Sunday, November 18, 2007

A daughter of this house is married

She is my precious jewel
her beauty shines among other women's
her clothes hang with elegance
she walks with grace among the throng
her silence speaks clearly in the crowd
her eyes match the softness of her voice
so look after her

Hard years have followed hard years
in the bleak years empty of hope
she persevered
with quiet faith and dignity she endured
she survived the crossing of the deserts and the seas
the borders and bureaucracies
to bring herself here today
so look after her.

A daughter of this house has got married. She has been refused by the Home Office, but life continues. She is not allowed to register her marriage, but she did not marry in order to get their precious papers, their permission to live; she married to make her life, trusting that things will work out, as I believe they will. The Home Office does not have the power of God over us, nor are their laws more worthy are respect than our morals.

She has no father or mother in this world, and so we are her family now, and a great privilege it is. She is missed in this house, but she knows she will always have a home here.

At the wedding reception, I was seized with the realisation of the movement of the links of the chain of generations. I have seen enough Habesha wedding videos to recognise the traditional songs and dances and the choreographed sequence of events that represent the passage from daughter to wife, from girl to hopefully mother. Each generation alters things slightly, and allowance has to be made for changed circumstances in a new country, without those that should be present. But still there is something timeless; it is a privilege indeed to participate, and yet I also feel sad: people move on, and maybe I am left behind.

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