I was nervous. I was nervous beyond belief. Soterra had explained—three times—all the details, but it was all new for me and I had never even witnessed such an event, while now I was supposed to be one of two main players.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I muttered.
Before Soterra had a chance to say anything, the door to the room opened and I saw Legate Jarol entering. She smiled at me and then frowned a little. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“She’s just nervous,” Soterra explained.
“And she should be.” The legate approached us and handed me a small box. “I brought you something.”
Soterra had told me that second per’taye
should bring a scarf, which later I’d use to bond me with Tavor, so I wasn’t surprised that Jarol had a gift for me. I thanked her and took the box. I took a moment to study the box itself, as it was a very pretty, nicely decorated wooden chest and then I opened it to see the most beautiful fabric in the universe. I glanced at the legate and she grinned. I took the scarf out of the box with one hand and put the chest away with the other. Then I gently slid my hand down the scarf—it was Tholian silk. It was thin, almost transparent, light orange with dark orange and light brown floral patterns.
“How do I wear it?” I asked.
Jarol took the scarf from my hands and wrapped it around my neck. I allowed her to do that, observing growing surprise on Soterra’s face. “What’s wrong?” I asked her.
The legate looked back over her shoulder at my friend and asked the same question. “What’s wrong, Ma’Kan?”
“I...I would do it differently,” Soterra said quietly, not doubt fearing of offending our former commander.
But Jarol only stepped away from me and asked, gesturing toward the scarf. “How?”
Soterra unwrapped it and repeated the procedure. I couldn’t tell any difference, but Jarol obviously could, because she nodded slightly, as if telling herself ‘oh, that’s what’s different.’
“Which way is correct?” I asked.
“I never saw it wrapped any other way than this,” my friend said.
“I did. I never gave it much of a thought, but I just realised that I never saw ‘my’ way of wrapping the wedding scarf since I have left Nokar.” She looked at me. “Since your husband is Eheenan, you might want to use the Eheenan way.”
So it was a regional matter. Nokarians—Jarol was Nokarian—did it one way, Eheenans—another. “Is it all right if I choose Eheenan way?” I asked.
She smiled. “Kapoor, this is your
I smiled back. “Eheenan it is, then. For him.”
“Now.” Soterra put her hands on her hips. “Practice unwrapping.”
At first I was surprised by her words, but soon I realised how important it was. The scarf was soft and it was so easy to entangle its ends. And I not only had to unwrap it from my neck, but then wrap it back around mine and Tavor’s.
When I managed to accomplish this task without poking out Soterra’s and later Tavor’s eye, I had to repeat my vow. The vow tradition was adorable and I’d loved it from the first moment I had heard about it...until now. I had to memorise the whole thing in Cardassian. No, not just modern Cardassian language, which I was learning. It was some old Cardassian, Lakatian dialect full of funny words and tones, for old Cardassian was a tonal language. It was like singing, not speaking and it was important to sing, because my both per’tayes were supposed to dance to my speech.
As it turned out, not only my accent was horrible—they tried to convince me it wasn’t bad, but I could hear myself—but also another set of Nokarian—Eheenan regional cultural differences came out. Jarol asked Soterra to teach her Eheenan way and I knew that with her perfect memory it would take a merely moment, but I decided against that idea. “No, Legate. Let’s make it a celebration of cultures. I’m not even a Cardassian and...” I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. I looked at Jarol. “Do it your way. And Ma’Kan will do it her way. And after that I will dance as we dance in my culture.” I grabbed the floating skirt of my long dress. “This dress is close enough to traditional dress in my culture, so it’ll fit.” I looked at them both. “Okay?”
“You’re the chief here,” Soterra smiled. “It’ll be as you wish.”
“What if I forget my vows?” I asked panicked.
Jarol shrugged. “Then you’ll improvise.”
“Won’t it be taken badly...I mean...not remembering something?”
The legate smiled. “Let’s say our memory is not immune to nervousness.”
And I couldn’t help but wonder if it had happened to her.
We kept practising and being busy helped me a bit with my stress.
“Do we paint a kabut
on her face?” Jarol asked suddenly, looking at Soterra.
My eyes opened wide. “A what?”
The legate pointed to the desk with make up stuff. “In the past,” she began to explain, “unmarried women painted their scales blue. Here.” She pointed to a scale on the outer edge of her eye ridge. “During the wedding ceremony, the blue colouring is removed to show the married status of the woman.” She inclined her head a bit. “Do you have a custom like that?”
