It was a beautiful wedding. Mami had never felt so proud as a mother. Her oldest daughter was getting married today! She was marrying a good man, his father owned grocery stores and he was studying to become a lawyer of some sort. The old church building had been transformed into a beautiful paradise of pink and white flowers. The women had stayed up all night arranging the bouquets and draping. The wooden floor was polished to a mirror that morning and the smell of potpourri filled the hall.
Everyone had made an effort to dress up; even Mami who was usually in dull drapery was wearing a form fitting green dress and her greying hair was in a lovely braided bun. Sari and her boy cousin Tio were both 6 years old. They were given the very important duty of throwing confetti down the aisle before the bride came, but that was about their only involvement in the wedding. Once they had completed their confetti throwing task, a young bridesmaid led them away to sit in one of the pews in front. Within minutes of sitting Tio grew restless. He looked across to his friend Phepi and he was also just as restless, his plump mother constantly hissing at him to sit still and be quiet. The boys communicated with their eyes and a few seconds later, Tio and Phepi were both going to the “toilet”.
Sari was bored. She fiddled with the lace on her dress and then the bow in her hair and then she went on the ground and started drawing shapes on the floor with her saliva. She decided to write her name and prepared to spit out a big glob of saliva when an older woman relative, with very bright lipstick on, saw her just as the glob was about to hit the floor. The woman made a reprimanding face and shook her head. Sari had to pull back the saliva into her mouth. She got up and sat back on the pew in shame. She was really really bored now. A few minutes later she got up and went looking for the boys. She found them in the small church garden near the statue of a woman carrying a baby in her arms. They had their jackets off and were kneeling in the garden looking down at something but she could not see what it was. She climbed onto the small garden behind them.
“What are you doing here?” Phepi asked in a not very friendly tone.
“I was bored inside. What are you guys doing?” Sari replied.
“Nothing.” Said Phepi and then he chuckled.
Phepi was 2 years older than Sari and Tio and he was a bit of a bully. Sari hated it whenever they played with him, but they couldn’t always get away from him because he lived across the street from them. Sari craned her neck and stood on her toes to see what the boys were doing. They had marbles and they were taking turns to aim them at a worm on a long leaf on one of the plants. Sari loved marbles. She especially loved the ones that looked like they had toothpaste inside. She wanted to play.
“Can I also play marbles?” Sari asked.
“No you cannot play, you are a girl. Go away and play with your hair or something!” Phepi responded while he waved at her to go away.
“Tio can I play?” Tio always played with her when they were at home.
Tio shrugged his shoulders and before he could say anything Phepi was on his feet and yelling at Sari to go away.
Sari became glassy eyed and Tio stood up and held out his hand. There were three marbles in it.
“Here Sari, you can play with these.”
“But not with us, go and play over there!” Phepi said.
When the adults finally came out of the church the kids were still playing outside, however, Sari was playing alone on the other side of the small garden. Phepi’s mother called for him and when she saw him she started to complain about how dirty he was. The three children jumped out of the garden and other mothers started to add on to the complaints. When Mami saw Sari, she was livid.
“Sari!” She yelled and climbed angrily down the stairs, arms swinging. She clutched her purse under her arm and grabbed Sari by the wrist. “Tio, go to the car this instant.” Mami ordered, but Sari was dragged behind the church building and given a hiding.
“Look at what you did to your beautiful cream white dress! Your hair is a mess!” Mami yelled as she beat the child.
“But what about Tio and Phepi… they made their clothes dirty too…” Sari cried.
“You are not a boy Sari, and you need to get that into your head right now! How dare you disgrace me at your big sister’s wedding?”