The Ring and the Pen

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Silver saris and raging reds of glamorously decorated individuals beamed with faces masked with makeup and jewelry. Twinkling yellow lights hung above her head like shimmering stars and breathed pure radiance over her. Standing before the myriad of wedding colors, she saw herself at the pinnacle of her life’s journey, a complete asset to her parent’s pride and a pretty art piece for hundreds to stare at. In eager hopes of a new and promised life, she stood on stage and stared into the eyes of the stranger her family had chosen for her. In that moment, she was a product of celebration and a symbol of success for her parents to prove to our community that they had fulfilled their duty. In the eyes of the audience that lay before her, she was now well taken care of, complete: sixteen and married.

Her youthful smile hid behind the painted red of her lips; her arms masked themselves under henna designs and the rich golden embroidery of her veil. Yesterday I had witnessed her hands doodling on scrappy pages of a notebook, today; I looked upon them decorated with the shimmer of a diamond ring. With the power of one wedding band, our small community’s social hierarchy escalated her position far above mine. Her whisper of “I do”...

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