I thought for a moment. For a second I considered telling her that many people misinterpreted teep
for such a sign, but then I thought that there was no reason to teach her misunderstandings between human cultures. “No, not in my culture. Although I know that in some cultures long hair was something to tell that a woman was unmarried and after the wedding ceremony her long braid was cut off and the hair hidden under a bonnet.”
“Why?” Jarol touched her own—very, very long—hair.
“Because the view of hair was for husband’s eyes only. A married woman was not supposed to be attractive to anyone else.”
“What did married men have to do?”
She frowned. “Doesn’t seem very fair to me.”
“That’s why the custom isn’t practised any longer.” I paused. “Please, paint the blue...blue...am...thingy on my face.”
,” Soterra said. She took a small brush and painted two dots on my temples. When she finished, I reached for my teep
—a little silver piece of jewellery not accidentally in the shape of a drop—and attached it to my forehead. Both Cardassian women smiled.
“How Cardassian,” Jarol commented.
“It represents a very important point of my body,” I explained, touching it gently. “It’s the sixth chakra
...an energy point.”
The remaining time of the preparations was filled with sharing interesting details of our cultures. I had never known that Jarol was so interested in art and customs.
If I thought I was nervous, I was just about to find out what panic was. The preparations came to an end and the time for the real thing came.
But when I entered the path that led to a small circle of flowers, inside of which Tavor stood in his polished armour, all the tension miraculously vanished. I slowly went to him, stopped and unwrapped the scarf. He leaned a bit toward me to make it easier reach his neck and shoulders, while I wrapped the scarf around our necks, taking extra care not to touch his neck ridges.
Zamarran, who kept a cage with two little adorable mini-dragons, opened it, letting the creatures out. As I had been informed, the mini-dragons were called ratatoon
s; the blue-bellied one was male and the red one female. They looked like a combination of a pigeon, a dragon and a parrot. Ratatoon
s had an important task to perform—to tell is which one f us would be wearing trousers on our marriage. After being let out of the cage, they were supposed to fly to a snack, which had been prepared for them. If the male reached it first—Tavor would be the boss; if the female—I would rule the world. But the ratatoon
s had other plans. They didn’t fly to the snack, but started playing—or perhaps dancing—in the air.
Zamarran started to laugh. I had never heard him laughing like that—it was a deep, happy sound coming from the deepest parts of his belly. He was almost literally crying and rolling on the floor. After a moment he started to calm down, but then the ratatoon
s decided to...return to their cage and his giggling intensified to finally burst into laughter again.
But it would be unfair to say that he was the only one. Everyone was laughing.
“I guess they’re not hungry,” Tavor commented.
“So now what?” I asked.
“Now I’ll tell you how much I love you.” My eyes opened wide, while he began. I drank the words coming from his mouth, hoping someone was recording all this, because I knew I wanted to listen to that poetry more than just one time...and to have a translation, as I turned off my universal translator to listen to the melody of his little speech in original. All the time he was speaking in that melodic, Old Lakatian language, Brenok was humming a melody like an accompaniment to those words. The translator would ruin everything.
My vow didn’t sound as melodic as his and it was much shorter—gods forbid I ever attempted to out talk a Cardassian—but I shared it with him with tears in my eyes. I didn’t see my per’taye
s dancing behind me, since I was looking at Tavor’s face, but I could hear the sound of rustling their dressed made as they were moving.
When I finished, I unwrapped the scarf from his neck and used it in my dance. I hummed and sang and I don’t think it mattered at all that Tavor couldn’t understand a word from the lyrics—he loved it! His eyes didn’t leave me and he observed me with his hands near his mouth; tips of the fingers touching as if he prayed.
After I finished, the blue spots were removed from my temples and it was the last item of the tradition that was set in stone. The rest of the ceremony was less official and more fun: eating too much food, drinking too much kanar
and talking too many speeches. Zamarran apologised for his wife’s absence; he said she wanted to be here but her work kept her off Cardassia Prime. Soterra had a speech of ‘how women should not be considered naturally born engineers,’ which made Brenok cry with laughter; Jarol poked him each time he giggled. Tasar had a speech full of warnings for his ‘poor, little brother’ while Mama Karama declared she was happy that both her sons found their happiness in their lives and finished with a humorous warning that if they wouldn’t listen to their wives, they’d have to deal with her.
Cardassians knew how to have fun and even if someone tried to convince them otherwise, they retained that ability of enjoying themselves for this particular tradition.
Simply put, it was another ‘the happiest day of my life.’