Monday, November 5, 2007

Our First Wedding Cake!

It's not what you think. It's hard to believe it happened. And it's pretty freaking ridiculous.

Saturday afternoon, we were excited to dress up (which meant a skirt-turned dress for me & a tucked-in shirt and belt for Eric) & make the 5 minute trek over to Esther's house. Her brother was getting married...a cultural experience we had not partaken in yet.

So we go around 4:00 (1 hour past the original invite time of 3:00; we had been told to wait a while as people weren't showing up yet). We get seated, of course, in special chairs...almost everyone else sitting in benches. We get brought local porridge (Eric's description of it as "warm puke" was unfortunately fitting) in ceramic mugs, everyone else's plastic, and eat dinner amidst the toilet-paper covered banana trees, serving as posts to hold up the tent (coffee-drying fabrics), subtle African grooves playing in the background. It looked beautiful & we were happy to be there; the only question was where are the bride & groom...

...a question that lingered on for about 4 hours. It was so odd to be celebrating this occasion without the guests of honor present. Well, around 8:00 they showed up, and walked around the tent to some not-so-subtle (to be honest, it never was) music. But wait a second, why does the bride look so sad? She never looked up, only at the ground, as they walked together. We even started to wonder if she was disabled because she really didn't seem like she knew what was going on, & it seemed that people were helping her walk. We had heard that her parents didn't approve of the marriage, so maybe she had been arguing/struggling to leave her house all day?

Well, that question had to remain unanswered for a while. In the meantime, we "muzungus" were thanked for being there (why we're VIPs is hard to understand), a goat was brought out to basically pay the dowery to the wife's family, and we were told that when the cake was cut, we were welcome to have some. Or so we thought.

The knife is brought out, the 3 cakes put onto plates, and in a blur Eric and I are placed on either side of the bride & groom (he by the groom and me by the bride..note the use of "bride" and "groom" as an indication that we don't even know their names). We are told to place our hands on theirs & help them cut the cake! WHAT???????!!!!!!!!!! I felt SOOOO bad b/c I was just CRACKING UP laughing~I couldn't help it! I kept looking at Eric & he just looked so confused. It was totally surreal...sad too b/c this all happened b/c we're white & they wanted to have us in their pictures, but just super super surreal & hilarious.

As for the bride, it turns out that she didn't want to be married, not at that time, not to that man. That is why she looked SOOO sad. Gosh, to know that hurts. The next day at church, I wondered how many women had that experience as their reality.

We had a lot of laughs, and the cake was good, but I'm not sure if this young woman tasted it.


Les said...

I thought you were going to say the party was for you two as a surprise. Sounds strange..sure hope it works out for them!

Anonymous said...

This is too funny!
Thanks for my first smile of the day!