had not seen Kareem since the day of our first meeting.
Our courtship had continued, nonetheless, by long hours of
playful telephone conversation. Now I watched Kareem,
escorted by his father, walk slowly toward the pavilion. He
was so handsome, and he was going to be my husband.
some odd reason, I was fascinated with the beating of his
heart. I watched the tremor of movement in his throat and
counted the beats. My imagination swept me into his chest,
to that powerful spot of romance, and I thought: This heart
is mine. I, alone, have the power to make it beat with
happiness or with misery. It was a sobering moment for a
he stood tall and straight before me; I was suddenly
overcome with emotion. I felt my lips tremble and my eyes
water as I fought against the urge to weep. When Kareem
removed my face cover, we both burst out laughing, our
emotion and joy were so intense. The audience of women began
to applaud loudly and stamp their feet. In Saudi Arabia, it
is rare that a bride and groom find such obvious pleasure in
was drowning in Kareem's eyes and he in mine. I was overcome
with the emotion of disbelief. I had been a child of
darkness, and my new husband, instead of being the expected
object of dread, was sweet freedom from the misery of my
to be alone, we lingered only a short while after the
ceremony to receive the congratulations of our female
friends and relatives. Kareem threw gold coins from small
velvet bags toward various groups of merry guests while I
slipped away to change into traveling clothes.
wanted to speak with my father, but he had hurried from the
garden the moment his role was complete. His mind was
relieved; his youngest and most troublesome daughter of his
first wife was now safely wed and no longer his
responsibility. I ached with the desire for a bond between
us that had been in my dreams but never broke into reality.