Illicit Love

Kuhelika Kutum

Belonging to the Miri community

Sai Vikash, Guwahati

Its the very first time I have written a story except for those in my english exams. Well yeah, cause I only write miserable heartsick poems. Nevertheless, here is a story speaking about some moral laws regarding what kind of love is acceptable and what isn't in our Miri community. I hope you all don't hate it.

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 Kuhelika Kutum

"She eloped last night"

This evening while my mother and aunt were having their everyday chat on call; I overheard their conversation and this caught my attention.
Hereby "she" they were referring to one of my maternal cousin sisters from the village. I wasn't sure which one they were talking about. Although I assumed, it must have been Majoni baa. She is in her late twenties and our entire family is against her relationship with her boyfriend, even though he too belongs to our tribe and is a well settled good guy, as far as I have heard. As such, it was very obvious for me to assume it was her, who eloped with her boyfriend. Well I asked mom and was shocked to find out it wasn't her, but another cousin of mine who is only around 19 years old.
What added to my surprise was that her (Maina baa)parents had already accepted her relationship long back, why did she do this stunt then?. Why was my family so chilled about it instead of being mad at her.I had so many questions in my mind and Mom could definitely read it on my face and she in her most casual tone said,
"Well this is how it has always been with our tribe"
"But it wont apply to you, mind it"

She then smirked.

I asked her to elaborate about how eloping of such a young girl was acceptable( which is not very surprising in villages unlike here in cities),and the marriage of the other, aged and independent girl wasn't.She then explained it all from the start, like a bedtime story.

Our Miri tribe, also referred to as the Mishing community, has been divided into two groups in terms of marriage purposes. Suppose, one group has Doley, Kutum (this are the surnames) and the other has Pegu, Patir etc. The people within the same group will be considered as relatives and can only marry one from the opposite group. This was the case in Majoni baa's relationship.She fell in love with someone who was from the same group, hence their love is considered to be immoral.Well this made me realize that I too got to pay attention to surnames later, which is not gonna be that easy and I feel sorry for my sister.
Now moving on to Maina baa's situation, her running away is considered to be a part of our cultural laws, although nowadays this is only limited to the villages.
Miri Jiyori (Jonki - Panoi); we all have heard about it already, is a well known love story.This couple being childhood companions to deeply committed lovers, faced an unfortunate ending.They eloped at a young age, after Panoi was forced to marry someone else and not her lover Jonki. It is believed that Miri people started following this form of marriage by elopement (Dugla - lanam) ever since the incident of Jonki Panoi took place. In this form of marriage, a couple elopes, regardless of their parents accepting their relationship.

The very next day, an elderly man of the Groom's family visits the Bride's home to inform her family about the marriage (although everyone is aware). This is then followed by a meeting among the relatives and other  knowledgeable people, deciding when to keep the Gikip-Gilap (returning of the bride to home or reception day). A day is scheduled according to everyone's convenience and the bride is not allowed to visit her home until this returning ceremony is completed. The day of the reception, some rituals are followed which nowadays (modernised) are unlike the original ones that used to be in old times.

This was also the form of marriage that Miri people did when they weren't financially capable of doing the actual grand wedding (Daro - midang).
It is said that this is a grand form of wedding that only wealthy people could afford. It has various ceremonies to be performed and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Although in villages this form is very rarely practiced.

And my mother told me to remember that the eloping way is not going to be my thing, although I never considered it in the first place lol. The irony of the above two cases in respect to the other communities is clearly noticeable. Well it was nice to learn something new about my own culture, something that I feel is weird and also very unique. Maybe our tribe is the only one where people won't curse or be mad at lovers for eloping, cause this is how it has always been and will forever continue in the villages of us Miri people.