Living in Bangladesh, Orola Dalbot always had respect for her step-father. The man married her mother after her dad died when she was only three years old. Now 30, she explained to several sources that she thought he was handsome and had a nice smile. Little did she know at the time that she was also married to the same man as her mother.
She secretly hoped that she would one day meet someone like him for herself. It wasn’t until she grew up and started to mature physically that she found out that her step-father, Noten, was not only her mother’s husband, he was hers too.
When her mother married Noten, Orola was officially considered married to him too. This is not uncommon in Bangladesh as it is a tradition in their tribe, the Matrilineal Mandi.
The tradition is that a woman who wish to remarry after her husband dies, must marry someone in their own tribe.
However, the majority of men in the Mandi tribe are younger so as an incentive the bride must offer one of her daughters as well.
Orola told The Guardian that when she found this out she was horrified at first.
“The last thing I wanted was to be married to Noten. I wanted a husband of my own,” she said.
While this is a tradition in her community, it is also not discussed publicly. Orola said that that was one of the most difficult aspects. “For years I wanted to talk to someone about it because I was lonely,” she said of the situation she found herself in. “But people think it’s un-Christian, so they ignore it.”
Things became uncomfortable in the house as you can imagine if a mother and daughter shared the same husband. “It grew tense when Noten began sleeping with me. My mother knew it was inevitable – she pushed me into Noten’s bed when I was 15 to consummate the marriage. But he quickly began to prefer me to her,” she explained.
She said the shared marriage changed her relationship with her mother and created a rivalry.
Her mother, Mittamoni, felt the marriage was necessary for the family to survive. Having a man in the house was crucial in order to help with their crops which brought them an income.
Orola now has three children with her and her mother’s husband, Noten.
As stories like Orola’s surface about the little-known tradition that many have experienced firsthand, many are starting to call for the rule to be abolished.