This is Part 3 of a story that began with these first two chapters (and a side story):
Part 2 - The Suicide and the Accident
A Side Story - The Elephants of India
Photos of our Hindu Wedding Ceremony.
After what Shyni’s family referred to as our “First Marriage” I returned back to my home-stay room in Kumily alone. I was hoping that I would not run into
Mohammad, the young man who rented me the motor bike, nor Madhu or Sandhya, the owners of the home-stay. I returned to my room only to change my clothes and take a bucket bath before going out to dinner and hoped I could at least get through dinner before there was a question about the whereabouts of the motorbike.
Showers are not common in India, and when you do find one, they usually don’t work very well, which was the case in my room. Hot water was also not common amongst the native people, as they could not afford the electricity, gas or firewood required to heat the water. Nor did they have the hot water heaters that they called geysers, except in hotel rooms and home-stays that were meant for foreign tourists. It was chilly in the morning and evening, which meant that I needed hot water, and plenty of it. The geyser did not provide quite enough for my needs so I would fill up the bucket with hot water, wait 10 minutes for the geyser to reheat some more, and then begin my bath.
Being an American I had never in my life taken a bucket bath before I came to India. The concept was foreign to me. It was not too difficult to figure out, but still I had never even considered it before my arrival on these foreign shores. You have your large bucket which you fill with water at the desired temperature and a one liter mug which you use to scoop water out and pour over yourself.
I was able to make it through my dinner and back to my room without running into Mohammad. This was actually unusual since he was a “guide” in Kumily and was often seen in the various places I would go including the restaurants. I did not run into Madhu or Sandhya that evening either. It was almost as if Sandhya was avoiding me ever since I announced that I was going to marry Shyni, because in that week of time, she stopped coming by my room to talk. Of course I was hardly ever at my room like I had been in the prior weeks. So I just figured that was the reason.
The next day however was a different story. Mohammad came to my room and asked me where his motorbike was. He had noticed it was not parked outside. He also told me that I had been seen in Peremade, one of his friends had informed him. Mohammad wanted to know what I was doing there. I told him it was none of his business and proceeded to give him a lecture about spying on us a week earlier when Shyni and I was first introduced. But Mohammad would not be distracted by my lecture, he again inquired about the bike and he insisted that I tell him where it was.
I lied to him and saying, “You don’t have to worry about your motorbike Mohammad. I am taking good care of it. It was too cold last night to ride it home so I left it at Shyni’s house and I took a rickshaw back.”
“I went to Shyni’s house just before. My bike is not there. There is going to be trouble. Now you better tell me what happened. I will bring the police here!” Mohammad’s tone turned angry and determined. Again I was surprised at how much he already knew.
“Alright, I had a small accident and the bike is in the shop being repaired. Don’t worry, I will pay for everything.”
“That is my motorbike. You must tell me where it is. I need to file insurance claims.”
“I told you not to worry; I will cover all of the repair costs. It is not that much. The insurance company does not even have to know about the accident.” I was determined to give Mohammad as little information as possible.
“Now you stop playing with me. You must tell me where it is. Did you get hurt? Was there anyone else on the bike with you? Did anyone get hurt?”
“No one got hurt. I was alone.”
“If you don’t tell me where it is I am going to bring the police here…Do you want that?”
“If you bring the police I will tell them how you were spying on our conversation the other evening…Do you want that?”
“You better get that bike back here by this afternoon or there will be trouble.” With that Mohammad walked away in a huff.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I did not think that Shyni would be back home yet, but I went there anyway to see. She was not there. Only her mother Chechi and nephew Eju were there. I could not understand them, nor could they understand me. So I was still left to figure this one out on my own.
I had work to do, so I returned to my room to resume my writing. Mohammed came by and confronted me two other times that same day. Each time I refused to tell him more than I already had. He was not happy.
The next morning I went to Shyni’s home and she was there. We talked about her brother-in-law Gopal who was fine except for some stitches and a swollen knee. Shyni told me the motorbike was in Kottayam, three hours away, being repaired by Gopal’s brother. It was only going to cost Rs. 3000 (Indian Rupees), which is about $75. I could hardly believe the cost would be so low. I figured the metal on the new parts alone would cost that much. In reality it turned out to cost only Rs. 600 more than that.
We talked about what to do about Mohammad, what would we tell him about his bike? Shyni told me to say nothing more than I had to. Then Shyni asked me, “Would you like to stay here instead of the home-stay?
I could not believe it. I replied, “Yes, that would be great. And it would save me some money too!”
“My family has discussed this and you can sleep in the room next to the kitchen and I will sleep with my mother in the main room. We cannot sleep together until our temple marriage.”
That was fine with me. At least I would be closer to Shyni and save money at the same time. And with the dramas with Mohammad, it was also more comforting to be at the family home. So I went straight back to the home-stay to collect my belongings and check out. Fortunately I missed Mohammad, but Sandhya gave me a lecture about hiding Mohammad’s bike from him.
Continue reading - The Kidnapping
Love and Blessings,
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