Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
TITLE: A marriage has been arranged
By Margaret Watson
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The first time I saw my husband I wondered if he was mad. He was sitting alone on a hillside with his hands cupped in front of him. I saw him quite a few times in the next few days, always in the same place and always in the same attitude. By this time I was convinced that there was something a little odd going on. Then I met him properly. We were actually staying in the same building – a former palace, at almost 10,000 ft up in the Himalayas. The monsoon had started that afternoon and I arrived back soaked to the skin to find only one person in – John. He was just making a cup of tea. Perfect. Just what I needed. Except that he made just one cup and then returned to his room. The first proper conversation we had was over an ironing board few days later. He was already there when I got there and was ironing socks. No one I knew ironed socks, but apparently his mother did. Believe it or not that was the start of a relationship that soon blossomed – we got engaged some 4 months later and have now been happily married for some 23 years.
So how did we go from such poor beginnings to falling in love? Neither of us was looking for a partner at the time and to be honest there were plenty to choose from if we were. There seemed to be hundreds of single young people around that summer. It was the matchmakers, other people, many of them married, who had time on their hands. They decided that we were suited and every week they had a prayer meeting about it. These meetings also including making plans. They trusted in God, but expected to have to work as well. So we found ourselves sitting next to each other at meals. We would be sent on errands to the market together – it was a politically dangerous time and you didn’t go alone. We were ‘volunteered’ to arrange an English night. We went for treks that had been arranged and were the only two that turned up. I finally realised something was up when we went to a restaurant with a group of about 12. Everyone suddenly pushed ahead and we were the last to enter only to find ten people crowded round one table and the only other table being one set for two in an alcove. The following week the same group went to the cinema. When the lights went up we were the only ones left out of the 14 or so who had arrived together. This meant a 2 mile walk home in total darkness. When I tell you the road was unfenced and that there were some places where there was a drop of as much as 5,000 ft on one side and that I had a problem with night blindness, you will realise why we held hands and walked slowly as far from the edge as possible.
Was it romantic – not particularly. In fact it was often just rather wet and soggy. The socks were ironed because in the monsoon period that was the only way to get things dry. The roof leaked and I spent my nights under a plastic table cloth. One morning I found that my leather suitcase had overnight all but disintegrated under a growth of fungus. Someone else in the house broke the local hospital records for having the most different kinds of bugs at once. The road to a nearby village had simply fallen off the hillside. There were good points as when the sun set just behind K2 and the whole household, would be leaning at awkward angles from bathroom windows in order to get a goods view.
When, I saw John leave after some ten weeks, my heart was in my throat. We were going to be living 5 hours away from each other. I need not have been so despondent. He turned up two weeks later and proposed. When I told people they just said,”And about time too.”
In case you are wondering what he was doing in the first place, he had got water in his camera lens and was trying to dry it out. Mind you he still does odd things and he still irons socks.
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