Here is a chronology of our secret relationship, for the reader to imagine how patient we had to be until our big secret could revealed to the world. It was hard. Even in Varanasi (450 km away from Khajuraho) where I was a student, I was too scared to tell people that Kishan was my husband for fear of “leakage” to Khajuraho. Our strategy was to remain vague, to confuse people. And it took so long until the secret was finally revealed that it seemed like it would never happen…
August 2005: Meeting Kishan during my first Indian trip with my friend Niko, spending four days in Khajuraho.
January 2008: Back in Khajuraho to stay with Kishan’s family and learn Hindi in total immersion. Stayed two and a half months and developed a strong bond with the family.
February 2008: Beginning of our secret relationship.
March 2009: Kishan’s family learns by ‘SMS-accident’ that we are in a relationship. After a two-hour family crisis and emotional thunderstorm during which I don’t stop crying, the family accepts me although our relationship still has to be kept a total secret.
March 2009: Kishan’s mother has to undergo an operation and needs some blood beforehand. I am the only compatible donor as well as a man we meet by chance in the hospital. I give my own blood to Kishan’s mother. For some years following the operation she will speak about this incident to various relatives, and I am certain it’s a huge factor in my being accepted in the family.
March 2010: Kishan applies for a Belgian visa (sponsored by our friend Niko) to come to Europe with me. The visa is refused.
April 2011: Beginning of a six-month preparatory bureaucracy procedure for our secret marriage. This includes some vain meetings with two lawyers in Varanasi, Kishan’s long application to obtain a birth certificate, a secret trip to Bhopal to certify his birth certificate, an application for a non-objection certificate from the French embassy, etc.
Mid to end November 2011: Meeting with an advocate of the Delhi Court to present our marriage file. We are still confused about the bureaucratic procedure of marriage at this stage and think it will take another month before we can get married, but the advocate tells us our file is ready and we can get married the following day if we want! Two days later we get married. We stay in Delhi for almost two weeks to apply for marriage transcription into French law at the French embassy.
December 2011: About ten days later our marriage is transcribed into French law. For me, this means victory at long last!
September 2012: Ten months after our marriage, Kishan finally tells his mother that he wants to marry me.
End of 2012: A distant family comes to visit the house, because they are looking for a suitable husband for their daughter and they think Kishan is a good potential. I am visiting too and no-one knows that Kishan is already married to me. We find the situation very, er, interesting…
February 2013: After a vain trip to Delhi to apply for my PIO card, Kishan finally reveals to his mother that our marriage papers are complete.
March 2013: My sister comes to India to visit us. This is the first time a member of my family meets Kishan, five years after the beginning of our relationship!
April 2013: Kishan finally asks his mother if we can sleep in the same bedroom (up until then I always slept with his mother and sisters whenever I visited the family). She agrees but only when no guests are visiting the house. (So far, only his mother, his youngest sister and brother know that we are actually married, although the rest of his close family know it is meant to happen. The marriage still has to be kept secret outside of the house until his youngest sister gets married.)
30 April 2013: Kishan gets his first visa to come to France! I am on a big, high cloud. I am so delighted that I want to jump and dance everywhere and twist all Indian men’s moustaches with joy! I cannot believe this is finally happening!!!
15 May 2013: Kishan flies to France with me for the first time!
February 2014: Kishan’s youngest sister gets married. A day after her wedding an uncle starts pestering me to organise a grand marriage for Kishan and I… Up to then other relatives can’t take our marriage seriously, although it is legally official, because we haven’t had a proper Hindu ceremony within the community.
July 2015: I find out I am pregnant, while on our second trip in Europe.
10 December 2015: Kishan and his close family finally start talking about organising our ceremony, because we should be married in the eyes of the community before our child is born.
14 December 2015: Only four (!!!) (insanely busy!) days after making the decision, our wedding ceremony takes place in a tent right in front of our house – that is over four years after our court marriage! I want to keep it small and Kishan assures me that we will only have about fifty guests, but we end up feeding two hundred more people who have invited themselves.