Scarring Jasmine-Chapter Eight Wedding

05/03/2024 Friday 50-68F Cloudy

Finally, Jasmine was engaged to Yu, and their wedding day was decided: It would be one and a half years later, one month after Yu’s graduation.

Bai agreed to that date because he wanted to have enough time to prepare Jasmine’s dowry, as luxurious as he could afford: Four seasons’ silk clothes, embroidered shoes, jewelries, antiques, beddings, furniture…So nobody in Wang’s family would look down on her, and the others could shut their gossipy mouths from saying that Bai family were snobs.

“Gee, I almost spent all the money I have on Jasmine’s dowry!” Bai finished his calculation on the abacus, exclaiming. “The fabric business is particularly bad this year; we should be more careful about our daily expenses.”

“You always worry too much!” Shen remarked, “We have already trimmed down all the cost. Last year Mumei had a daughter, we even didn’t host a birth party for her. Until now Gao still complains about this to Mumei, saying that we are biased parents. To make her shut up, yesterday I squeezed out some money to let her buy one pair of leather shoes for which she had longed for a long time.”

Shen continued: “Women are long-haired yet short-sighted! Wang’s family have been generous to us too. Look at the betrothal gifts from them! Besides, in the past eighteen months, their gifts for each festival always arrived first; they never missed any member of our family! As a sister-in-law, she should feel happy for Jasmine, rather than complaining about the elders! If she is too young to understand, you should have taught her!” 

“Yes, I will, don’t get angry.” Shen tried to calm Bai. “But somehow that young man Yu looked like a cold fish all the time; even at the engagement party, I could feel that he retained some sort of distance other than his politeness. It concerned me. Wasn’t he content with this marriage?”

“It is absurd! Stop assuming anything!” Bai stood up, “That is his dignity. He was born in that kind of family, is a college student, and handsome, of course he is proud. Remember, he and Shanyuan are different.”

“I don’t want to argue with you, it is pointless.” Shen rolled her eyes. “But one thing you are definitely correct about: How can a man be that pretty? I thought that our Jasmine was fair enough, but when I compared her to Yu on the engagement day, I was surprised to see that she didn’t overshadow him at all. They were like two apricot blossoms: The figures, the faces, all just perfectly matched. What a beautiful couple!” 

Finally, Bai agreed with what Shen said. He was quite fond of his future son-in-law. When he decided to give up on Shanyuan, he never had expected that he would be compensated by another excellent young man, who was equally intelligent, polite, and even had better looks. Perhaps Yu did look a little cold and delicate, and was shorter than Shanyuan in height, but it was what was, a man had to be realistic.

While Jasmine was cutting a piece of fabric in her room, Gao snuck in. 

“Wow, nice material!” Gao’s hands ran across the fabric, “Are you going to make clothes with it?” 

Jasmine put down the scissor and offered her sister-in-law a stool to sit. “Yes. Two weeks later will be our aunt’s birthday, mother asked me to make one dress for her.” 

Gao puckered her mouth: “Mother-in-law is too much of a pennypincher. How much money can she save by letting you do this? You will get married next month; you should take some rest and relax.” 

Jasmine smiled: “It isn’t about saving money. Mother said that she found nothing good to buy as the birthday gift. In fact, I like to do cutting and sewing.” 

“Shhh,” Gao stopped her, “don’t say that. All the work will be yours if your future in-laws hear it. My mother told me this before I was married.”

After saying that, Gao immediately regretted her words. So, she changed the topic and showed Jasmine her new black leather shoes: “I just bought them yesterday; they were made with real calf skin. Do you like them? You can ask mother-in-law to buy one pair for you as well. You look too plain, not like a girl who will be a bride soon. And look,” the sister-in-law pulled Jasmine’s sleeve, “your sleeves are worn!” 

It was the same white dress which she wore on the farewell day with Shanyuan; that night’s moonlight was still on it. Jasmine sighed, “I like this dress.”

