Mariama was already dressed and waiting in her mother's room. She wore a beautiful new wax print skirt set sewn by the tailor around the corner and a pair of plastic sandals. Her mother ushered her to the steps and with tears in her eyes she watched as the group of young ladies walked away shrouded in the early morning fog. One of the girls handed Mariama a red flower-patterned scarf to cover her head and shoulders and shield her identity. With felted but determined steps, they walked back to the street towards a destination up to that moment, unknown to Mariama. They were headed to a house owned by one of her companions' aunts. The companion's name was Ami. Brandishing a cellular phone, she explained that she'd called her aunt on her cell phone the night before and obtained the green light to hide the bride at her house.
Ami was a leader and that was always obvious to anyone who met her in a group of her peers. Like Mariama, she was 16 but shrewd beyond her years. She had never set foot in a classroom, didn't A from B that didn't seem to be an obstacle for her. She had her feet planted in traditions but her head swarmed with sounds and colors similar to the ones poking every western teenager's brain. In addition to a cell phone, she carried a "made in China" iPod full of western music and stars. One would expect her to be a trouble maker but she wasn't. She had about her something foreign to this place.
"I know what I want in life, you don't. I do things on my own terms," she'd often say, laughing at her friends.
The girls walked twenty five minutes and finally sneaked into a small beautiful villa on the outskirts of town. Ami's aunt was waiting for them.