The night before was long, noisy and utterly embarrassing. The boys stayed well beyond midnight with their endless teasing, game playing, and drinking. She was forced to have a sip, and her face turned red immediately upon swallowing the burning liquid. They laughed and let her off the hook. She thought she caught a glance of her husband, who stole a look at her shyly while the boys laughed. He was a nice looking young man. Her face felt warm at her own thought.
She sat up cautiously in bed and peeked at the other end of the bed. He was still sound asleep. The fact that there was a stranger sleeping next to him, although not face-to-face, and he didn't seem to mind was a little odd to her. She was so nervous when he came to bed last night she thought she was going to faint. Her heartbeats calmed down when the only thing he did was to fall asleep as soon as he lied down. Her mother vaguely explained to her what might happen during the first night, which sounded much like a torture to her. She was relieved it did not happen last night.
But then, he must have been exhausted, too. The boys would come back again tonight, to perform another customary "havocking the new room" for the newlyweds. Only heaven knew what they had planned to do. Last night, for one of the tricks, they forced her husband to traverse a handkerchief up one of her sleeves, across her bosom (her face was as red as the persimmons!) and down the other sleeve inside of her garment. The sheer embarrassment of it! No men had ever touched her in her life except her father, and he stopped hugging her when she turned 16. Her husband's touch sent an electric wave to her entire body. The feeling was so foreign and so exciting that she almost wished it would happen again tonight.
Her face felt warmer at this thought.
She told herself she had better get up and get ready. Her mother had told her: always get up before your husband does.
Her maids were sent home last night by her mother-in-law after the banquet, which she did not attend by custom. Her mother-in-law had made it clear: no daughter-in-law of hers would have any servants. They cried when they came to say goodbye. She was in shock and did not have any tears. She grew up with two of the maids her parents sent with her as part of the dowry. They were her only friends outside of family members, since girls from good families were not supposed to go outside or be seen by strangers.
She was left alone in a stranger's house, and she knew her days of being a treasured daughter had officially ended.
She opened the door quietly and walked to the other side of the courtyard where the kitchen was. She tried to get some hot water, but starting a fire in the brick stove proved to be too difficult of a task for her. The ceremonial lectures from her mother did not mention the details of the work normally performed by servants. The courtyard was quiet and dim before dawn, so nobody saw her predicament. She did not have to cook for the first three days, but the honeymoon would end there. Her husband was the first born; therefore his wife would bear much of the housework.
She did not understand why she couldn't keep the maids, as they could lighten the workload for everybody. They would not increase the expense for the family either, as she had her own money. She did not ask, for she was not in a position to make any decisions.
She carried some cold water back to the new room. The fine china water bowl and jug were set up by her maids last night. All of a sudden tears appeared in her eyes now she thought of her companions, and felt very lonely standing in this unfamiliar room.
Her husband woke up just when she finished washing her face, getting dressed, and styling her hair into a simple bun – a style indicated her marrital status. She helped him get ready for the day in silence, both felt awkward being alone in the bedroom. Much to her relief, he did not seem to mind her imperfection. He had a gentle tone when he spoke. She took it as a sign of having a kind temperament. She thanked her parents and the goddess of marriage silently.
They would greet the parents with three koutous in the main hall, and the four of them would then go to the family’s shrine to present the bride to the ancestors, with incense and another three koutous, and ask for their blessings - the parents standing in front, she and her husband behind them. She then would become a formal member of the family.
Relatives and neighbors would come and congratulate the newlyweds all day long, followed by their boys proceeding with the second round of teasing at night. It was meant for good omen for the new couple, and they would do this for three nights straight. The more they teased, the better the marriage would be.
The night might require all her strength to endure, but comparing to what was waiting for her in the future, it was just a dress rehearsal.