My mother told me this story. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. And this is one of those true stories.
My grandmother got married at the age of twelve. It’s an age when children form close friendships; giggles, gossips, tears, joys and sorrows are shared. My grandmother too had a best friend at the time. I cannot recall her name, but she lived next door to my mother’s maiden home and was about the same age as my grandmother. Even as my grandmother took to familial responsibilities, suffered tortures at the hands of her mother-in-law, and abandoned a carefree childhood, her friend stood by her as a pillar of strength.
Some years later, my grandmother’s friend fell in love with a man, who also lived in the same neighborhood. The man loved her back. It was a lovely time of her life – young love. My grandmother was happy for her best friend. Until the talk of a wedding started doing the rounds.
The lovers were of a different caste. He was a Nair whereas she was a Thiyya. In a country like ours, where even in this day and age inter-caste relationships and marriages are frowned upon, one can only imagine what the state was during my grandmother’s time! The man did not raise his voice. He did not show any courage whatsoever, to tell his family about the girl he loved. He bowed his head in front of his parents’ wishes and unceremoniously bade goodbye to the girl who was still devoted to him. We cannot judge him for this. Considering the times he lived in (while one may argue that he could have done something) he probably did not have a choice.
My mother said, soon after the wedding, the man moved on, as men usually do. However, the girl slowly withered, right before my grandmother’s eyes. She saw, how her once-vibrant friend, her pillar of strength, degraded beyond recognition.
She never married. Some years later, before even reaching the age of thirty, she died.
She literally died of a broken heart.