"I was too small to remember the wedding—I had no idea it had taken place," Orola says.Devastated to discover that she was expected to share her own mother's husband, she says, "My mother already had two children with him.
"They spent all their time gossiping about boys, and I couldn't join in," she says.
Since Mandi communities are usually very close-knit, her intense isolation drove her to consider suicide. I couldn't have managed alone after my first husband died." Noten was the only bachelor available—most Mandis marry around the age of 18—so she had no choice but to allow him to wed Orola as well.
I wanted a husband of my own." The situation was doubly unjust in Orola's eyes because ethnic Mandi women usually choose their own partners.
The tribe's matrilineal structure means that women are the heads of household, and all property is passed down the female line.
Women make the first romantic move and propose marriage.
"I was excited about finding the right man," says Orola.
"People stay quiet about it because having more than one wife is frowned on by the church," says Shulekha Mrong, head of Achik Michik, a powerful women's group run by Mandi female elders.
Today, Orola Dalbot is the mother of three children with Noten: a 14-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl, and an 19-month-old girl.
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