It was the night of their wedding and all the guests had gone home. They were preparing for their honeymoon but there was something standing in the way. Madeleine owed her family one clarification before leaving: her virginity. They had to give the verdict.
It was 4 AM, three hours after the couple snuck off from the wedding party and made it to their honeymoon suite. Both had showered and mentally prepared themselves for their first night together. Neither of them were virgins but they did wait for their wedding night to be with one another. It was an awkward encounter, despite the year they dated and spent many moments alone.
The next morning…
Madeleine was sitting on the bed, crying uncontrollably. She didn’t know what to say.
Thiandella: Madeleine, talk to me. Stop crying.
Madeleine: I’m so sorry!
She couldn’t even look up at him.
Thiandella: Look, There’s no need to cry. Talk to me like the adults we are.
Madeleine: What could I possibly say after such a huge disappointment?
Thiandella: What disappointment? Madeleine, please don’t tell me you’re crying about this whole virginity thing? Listen, I know that’s a tradition but I’m not into that stuff. I mean, it would have been nice to be the first man to have you but I never made it a requirement.
Madeleine: You don’t understand. My whole family is waiting on your call right now.
Thiandella: I can call them.
Madeleine: And tell them what!? They’re going to want proof.
Madeleine was from a very conservative family that “has never been shamed” and she didn’t want to be the first to bring that shame.
Thiandella: Baby, I am going to tell them that I’m very happy with my wife … because I am. I love you and I didn’t want our first night together to be of you crying nonstop.
Madeleine: They’re going to want proof … the white sheet my mom gave me last night. There’s no blood.
Thiandella: I can’t believe we’re doing this right now.
Madeleine: That’s easy for you to say. My badiane is probably on her way over here as we speak. This is what they do.
Thiandella: And did you really think the night of our wedding was the appropriate time to tell me about all these protocols? Why wouldn’t you say something earlier?
Madeleine: I’m sorry! I’m just scared about what to do… I don’t know what to say.
Thiandella got up at this point and walked into the kitchenette in their hotel suite. Madeleine sat up, worriedly, on the bed, contemplating her next move. She heard the coffee machine whirring from the bed. She quietly gets up from the bed and walks into the kitchen, to join her husband.
Madeleine: I can’t say it enough, but I’m so sorry for putting you in this situation. I wish I knew what to do.
Thiandella: Do you love me?
Madeline: More than you know.
Thiandella: Okay and I love you. That’s really all that counts for me at this point. And I know your family is into this virginity shit but I really think it’s time we set them straight. Be honest with them. How many more years are they going to keep this tradition?
Madeleine: You want them to kill me?! Are you mad? My mother would never let me live it down and God, my dad. I can’t even imagine.
Thiandella: You’re my wife. If I don’t make a fuss about it, why should they?
Madeleine: This mental utopia you live in is just too good to be true. I know we don’t live here but the realities still exist!
Thiandella: That may be true but you know I’m right. I don’t even want to call anyone regarding my wife’s virginity. It’s no one’s business.
Madeleine: It’s my whole family’s business.
Thiandalla: I’m going to fault you on this one. Not because you’re not a virgin because I knew that but because you wait until now to have this conversation with me. We should have been on our honeymoon by now! I would have been better prepared if I had known your family was this zealous about it!
Madeleine was quiet; she knew he was right. Every time she wanted to bring it up, she thought it would run him away. That it would be too much for someone who didn’t grow up in that environment to understand. Thiandella’s family was so open-minded and free. His sister never had to undergo this phase when she got married. But her family was different. They are very traditional and don’t plan to budge on those traditions anytime soon. Both she and Thiandella lived in Seattle, Washington but wanted to have their wedding back in Senegal around family and friends. They didn’t realize that came with a hefty price.
Thiandella: Look, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to add more stress to what you’re already going through. Why don’t you take a shower and refresh while I make us some breakfast. Ca te fera du bien.
While Madeleine was in the shower, Thiandella got a knock at the door. It was Madeleine’s infamous badiane, here to retrieve both the news of her virginity as well as the white sheet she spent her first conjugal night on.
Thiandella: Please, have a seat. I will be right back.
Thiandella discreetly grabbed a knife on his way back to the bedroom. The shower was still running and Madeleine was having a full blown concert. He was happy to hear her blowing off some steam in the midst of all the drama. He walked over to the bed, knife in hand, and examined a spot on his body appropriate for cutting. He was going to honor his wife one way or another. Swiftly, he made a small incision in his chest, squeezing tiny drops of blood out. With his fingers, he guides the blood from his chest to the white sheet, staining the sheet. He rubbed the sheet into itself, attempting to reduce the freshness of the blood. Feeling satisfied, he lifts the sheet from the bed, fold it neatly, and put on a hoddie, and walk out into the living room.
Thiandella: Badiane, I want you to know that I am very pleased with my wife. Everything I have ever wanted, I have. Here.
He hands her the sheet, which she readily accepts.
Badiane: Alhamdoulilah. You just lifted a huge weight off my shoulders – off of our entire family’s shoulders. Thank you very much!
Thiandella: That’s no issue, Badiane. Thank you for everything.
Badiane: May Allah reward you both with beautiful children of Islam!
Thiandella: Ameen Badiane.
Badiane: Amatouma togguay [I can’t stay any longer]. Her mother is waiting on me to get back with the news. I’ll be on my way.
Thiandella: Here, use this as pass.
Thiandella takes 10.000 cfa from his wallet and hands it over to Badiane.
Badiane: Yallah nako Yallah yombal dom. Dieureudieuf!
After Madeleine’s shower…
Thiandella: Badiane stopped by.
Madeleine dropped her lotion in shock.
Madeleine: What?! When?! What did she say?
Thiandella: Shhh, calm down. I already took care of everything.
Madeleine: What do you mean?
Thiandella grabbed her hand and sat her down on the bed. It was at this moment she noticed the white sheet her mother gave her was gone. She stared at her husband in disbelief. Thiandella opened the zipper to his hoodie, revealing his bruised chest.
She immediately started crying.
Thiandella: I made a vow to you, to always love you and protect you. And that has nothing to do with your family. I didn’t think I had to protect you from your own family, especially not so early in our marriage but I want you to know that I’m willing to do this and even more if it means keeping you safe and happy. You’re worth more than this to me Madeleine.
She was at a loss for words. She couldn’t believe what he had done for her.
“How can I ever repay you?” she cried out between tears.
Thiandella took her into his arms and consoled her. “Our relationship will never be quid pro quo. We will never owe each other favors or keep track of points. We’re in this together and that’s that.”
She didn’t know what to say. That seemed to be her anthem throughout the night.
Thiandella: But you have to tell me everything. This night could have gone down completely differently if you told me about your mom and Badiane long ago. We can’t have a solid marriage when things are left out.
Madeleine: I know and that was 100% my miss. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.
Thaindella: Consider yourself forgiven! Now can I please enjoy our first moments as a wedded couple in peace? Bari ngua ay caprices trop!
Madeleine smiled shyly and followed her husband into the kitchen. She felt a wave of relief flow through her.
Madeleine: I love you so much.
Thiandella smiled and grabbed the honeymoon welcome packet sitting next to the coffee machine! “So, Tanzania, huh?!”