It was just a few hours since she had been married and the excitement from the wedding ceremony had given way to an exhausted lull. She was sitting in the marriage hall surrounded by her cousins and aunts. Her younger cousins were chatting away while the aunts were busy gossiping. Soon she would have to get ready for the evening reception. "So", began her athai (father's sister), "are you ready for tonight?". At this cue, the other women started shooing the kids away. This talk was not meant for their ears. The new bride lowered her eyes and pretended not to understand. "You know, it's going to be your first night. I am going to tell you something important" the older lady proceeded. So this is going to be sex education, the bride thought, bring it on.
"Do you know what happens on the first night?", another athai quizzed. The newly-wed, feeling utterly embarrassed, did not answer. She was thinking about that time, when she was nine, when an uncle put his hands up her skirt. And how this went on for months. She remembered the time when an old man pressed himself against her in a crowded bus. She recalled the day when the college peon had exposed himself to her at the college lab. She pushed the thoughts away, lowered her eyes and nodded as the aunt proceeded to give a graphic and crude version of what she was to expect on her wedding night. There were giggles and chuckles all around.