The dozens of bangles clanked as she raised her hands to examine the red patterns painted on her hands. The voice in her head was screaming the same question over and over again: “are you really going to do this?” Was there any other option? Her eyes locked with the artificial beauty in front of her. Now more than ever she didn’t recognize her reflection. The room was spinning; maybe it was because of the weight of all the jewelry or maybe it was because of the weight of this decision. This was cruel; she was getting sentenced for life and for what? Her choice in friends. It was the ultimate punishment; marriage.
A few months ago, it was all about her inability to take care of herself, ‘You’re eighteen, take some form of responsibility, of yourself if not of anything else,’ Now they expected her to not just be responsible for herself but to start a family? I’m eighteen, she reminded herself, just eighteen, I cannot do this.’
The doors opened and people flooded in, laughing and excitedly coming in to inspect whether or not she was ‘pretty’ enough to be presented to her new family. It was hard plastering that fake smile on her face, to hide the pain she felt, masking from everyone the feeling of abandonment and rejection. She was surrounded by girls, giggling and teasing her about the stranger in the next room waiting to be bound to her forever. Wasn’t this supposed to be the happiest day in a person’s life? Then why did she feel like the red color of her dress came from the blood pumping vigorously out of her wounded heart.
This was unfair to her and to that poor boy who, just like her was fulfilling his duty as a child by accepting this relationship for his parents. Normally, she would have made peace with this decision as she had with every other decision that was taken for her. The problem was that the reasons for this rash decision bothered her. Her mother feared that her daughter was ‘getting out of control’ that the only way to protect her from the common evils and sins of the world was to get her a husband. What brought upon this paranoia? Her new friends and apparently, her new attitude.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the entrance of the maulvi (muslim preist) and the rest of the members of her family. This was it, the moment that would change her life forever. Her hands shook as she took the pen and signed her name down on the document binding her to someone else’s life permanently. Her name shined on the paper. She looked at it fighting back tears. She had just freed her mother and also been thrown into someone else’s life. She was now somebody else’s burden.