On the occasion of my wedding, the preparation room was filled with gaiety. I was surrounded by women of my family; no one person could be heard, for all were speaking and laughing as a singular and grand celebration.
I was in the palace of Nura and Ahmed, which had been completed only a few weeks before my wedding date. Nura was pleased with the outcome and was anxious for word of her gilded mansion to leak throughout the city of Riyadh and cause all to exclaim at the monies spent and the glory accomplished.
I myself hated Nura's new palace; for romantic reasons, I had wanted to be wed in Jeddah, by the sea. But my father had insisted upon a traditional wedding and I, for once, made no outcry when my demands were not met. I had decided months ago to hold back my passion except for matters of paramount importance and to let little irritations slide easily away. Doubtlessly, I was becoming exhausted with the disabilities of my land.
While Nura beamed happily, our female relatives were heaping compliments upon the beauty of the palace. Sara and I exchanged small smiles, for we had agreed some time ago that the palace was in the worst possible taste.
Nura's marble palace was enormous. Hundreds of Filipino, Thai, and Yemeni laborers, supervised by unsmiling German contractors, had worked around the clock for months to create the monstrosity. The painters, the woodworkers, the metal- workers, and the architects did not speak with one voice; as a result, the palace conflicted within itself.