Mami: My Grandmother's Journey by Rebeca Lau, book cover

Excerpt from Mami: My Grandmother's Journey

Chapter 2: An Arranged Marriage

“One day, I was just told that in a week I would get married. And from that time until the wedding, I was locked in one room in the house where female relatives and girlfriends took turns keeping me company and bringing me food (I could have no male visitors at all). I spent all seven days before my wedding in this room where I was entertained, had meals served to me, washed myself, and slept. I do not remember the details during this week but only that was the one time in my life when I was the focus of so much attention and care from female family members, my mother’s girlfriends, and neighbours.”

I listen to Mami with a mixture of feelings. I envy the ceremonious ways of how a husband was chosen for her, which I understand to be about how important this was to her family as well as to the culmination of this major rite of passage. I pay attention to the details and am curious about the meaning and intention behind them and try to envision each part everyone played to make this happen and what an enormous responsibility was placed on the parents and the matchmaker to bring about the successful union of two people and two families.