I paused, the groom? Why didn’t I see the groom before! Among the people who came earlier, none of them looked like a groom. Did he come later? I wanted to ask, but no one was talking in the room.
Even my father didn’t say anything when I left the house. The silence was frightening. I could only see the small patch of ground around my feet, because the veil on my head isolated me from my surroundings.
“We’re leaving the house, the groom be careful of the threshold!” I had just reached the yard when I heard the voice of that old lady behind me. I panicked, a blind man! I’m marrying a blind man! Or why would that old lady warn him about the threshold! I bit my lip hard. Although I knew from the start there was something wrong with the marriage my father arranged, I didn’t think it would be a blind man.
Whatever, let him be blind. That’s even better, because getting a divorce would be easier! I let out a breath, and Granny Liu reminded me it’s time to get in the carriage. This was really a traditional wedding, but I wasn’t in a mood to enjoy all this.
After getting into the carriage, Granny Liu whispered into my ear: “Zhaodi, this veil must be taken off by the groom at his family. Don’t take it off yourself, it’s not lucky.
I nodded, and after a while the carriage was lifted up, and set somewhere else firmly1 . I felt like I was on a car, so when it was moving at a constant speed I lifted up an edge of the veil, and found that they had put the carriage in some sort of truck. The good thing was that the truck was open, the ones where there isn’t a roof. The truck rolled forward slowly.
The wind was blowing, occasionally lifting up the curtains of the carriage. This was a small town, so we didn’t meet a lot of cars on the way. But the sound coming from behind wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was because I was too far away and couldn’t hear clearly, but I’m sure it was music, and the kind of a flute. It didn’t sound like a tune you would play on a happy occasion, but rather one usually heard on funerals.
Out of curiousity, I couldn’t help sticking my head out, lifting the veil and searching for the sound. Only when I looked did I get a fright, because not far behind me, I saw people in a car continuously throwing out white paper money, covering the whole road! The sound came from the trunk of that car. My heart started beating faster.
What was going on? Wasn’t paper money only for the dead? And that funeral music was sounding very creepy in the darkness of night. The wind was cold, almost icy! It penetrated down to my bones, and I suppressed the urge to scream while watching the paper money thrown out by the car behind.
I pulled my head back into the carriage, feeling uneasy. What’s going on, what’s this all about? I repeated this sentence continuously to myself that I didn’t even notice when the truck stopped, until Granny Liu called from outside: “Zhaodi, don’t fall asleep, we’re here.”
The carriage was lifted up again, and then set on the ground.
“The groom has brought the bride home! Kick the carriage door2 !” Once the voice of the old lady stopped, a gush of wind blew into the carriage. Based on the patch of light besides my feet, the curtain of the carriage must have been lifted up by someone.
I couldn’t see, so I didn’t know what the person I’m marrying looks like, but I felt afraid. The fear came from deep inside my heart, and although I tried my best to make myself look normal, my body was shaking. I didn’t know if anyone noticed.
Granny Liu guided me off the carriage and into the house. It was basically the same like on television. I walked through the door, stepped over the brazier, and Granny Liu called out, “The bride is here, the bride is here!” Although she was shouting, I felt like there wasn’t many people in the room; it was very quiet.
“First bow, to the sky and the earth!”
As soon as she finished speaking, Granny Liu turned me around, making me face the doorway I just entered from, and I bowed stiffly.
“Second bow, to the parents!” Now that I knew the direction, I turned back around until Granny Liu told me to stop, and bowed slightly.
“Third bow, husband and wife!”
I turned around, and just like before, bowed down slightly. But before I could get up, a sound like an old clock chimed in the room, the chime vibrating in the room, twice! The clock struck twice, does that mean it’s two in the morning? When I thought about this time, my whole body felt cold.
The chiming stopped, and I was about to get up when I heard a cock crow right in front of me! It was very loud, and stunned me for a moment. Granny Liu, who was guiding me, also stiffened. I came back to my senses and pulled off the veil.
What I saw, was that right in front of me, stood a big rooster! The rooster stared at me almost meaningfully, and I looked at it, my mouth dropping open in incredulity……
1. It’s the type of carriage that doesn’t have wheels and is carried by people. In ancient China, the bride is always carried to the groom’s house in one of these carriages.↩
2. Kicking the carriage door is a tradition and symbol of luck in Chinese traditional weddings.↩