"Hey, the man is not ugly at night. And in the end, you're a woman. Marriage, is something you live for. Having children, is your goal in life. Taking care of the house, is your mission. And if you die during marriage, you're blessed, because dying as a married woman, and with your husband happy of you, means you enter heaven. So, stop dreaming something else! Get dressed, as an obedient girl, and come down. Is your engagement party. And don't you dare act as a tomboy. You were meant to wear the skirt! Not the pants! Understand? Stop giving me that look! I stopped your father from disciplining you for so long, but now I won't. Not anymore!"
This is what her mother told her, and pushed her in her room, where, on the bed, a beautiful pink dress was waiting. Amira had to put it on, and add a little makeup, and play nice, as it was her engagement party going on downstairs, and she had to impress her future inlaws, by showing obedience, the power of shutting up and eventually cooking skills, and she had to dance like a butterfly with her sister in laws, so that she can show that she possesses grace and sweetness... "Yuck!" She thought to herself, as she really hated that she had to go through all this. Why could they just not let her go on with her dream? Martial arts were her dream. She was good at it, and she could, one day be instructor, if she kept on doing the good work. But...noo...they had to tell her to quit, as "Women don't fight. You will lose your fertility if practicing these type of sports, that are basically just for men." Her mother said, therefore, grinning her teeth, cursing in her mind, she had to comply with their request, and throw away her dream...for what? For being someone's wife, and going in the shadows. As this is what she will eventually become. A shadow of a person, standing at her man's feet, careful at every wish he had, always prepared to be taken, and never asking questions. And if he had other women, she had to pretend not to know, and suffer in silence..."DAMMIT!" She cursed and she hit the nearby wall with her fist, causing it to bleed... but at least the pain calmed her. She aashed her hand, put some disinfectant on the small wound and got dressed. She could not denie that she looked very beautiful dressed up like a woman, and the light make up that she had to put on, to go with the dress, made her even more beautiful.
"Here we go!" She said to herself while going downstairs, where the party was. All the old women there were talking about her as if she was a well preserved corpse or something. "Oh My! She's 25? She's an old maiden! You should have married her off younger! Hopefully she'll conceive fast!"..."Oh, yes, indeed, she is not that young anymore. Good that she found someone to marry her at this age. Men usually want ylunger women!"..."She is 25 but looks like 19, so, this is an advantage!"...This and many more words she could hear, before making herself noticed!"
"Wah! Amira! You really look upto your name! Like a princess!! Oh my! Look at you!" An old lady, who had an important look, suddenly exclaimed! "Too bad that my son is not allowed to see you tonight. He might not have been able to take his eyes off you! We made a good choice when requestin you, and not one of the other candidates for marrying him, even if they are younger!"...Again the lady added, wanting to point out how lucky Amira was for marrying her son.
Amira, was generally someone who did not cry easily, but now, she felt humiliated. She felt exposed like a cow for sale, and that hurt her badly, so bad that tears came to her eyes, and ehe could not help them..."Honey, but what's wrong? Have I said anything that offended her?" .. the old woman asked..."No, I apologize," Amira added, "I am not used to receiving compliments or being praised. This is why!..I'm sorry!"..."Oh! If your family does not spoil you, then here you will be the most spoiled and happy woman ever. Ykur beauty shines!"
And the whole evening was about them praising her and her beauty, mentioning from time to time that is good to be so well preserved at her age, and about how lucky she was to be married in their family. She was reminded about her duty as a daughter in law, which isbto always look to please her in laws, in order to be blessed...Amira was tried by a feeling of sadness, anger, and also feeling abandoned...her own family was selling her off, even though she has done her best to make herself as less noticed as possible, and tried her best to occupy as little space as possible, precisely to avoid such a day for coming, but, as soon as she turned 20, Leema, one of her younger sisters, started asking aboit when will big sister marry, as she wants to start her own family as soon as possible, and Aicha, the youngest, was saying more often than ever than she wants the room once "big sister is at her home"...She bit her lips till blood, and she wanted to cry out loud in pain and anger. She aanted this charade to be finished, as it made her sick.
"OH MY!! How delicious these cookies look!" Her in law said, pleased. "I wonder who made them?!?"..."Ana", Amira said, being required by tradition to say it, despite the fact that she had absolutely no idea how to bake anything. She was an artist at throwing punches, handling self deffense weapons and throwing kicks, but she had absolutely no idea how to cook.
"Hey, I have a small question, if I am allowed to ask!", she said, with a glimpse of hope in her eyes..."Go ahead sweetie, ask whatever you want. All you ask for will be granted. You're a treasure!"...the old woman said, benevoleantly, and smiling, obviously satisfied with Amira, her looks, her manners and everything else..."Will I be required to pursue my dream and work as a martial arts instructor? Is a decent job!" She asked..."What?!?! What is she saying??! LA! LA! LA! LA! How did you educate her?!? Work? She will have the house to work in! A husband to take care of! Children to raise! Shame! Shame! Noura! How did you raise your daughter! I am not calling the engagement off because we have lnown each other for so long, but she would better not mention this shameful thing again! She would better conceive during the first month of marriage also, or else my son will divorce her as for being barren due to doing men work.!"
"Go to your room immediately! Think about what you have said! Kiss ylur mother in law's hand and ask for forgiveness! I will tell your father to flog you for this!" ... Noura said to her daughter, angrily..."No flogging! She has such good skin! My son may not like it. Let us forgive her for now. She is young...Child, you're engaged now! Soon you'll be the light of our house! Submit to the rules of a married woman and cease with this nonsense immediately! You will be loved and appreciated, as long as ylu submit. You are a woman, remember. My Rachid likes to be listened to. He had divorced his first wife for an insult smaller than yours, and his second wife was a liar. Now, you're the third. Honour him, honour his name, bare his children, be always ready for him, and let him find his rest and pleasure in you everytime he needs or requires. Blessed is the woman who dies as a married woman, and not as divorced!"...the mother in law added, making Amira tremble on the inside of anger snd disgust and fear. Fear of ending up in such a house. Fear of becoming a breeder and a slave. A few tears fell on her face, and the in law interpreted that as repeantence and smiled, and told her to sit by her, holding her by the hand from time to time.
The party was loud, and the young women started dancing. Amira refused to dance, saying that she has a string migrene, saying that she would have been happy to fly on the dance floor with the other girls, especially that her sisters in law were dancing as well, but she would only make a fool kf herself, as the migreen leeps her from seeing well.
"Oh! Poor child! We were hard on you! Go to your room and rest. Let us forget what you said tonight, as if it had bever been said. We will return in 5 days for the wedding. You will be the most beautiful bride. Rachid will be pleased. I am pleased, so he will be pleased as well." The mother in law added before leaving.
Amira went to her room angry. "I gotta get out of here!" She said, in a very low voice, grinning her teeth.