(These appear in their respective chapters in the book.)
I rode in the front seat of the camion with the young bride who had been forced to leave her mother. She dried her eyes to see the boy who had fallen off the truck and died, but the bright moonshine was spotty, and his cracked head had been covered up with fronds.
When we arrived at her husband's village, a generator churned. Music played on crackly speakers while hanging bulbs shook yellow light upon children circling her bags.
I don't remember sleeping. I don't remember going home, but I remember that the fledgling bride never ceased her weeping.
On a busy morning in Nairobi, I was married. Inside the Sharia courthouse, we waited with witnesses along the narrow second-floor hall for the marriage room to open. It had red carpet—rolling at the corners and the edges—and plastic flowers on the black metal desk where we signed papers carefully written on an old typewriter.
After a champagne lunch, I returned to work and led a meeting wearing heavy eyeliner and a brand-new ring.
Then we celebrated. We served spiced lamb, rosewater cake, and wine. We were blessed by a henna-haired Somali man wearing a safari-logo vest.
My husband's sister's wedding was incredible. The bride and groom entered the hotel hall with music blasting, lights flashing across the disco floor, a smoke machine, spotlight, mirror ball, and confetti blown in all directions.
She was styled, sculpted: dark hair up, dark eyes lit with pink shadows, posture straight and beautiful. She wore diamonds and emerald teardrops around her face, treasures that came in a flat black velvet box from the mother of her husband, that had caused her to weep in the sunlight of the morning, that would one day be passed down to her own daughter.
Image: “Hole.” Trayle Kulshan. 2009. Digital photograph. © 2017.