we did.
I made no moves to have sex with her because she was still ill. But while we were lying in bed cuddling Shyni told me she was ready and wanted to make love so we did. It was awkward for us at first; more awkward than any other sexual experience I had in the past, but it was the start. It took many months for us to become totally comfortable with our sexual experience together. She had a lot to learn, and I learned some new things too.
Now I can honestly say that Shyni is the best sexual partner I have ever had. Although there are many reasons for this, I believe one of the biggest reasons is that we are both totally committed without any thought or desire for anyone else. That is not something I can say about my past relationships. In the past there was always a desire in the back of my mind for other sexual experiences with other women. In my younger years I thought it was natural and normal for a young man to have strong sexual urges and desire for multiple sexual partners. Now I am certain that energy tainted my past relationships and made them less than they could have been. By the time I had married Shyni too much had happened in my life, good times and painful times, things that got me ready for this woman and the commitment she had to be totally faithful to her husband. So faithful that she waited thirty years without sharing so much as a kiss with another man. I don’t mean this to be critical in any way of anybody else; I am just presenting our experience.
We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our honeymoon together, but there were some challenges. We stayed two nights at this hotel which was higher up in the mountains than the village of Munnar. There was a lake and dam and tea plantations to explore. We stayed two more nights in the village of Munnar where Shyni was very ill and we had to call a doctor to our home-stay room to examin her and give her medication. While there we enjoyed a paddle boat ride on a river; I did all of the peddling since Shyni was not feeling well. Then we went down to a village called Kumarakom near the coast, not too far from Cochin. Shyni felt much better there because the climate was hot. Munnar was five thousand feet high and quite cold at night, and even cool during the day. We stayed three nights in a home-stay right on a canal and took a motor boat cruise of the canals while we were there. We also drove around and enjoyed all of the beautiful natural sights of the area.
Shyni stayed in touch with her family the whole time we were on our honeymoon. While we were in Kumarakom she got the disturbing news that Gopal had beat his wife Jessie. Because of that, and because I wanted to get back to work writing my book Unforgettable: A Love and Spiritual Growth Story, we cut our honeymoon short by a few days. We had one more costal city we were going to visit but decided to return to Kumily instead.
Karma Changes People
Because I have reported some pretty horrible things about Shyni’s relatives in this story I wish to balance it out by saying something else about these people. It is nearly three years later and during this time Life has had quite an impact on them. Jessie and Gopal have stayed with us for many days and nights on many occasions. We did legally adopt Eju and their second child Geethu has also come under our care. Geethu wants us to adopt her too and Jessie and Gopal have consented. Jessie is not without fault in their fights; indeed she has a very big mouth, can be quite mean, and does not know when to shut up. She talks constantly, and I do mean constantly. Once my brother pulled the circuit breaker in our house so Jessie would think we had a power outage and go to sleep. It worked and she stopped talking.
Jessie and Gopal are getting along a lot better now as a result of so many things, including the influence that Shyni and I have had on them. Shyni’s mother Chechi is taking care of the kids since we have no visa’s for them yet. Jessie and Gopal are helping out and have become very responsible. The kids deny that Jessie and Gopal are their parents, treats them like servants, insults them any time they screw up, and tries to show them the correct way to care for children. Otherwise both kids are strong loving and competent beings. Eju has won a few singing competitions and at age twelve has become quite the entrepreneur starting a few of his own side businesses. Geethu has been the top student of her class in both kindergarten and first grades. I keep telling Shyni to talk to the kids about respecting their birth parents, but we don’t have that much control from here. I don’t speak their language yet and the kid’s English is not real good either. So Jessie and Gopal are being given some very hard lessons and they are changing.
The second husband of Gopal’s mother died recently and her stepchildren kicked her out of her husband’s home. This is the woman who poisoned Eju as a baby. Gopal’s father, which is her first husband, lives with Jessie and Gopal and will not have her back. So Gopal can’t care for his own mother who faces being homeless. She is not homeless however, because she is now living with Shyni’s mother Chechi, Eju and Geethu. Eju is loving his grandmother who tried to kill him early in his life. She has to live with what she did on a daily basis. Her vial deeds were returned with love.
It is funny how Eju’s life and existence has influenced these people who were so desperate for money when he was born and so ready to kill him because they thought he would be a burden in their lives. When Eju was two years old he played Tabla with his grandfather at the Spice Village Resort and earned Rs. 100 for his performance, a day’s wage for an Indian man. Just the other day the family needed food yet Chechi and Gopal both were out of money. We normally give them money but the ATM card they were using was stolen and the new one has not yet arrived. So twelve year old Eju told Chechi that he would go and do some work so they could eat. He went out and returned only a couple of hours later with Rs. 600 (for installing a home theater); this is a week’s wage for an Indian man. They all ate that evening and for many more days because of the baby they wanted to kill. Life has its ways of teaching us what we need to learn.
Stay tuned for the next installment – Stranded in India
Love and Blessings,
Author of Unforgettable: A Love and Spiritual Growth Story
P.S. If you like this story and my other blogs then you will love my book. Please help us out by reading Unforgettable and telling your friends about it. You can purchase an autographed copy directly from my website or you can also find it on Amazon.com as well as BarnesAndNoble.com.
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