The Neighbor's Story

Ezra Azra

Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra
Photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash
Photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash
The Kagin family was our neighbour. Like every other family in our small town, every family knew every neighbor's family's story. Sadly, everybody's ethics and morals in our town were still rooted in the fifteenth century, or thereabouts.

There was nothing special about the Kagins. There were the parents, whose first names I never knew. There were two children; daughters.

Maythil was the older. This part of the Kagin story begins when Maythil was about twenty years old.

The way international politics were heading, everybody was expecting the country to be at war with another, soon.

As it was in the fifteenth century, or thereabouts, Maythil at twenty and unmarried, was regarded as a curse on her family. As a curse, she was neglected to do with her life as she pleased. Her parents secretly wished she would leave home so that they would not be reminded every hour of every day that they were cursed. They had the decency to not let her know directly, but that decency did not apply to innuendoes at every turn.

Maythil got a job, left home, went to night school, and became a teacher.

She was so successful as a teacher at a Government school in the town, she was appointed principal of a small school by the time she was twenty-three. She bought a small home. As a principal, she was treated with respect and admiration by almost everyone in the town. In time, only the very old persons regarded Maythil as a curse on her family.

When Maythil was twenty years old, her parents were determined to get her sixteen year-old sister married. They were determined to not have another unmarried daughter on their hands.

Jhindhi, the sister, was eager to get married if only to be free of her fifteenth century-minded parents. The parents arranged a marriage with a not-too-far-away friendly neighbor's son. Fortuitously, the intended bridegroom was suitable, even by fifteenth century criteria. He was eighteen years old.

Hasty preparations for the wedding were proceeding well, until the bridegroom died days before the wedding date.

He was in a friendly soccer game with friends. He was a goalkeeper. He dived to prevent a goal being scored against his team. In successfully deflecting the ball, his dive crashed his head against a goal post. He died instantly.

His death so near their wedding date, made Jhindhi, by the thinking in the fifteenth century, or thereabouts, a widow. As a widow, she was unlikely to be sought after to be a bride, again, by a young person.

Only an old man with already adult children would have dared to risk marrying such an accursed young woman, in such an accursed family, despite her youth and her perfect physical beauty. At sixteen years old, Jhindhi was most perfectly beautiful, outwardly.

Even the oldest man would not have dared even think of marrying her after Jhindhi's second intended bridegroom died of a heart attack while swimming in the town's bay, a few days before their wedding. He was twice her age, but single and financially wealthy.

The rumour was that he was homosexual; and, by the town's morals of the fifteenth century, or thereabouts, was destined to never get married. The rumour said it was Jhindhi who approached him with a proposal he found impossible to decline. The rumour, so far, did not disclose what Jhindhi's proposal had been.

Jhindhi was now in her nineteenth year.   Of course, her fifteenth century-minded parents secretly wished Jhindhi would leave home so that they would not be reminded every hour of every day how cursed they were to have a second daughter who was more cursed than the first.

After the death of her second intended, Jhindhi took matters into her own hands. She took steps. She divulged her plan to her sister, only. Maythil fully supported Jhindhi's decision. The sisters would implement Jhindhi's plan in the days ahead.

A few days after the sisters had celebrated the younger one's bold independent step forward, a male teacher, named Vester, at the school, requested an urgent meeting with his principal, who was Maythil.

In Maythil's office, Vester said he had decided to put his career on hold while he enlisted in the army to fight, and to die, if necessary, for his country in the impending war. Maythil supported Vester's difficult patriotic decision.

Vester went on to inform Maythil that he had no family, and so his application to enlist in the country's Armed Forces could not proceed until he provided the name of a next-of-kin beneficiary, should he die in battle for his country. He proposed they get married so that Maythil could be his beneficiary.

It was a proposal so fifteenth century, or thereabouts, when spousal marriages, in general, did not include romance.

Maythil was in a mild quandary. On the one hand, marriage, and, to a younger man would go a very long way to salvaging her honour in the minds of all the town's people with minds fixed in the fifteenth century, or thereabouts. And if her husband was killed in action in the coming war, she would, in those minds, be, virtually, royalty.

On the other hand, she was being so successful being not married, she was, mildly, somewhat, terrified at the prospect of giving up her unmarried status.

Maythil, had an inspiration. She proposed it to Vester. He accepted it instantly and wholly, unconditionally.

Jhindhi's plan was to live with Maythil while she studied to qualify as a school teacher, since she had completely given up on marriage. Since Vester was looking for a marriage on paper only, he and Jhindhi could get married, and he could go off to war. Vester and Jhindhi were married, and he went off to war.

Both sisters, in secrecy from each other, hoped Vester would be granted his wish to die a hero in the coming war.

The war came. It lasted years. The nation suffered enormously. The home in which Maythil and Jhindhi lived, suffered aerial bombing. Jhindhi died; Maythil survived fully. Vester's country won. He returned with a chest full of medals for outstanding heroism, the most decorated soldier in his country.

When Vester arrived home and found out Jhindhi had been killed, he proposed marriage to Maythil. 

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