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Under my Shroud (Paradox)
by Patricia Etienne

I ducked my way in through the back door, while my parents didn't have any clue- that I had been out of the house. The small clock from the kitchenette table said six o'clock in the afternoon, and the sun was long gone to sleep under the clouds. Besides, in my village most people would go to bed a little after sundown. I figured there was nothing of interest to do, so I got into bed. I began to mesmerize my sweet moment spent with zutha earlier today. It felt so good as though my heart played the side show of high and low. Behind the string window, my eyes stumbled upon a shooting star in the sky, so I shifted to my side. I closed my eyes so tight, and made a wish. Silly as it may sound, but I wish for my single-minded papa to start seeing things through a different shade of lights. The star faded away, and suddenly reality hit me. I then realized, papa had been molded in the pantheon of religious gods, and pre-arranged marriage's establishment. His whole ancestors had gone through it- how in the heck could my silly wish possibly change his mind? In a long one, I should continue by playing powder in the blue eyes. I guess?

I woke up with my head still swelled up with love and fantasies the following day. As usual, I would help Mama with domestic shore around the house. However, this particular morning, I wanted to be like a typical nineteen-year-old American girl— in a summer morning. My inside wanted to be connected to the outside world. It felt like a battle of my inner ego versus my outer ego. Only the outer ego is not able to solve any problem on a conscious basis- huff, either way I'm doomed.

“My daughter, are you alright?

—I'm alright Mama.

—oh every single night, I pray to Allah that you will never twist any rule.

—uh-oh.. Mama, Mama! I will never do that mama-a.

—My daughter, you my only set of eyes. It's my duty to protect you.

—then my daughter, you do know the circumstances, if you got caught cheating the rules uh?

—I know that Mama.

—again my daughter, I pray that you wouldn't do anything to annoy your papa.

—No Mama!

—Good! Now, grab the bucket and help me fetch water from the fountain please.”

Phew! That was an awkward conversation. For a minute, I thought I was being caught in the act. I heard my heart thumping so hard, and it felt as if it was jumping out of my chest cavity. Seriously, just the thought of subject to penalties; I had all rights to feel fear. Still, that didn't change the fact that, I would like to dismantle some of these oppressive rules someday.

Just when I finished filling up the last vase with water; I heard a thump, then quickly followed by a sound of a clearing throat behind my head, so I turned back.

—“Young lady, I want you to wear your best abaya outfit this afternoon. Your in-laws are coming over for dinner.

—Good morning Papa-a.

—Yes Papa!

Meanwhile, Mama was a few feet away from me, watering the plants. Papa looked over at her. He then shouted.

—hey woman, prepare good food. We have guest over, and make sure you look presentable.

—yes my husband” and she bowed her head down, along with her entire body.

At that point, my heart was full of loathing. Knowing that I would be dining and wining with a group of people, whom I have no desire of seeing. Then even worst, considering the fact, that I would be making love with a stranger someday. Better yet, I could play devil advocate by over salt the beef biriyani. That could unravel- to a like mother, like daughter lineage. Great! (...)

Note from author: please see ' Under my Shroud ' part- I.

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