was in a happy daze when Sara and Nura lowered the dress
over my head and shoulders and fastened the delicate buttons
around my waist.
moment of sadness came as Nura draped Kareem's gift of
rubies and diamonds around my neck. I could not escape the
image of my mother on the sad day of Sara's wedding when I
had sat as a child on the floor and watched her fasten the
unwanted jewels around the neck of Sara. It had been only
two short years ago, yet it seemed another life, another
Sultana. I shed my gloom and smiled when I realized Mother
must be watching me from a great distance with a satisfied
glow in her eyes. I could barely breathe in the tight bodice
as I leaned down to pick up a bouquet of spring flowers made
entirely of precious stones, especially designed for the
occasion by Sara.
into my sisters' smiling faces, I announced, "I am
was time for my new beginning, another life.
beating of the drums drowned out the orchestra imported from
Egypt. With Nura on one side and Sara on the other, I made
my proud appearance to the expectant guests, waiting
impatiently in the garden.
with all Saudi weddings, the official ceremony had been
conducted earlier. With Kareem and his family in one part of
the palace and I and my family in another, the religious
sheikh had gone from room to room, asking us if we accepted
the other. Kareem and I had not been allowed to say our
words of promise in the other's presence.
four days and nights our family had been celebrating. The
celebration would continue another three days and nights
after our appearance before our female guests. Tonight's
ceremony was merely a stage created for the lovers to bask
in the beauty of observance of youth and hope. Our night of