A 21st Century Arranged Marriage
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A 21st Century Arranged Marriage

I knew it existed, but not to my friends so close to home....

A 21st Century Arranged Marriage
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“Guys and girls just don’t talk to each other. You can’t be friends with a guy, and you certainly can’t touch him. Holding hands is scandalous- you might as well get engaged.”

I’d heard of such things, but just a day’s drive from my own house?

I was sitting on the concrete floor of a little cinderblock building. Over 60 girls were packed like sardines around me, their faces visible only by the dim glow of a couple of bare lightbulbs. The room had two small windows, which brought little relief to the suffocating heat. The night air outside was just as still and humid as it was inside. We’d been sleeping like this for several days, here for a youth camp.

I was talking to one of the girls, a fourteen-year-old from an even smaller village even further in the mountains. We were already far removed from any city, in a cluster of houses lost in the Veracruz rainforest.

“Do you ever get to know any guys? Are there any exceptions?”

“No,” she answered casually. “The only guy outside your family you get to know is your husband. But your dad picks him for you and you don’t really get to know him until after you’re married. Usually he’s older than you, a grown man with a steady livelihood. Tradition calls for him to visit several nights a week, but then he sits and talks with your dad while you serve them dinner. He might be there until midnight, and you must continue to wait on them, without speaking. Eventually, you marry, and then you can talk and get to know each other.”

I tried not to gasp. “And how does your dad decide? Until he finds the right man? When he thinks you’re ready?”

“Oh no. Usually once the girl is fifteen.”

“Wow… “

“What’s it like in Puebla?”

I thought of my giant home city, home of 4 million people. “Well, when a guy shows interest in you, and you have interest in him, you go on dates-“

“What’s that?”

I paused. Then I explained as well as I could the concepts of dating and courtship. The girl’s eyes grew ever wider as I spoke.

“You have a say? And you just do fun things together? And you get to talk?”

I nodded to every question, growing glum.

Eventually we dozed off to the sound of 60 girls snoring and the nightly sounds of the rainforest. Somewhere in the distance, the village drunkards were yelling and laughing.

A few days later, I was back in 21st century urban Mexico, and the girl was back in her tiny dirt-floored home in the mountains. In just a year, I thought, she’ll probably be married….

I never knew what became of her. I haven’t seen her or heard from her in the 6 years since. Wifi and phone signal are rare so far out in the mountains. She’s probably already married. I just pray it’s to a good man, even if she didn’t choose him.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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