TraditionA Story by lrigD
It was wrong, so wrong. But what could I do to change it?
"Mama, I'm scared." The little girl looked at me with large eyes, her pupils wide with fear, and not for the first time I felt my heart constrict.
"I know, sweetie." It was wrong; it was so wrong that it raised goosebumps on my skin and made me want to vomit. I wish I had the strength to take my little girl and run away, away from this painful tradition; this tradition with no positive outcome.
She was only six... my little girl, the one I had painstakingly carried nine months while on the run, while loving and hating: my entire life. And now I had to give her away to a tradition so ancient, so backwards that it made me want to scream out loud and pull out my hair in despair.
Six... six years, and yet, so wise in her own way. A world of wisdom would be lost for her... in a few days, she'd be so scared she wouldn't know what to do... and then, in a few years, she wouldn't remember how it was before, she'd only know the pain and fear. And maybe, in a few decades, she would experience the same pain I was feeling right now. I wished for her to be able to get away, but my hopes were not up. The man she was going with wasn't known as particularly evil, but I knew all too well that this was no trustworthy reputation. Hadn't the same thing happened to me?
I took my little girl in my arms one more time, hugging her tightly, wishing that I could somehow save her from this ridiculous tradition. It was wrong, it only brought despair and I couldn't bring myself to put her back on the ground.
Only now did I understand the conflict of emotions I had seen in my own mother's eyes when it had been my time to leave. My mother had masked the pain well; instead, her face had mostly spoken of pride. But in her eyes, there had been fear, pain, anger... everything I was feeling now.
There was no pride in this action. Growing up, I hadn't seen the alternatives, but now, with my own little girl, the alternatives seemed infinitely better than the choice I was making now.
But it was no choice, was it? No, it was a dictate, forced upon me by centuries of tradition, centuries of standing still in a changing world; and this was the result. Little girls growing up without love, and for what?
I couldn't do it. I was still hugging, the men were looking at me with a look of dismay, as if they were saying I was too emotional; of course, they had seen this a thousand times before, with every mother, every daughter. I wondered for a short moment whether they were affected at all.
And then I made my choice.
I whispered into my girl's hair: "I love you." And then I ran. She was on my arms, in my embrace, powerless to do anything but go along.
And I ran. Faster than I had ever run before, faster than during any of the runs I took when I was frustrated. But there was no tiredness, no out-of-breath inhaling and exhaling. I was exhilarated. Adrenaline flowed through my veins and through all of that was a sense of immense relief when the men didn't go after me.
I knew this action would change my life, and my daughter's. As pariahs we would have to live in this country where we'd lived peacefully so far. We had defied a tradition; there was no going back from that.
I hoped it was worth it.
© 2010 lrigD