I’m ushered into the dimly lit room. On all four walls hang exquisitely decorated costumes. They tell me the bride made all of these herself. That’s a lot of work for one person to do. We are motioned to sit down on the carpet. I can smell the pungent odor of lamb fat, sweat, and cheap perfume all around me. It reminds me of the bazaars and the metro, where people are clustered together, the murmur of life whirling all around. The door creaks open and the bride comes in. Her eyes are downcast, and I notice how dismal she looks. This is her wedding day, why is her face so mournful? I remember the horror stories of wicked Uzbek mother-in-laws who make the brides cook and clean for their new families. Sometimes these families have up to twelve people! I would never be able to do that, washing the clothes and doing the dishes for my husband’s family every day of my life. As the bride does the usual rituals, her eyes remain downcast and I wonder what is going through her mind right now. This marriage was arranged, I hear. Does she know what kind of man she is to marry? Is she scared? It is a big commitment, marriage is. I don’t think I would jump into it so quickly as some people do. It would take me a lot to get married. I read a book recently related to marriage, called the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It was by Anne Bronte, the shadowed sister of the Bronte Trio. I always feel sorry for Anne; I think she’s better than her sisters. Her book is burned into my mind. After reading that book, I don’t want to get married. There may be great happiness in marriage, but there may also be great misery. The risk is great. Such a big commitment to make: to be bound to someone for life through all the changes it brings. The bride continues to bow towards the women sitting around her. I find it sad because this is a picture of what her life will be like from tomorrow on. She will be the submissive slave catering to the every whim of her husband and mother-in-law. No matter where she goes, she must have both their permissions. And things can still get worse. I remember hearing stories of women who get divorced by their husbands bbecause they aren’t pregnant within a year or because they haven’t had any sons yet. A shudder comes over me as I think about the power wielded over these poor Uzbek women. The bride still bows.
May 8, 2012