Beema looked at her daughter, Koti. She felt a great welling of pride. “You know, I first did the Dance when I was your age. I met your father then.”
Koti nodded and smiled. “I know. I hope I meet my husband too.”
Beema and her sisters fussed and fluffed, pulling at Koti’s dress and arranging her head cloth. Koti saw her father watching from just outside the door.
“I hope you find a husband big enough to look after you,” he said, winking. The sisters all tittered and made to shoo him away. Koti wondered exactly what he meant and looked confusingly at her mother.
Beema held her daughter close. “Your father is teasing you. Remember though, you have riches all men desire but only you can decide who deserves them. This is your power.” Koti nodded solemnly.
Later, when she was dancing with the other girls, a beautiful stranger signalled to her. The other girls pushed her towards him when she hesitated. She was apprehensive and excited at the same time.
A group of tourists stood to one side watching and taking photos. Koti danced with her suitor. He rubbed his hands over her. But as he lifted his skirt to present himself to her, one of the tourists, a large man with a flaming beard, pushed through the group and roughly pulled him away.
“You leave that girl alone, you bastard,” he yelled and beat him to the ground. Koti wailed and hit at the man but he didn’t feel it. She looked for support but all the young men were wide-eyed with fear.
She fell to the ground next to her suitor. “I’m so sorry; I don’t know why he did this to you.”
She made to help him up but he pushed her away.
He spat on the ground. It was thick with blood. “You must be cursed. I thank him for keeping me from you or you would have cursed my family too.”
The flame-bearded white man stepped between the two and growled. Koti’s suitor scuttled backwards, leapt to his feet and ran off. The big man held out a large hand to help the girl to her feet.
She looked up at him. “Why are you doing this? Are you a devil?” Sobbing, she ran off to find her mother.
The big man looked confused. “Well, don’t that beat all? What an ingrate. Next time, I’ll let the savage bastard rape her. That’ll teach her.”