She is young, uncomfortably so. This is because today she is beautiful, and been made to look so by the hands of professionals. Her hair has been neatly combed into a bun behind her head, her skin caked many shades lighter, and her cheeks painted red by a paste made of beetroots and cherry skins. She is only twelve, but carries the strain of fatigue with grace. It seems she’s only half aware of what is happening; lacking the years required to know consequence.
She sits still, surrounded by a pregnant silence akin to that of a forgotten gallery. Around and about her people push passed each other to catch a glimpse of the bride. They whisper, commenting on the softness of her features, and the innocence of her face. She casts her eyes downwards as she knows is the custom; and keeps them so throughout the ceremony, the ensuing celebrations, and the march towards the bedroom.
There is where her resolve begins to falter. She shivers. They tell her to tilt her head, to raise one knee, and rest her hands gently above it. She does as told, scanning the room for a familiar face. There is none. And so she retreats, into herself like a flower folding to winter’s touch.
Strangely, there is something heartbreakingly beautiful about the scene. A child on the threshold of adulthood, poised as if she were a classical painting; one for small men with big dreams to look upon and feel a little less inadequate and a lot more profound.