The other day, a box arrived at my house. It was a familiar box, one that I had left back in Florida. But strangely, I remembered it being bigger than it really was. And I looked at the box, thinking that maybe what I knew was in there really wasn’t. Maybe, just maybe, the sender would have replaced the contents with something else. One can be wishful.
But I knew what lay inside. Before moving back to Houston, I packed up my life of four years into countless boxes and shipped them home. Those things didn’t matter much to me, for if they got lost, I wouldn’t be sad. But there was just one box that I could not bear to part with.
Our box of wedding clothes. I had gingerly placed them together. His sherwani. My sari. My lehanga. All folded neatly, the fabrics caressing one another. Silk over satin. And I sealed it shut, locking away memories of a life gone too fast. And I left the box with my cousin, knowing that if it got lost in the mail, I would be devastated.
Fast-forward to the present.
And so the box stayed on my living room floor for a few days. I told my mom to put it away when I wasn’t home, because I didn’t think I could handle it. But a few days later, I was overcome with this strange urge to look inside.
I sat on the floor, and ripped open the tape securing it together. And my mom gasped.
“NO! Don’t open the box. You said you couldn’t handle it.”
Apparently, I was wrong. I think my mom just couldn’t stand the thought of me breaking down. But as I got out the clothes, I could see her staring at me from the corner of my eyes.
And I pulled out the contents, slowly. My fingers touched the clothes. And I smiled. Simply smiled. When the pain ceases, the smiles brighten.
It’ll be nice if Safiyah marries a tall man, like I did. That way, he too, can wear the same clothes that her dad did on his wedding day.