“You look beautiful.” My mother said with tears in her eyes for what seemed like the thousandth time, over the laughs and sounds of excitement of my family and friends that surrounded me. I think she thought that looking beautiful on my wedding day would be all the assurance I’d need.
“Thank you.” I replied with the only words I’d been saying since I had been decorated like an object.
“It’s going to be OK.” She said sensing the worry gnawing at me.
I wanted to ask how she would know that. How she could be so sure that everything would be OK, when I was entering a contract that stated that I was to be bound to a complete stranger for the rest of my life. How could she be sure that I would be happy?
But I knew the answer I would get. She’d smile at me and say, “Sweetheart! Everyone gets married! It’s nothing to be afraid of.” And in a way, there wasn’t. I wasn’t being forced into this marriage. My parents had asked me if there was anyone in my life beforehand. I had replied honestly with a negative answer. I had never been in love.
The only ambition in my life was to do something great, for others to look up to me, love me and respect me for me, and not because I was someone’s daughter, particularly my dad’s daughter who was a well-known businessman. And I had succeeded. Along with my regular job, I had volunteered as a teacher for a school for special children. I had started out nervous. I had always been a shy person, but something about those kids had opened me up. And I was loved and looked up to, without condition, only because I was kind to the kids who were used to being ridiculed. Who could’ve known that it was that easy, to only be respectful to gain respect, to only love to be loved?
But standing in front of the mirror dressed as a bride, I wasn’t so sure. Would it be enough for him? Our parents were the ones who had arranged this marriage and I trusted that my parents would make the right choice, but had he agreed to his parents’ decision as wholeheartedly as I had? Or did he want something else in life; something that being with me couldn’t give him?
My parents had thought that it would be a good idea for us to meet up before the actual wedding day. They wanted to give be a chance to get to know him but I had always told them that I trusted their decision and judgement and I saw no need for it. My brother had assured me that he had had a word with him, telling him what would happen to him if something happened to me, his fault or not. I grinned at that thought, but then grew nervous again. Because right at that moment, I thought that maybe a meeting or two would’ve given me an idea of what to expect. Maybe then it wouldn’t have felt like I was walking into the unknown, as dramatic as that sounded. But it was too late now.
“It’s time to get going!” My younger sister screamed in excitement. My sisters, cousins and friends were supposed to walk with me through the aisle, to him. They all gathered around me, fighting that whom would get to stand next to me. They all seemed so happy, so excited. I wished I could feel the same, anything but this nervousness that was eating me.
A couple of minutes after jokingly shoving each other around, they settled. My mother kissed me on the forehead before opening the door so we could exit. My dad stood outside. He just smiled at me and squeezed my shoulder. If I thought that it was possible to be more nervous than I was, I’d say that he was. I smiled back at him before we walked to the hall where all the guests were waiting for us. Not for my sake, but for his.
My heart thudded loudly. I felt that if it didn’t calm down, I would definitely have a heart attack. I was sure I would have vomited if I had been able to eat anything for the past two days. I was now grateful that I couldn’t.
I kept my head down, afraid to look up. Afraid to look at him. Afraid of what I might see. But half way through the aisle I decided that it was time to face my fears. Maybe his fears were similar to mine. After all, I too was as much as a stranger to him as was to me.
I couldn’t avoid this any longer, considering that I was about to get married to the reason of my near-heart-attack condition. I had to look up.
So I gathered all my strength, prayed for more and finally lifted my gaze. My eyes fell upon him. He was just standing there waiting. But when I looked into his eyes, I knew.
His eyes had a shine to them, and he stood there with a smile. We wasn’t just smiling, he was smiling at me. And in that moment I knew that everything would be OK. That we might not know each other, but we will soon enough. That we could work through whatever problems that were thrown our way. That he would be always there for me. That he will be OK.
It was ridiculous to believe how a smile could promise so much. And it was more ridiculous to believe it. But I did. I believed that we would be fine. That yes, he might be a stranger but he is also my husband. I found myself smiling at him back.
And I smiled him back with a hope that my smile would promise him what he has smiled for.
(A11123813002) AINST [Dual]