Gao shrugged, “If I were you, I would take great advantage of Wang’s family. I heard people say that they are very wealthy.” Then she lowered her voice and winked at Jasmine: “Do you know whom I saw yesterday in the shoe shop? Guess? It was your fiancé, Yu Wang. He must have come back from Beijing for the coming wedding. He didn’t see me; I doubt if he knows who I am. He was with a crowd of shopping ladies who seemed like his families or relatives and dressed in the latest fashion! Yu stood in the crowd just watching, looked so aloof as if he shouldn’t have belonged there. I saw all the other girls turn their heads glancing at him, but obviously he was on his own. He is an icy beauty, covered with mountains of snow. You’d better prepare for it.”

Jasmine didn’t say anything. She only saw Yu once, which was on their engagement day. It was a great party, she spent most of her time sitting on her seat letting rounds of the guests come to see her and make comments about her; she knew that her role was for exhibition. About whom and where her fiancé was, she had no idea until her mother whispered in her ear. She darted several quick glances at that man in white, of medium height, seemed thinner and paler than Shanyuan. Later he came to her house two or three times on festival days, but her father didn’t allow her to meet him—Even though she was his legal fiancée, they were still unmarried. According to the tradition, keeping their distance also meant keeping her pride. She heard people praise his handsomeness but wasn’t interested. All she cared was, he was selected by her parents and would be her husband.

From her father, she knew that Shanyuan had left for Paris one year before. She didn’t know how far it was from Suzhou to Paris; most likely all her life she wouldn’t go that far. Was he happy there? Would he come back? She didn’t know the answers; why should she? Next month she would be married, be someone’s wife. After that, she should completely forget about him, and give her whole to that “someone”.

Then came Jasmine’s wedding day. Since dawn, the entire house was busy and crowded: Shen got up very early, spent her whole morning standing in the yard giving instructions to the servants and maids. Wang’s wedding gifts arrived during breakfast, eighty eight red and gold large trunks, which took up the entire yard and almost half of the front street. Everyone was amazed upon seeing them: “Wow! The Wang family is so generous!” 

Later came the hairdresser and her four assistants. She complimented Bai and Shen on their great luck to marry the daughter into Wang’s family; however, when she saw the bride, she was awestruck: “This young lady must be a fairy from heaven! In the past thirty years I have combed nearly one thousand ladies’ hair; this is absolutely the most radiant one! Wang’s youngest son must have gotten God’s grace; he will make all men in this county jealous!”

Everyone in the room laughed. While combing the bride’s hair, the hairdresser prayed:

“The first combing, may your marriage have a happy ending;

The second combing, may you own sons and grandchildren;

The last combing, may your life be long and enjoyable.”

In the early afternoon, right after the bride was dressed up, Wang’s bridal sedan chair was delivered. Jasmine walked out of her room: She wore red silk clothes inside and outside, embroidered in gold thread with all-over auspicious totems such as phoenix, peonies, and pomegranates. Her hair accessories were made in gold and mounted with precious stones, weighing at least four pounds in total on her head. Each of her movements would bring elaborate jingles from her luxurious pure gold jewelry all around her ears, neck and arms. 

Jasmine knelt down, kowtowed to her parents to express her great gratitude for them to raise her. Shen cried at Jasmine: “My dear daughter, you have been with your parents for twenty years; now you are grown and are leaving your home. How can we bear this separation?! Please always remember your parents; we are getting old; we will miss you every day. Do come back to see us often!”

Bai sat straight on a chair, speaking in his usual serious tone but somehow sounding lonesome: “Jasmine, from now on you are a married woman. You should devote yourself to your new family, take good care of your parents-in-law and husband; their needs will be your priority. You should always be obedient, diligent, and raise children. Only when you can do these, your mother and I will be delighted.” 

Jasmine bid yes; her eyes were full of tears. Gao called out: “Don’t cry, or your makeup will be stained!” Shen shot Gao a stern look to silence her.

A red cloth covered Jasmine’s head. She was led to the sedan. Carried by eight men, the sedan chair hurried off, heading for Wang’s house. Someone lit firecrackers. Sitting in the sedan Jasmine still could hear her mother’s cry; as she went further, that cry lowered and eventually disappeared. Left in her ears were the sounds of drum beating, firecrackers crackling, and people’s acclaim rising and falling along the street.

Followed by her dowry team which extended three miles, she married into Wang’s house. The local people said that it was the greatest wedding they ever saw.


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