Bride Price by Huina Zheng

When Kun drove his BMW to his girlfriend Yan’s home to propose a marriage, Yan said, “Park the car here and we’ll walk to my parents’ house. I told them we would take the high-speed train. Don’t tell them you have a car, or they’ll make you pay more.”
            Kun nodded and got out of the car carrying bags of gifts, including cigarettes, white wine, tea and candies. Yan also held some presents.
            “My parents are supposed to come with me, but,” Kun said uneasily.
            “Doesn’t matter. I told my parents your father developed pneumonia after being infected with COVID-19. They knew he hasn’t fully recovered, and your mother needs to care for him,” Yan said.
            As she walked, she said, “If my parents ask what your parents do for a living, tell them they’re self-employed. Don’t tell them your parents run a trading company.”
            “But marriage is based on integrity.”
            “We can tell them after the wedding. You don’t know my parents. You need a lot of money to get a wife here. My brother is not married yet, and my parents need my bride price so my brother can have money to get a wife. If they know your family is rich, they will ask for a lot of money.” Yan said with a calm expression, but her voice changed a little.
            Although Kun had been with Yan for two years and lived together for one year, he had never met Yan’s parents. Kun felt that Yan was distant from her parents and rarely called them. Yan would not have brought Kun home to meet her parents if not for the marriage proposal. He once asked Yan, who simply said that shortly after she was born, her grandparents took her to a faraway village to raise her, so that her parents could avoid the one-child policy in China and have a son. She lived with her grandparents until she was eight years old. Her parents took her home because her brother would attend a boarding school and her parents wanted her to attend the same school so she could care for her brother.
            When they arrived at Yan’s parents’ home, Yan’s brother, who was still in college, was not at home. Her parents greeted them. Everything went on well. The bride price was 300,000 yuan, as Yan told him before.
Yan’s mother said, “Yan doesn’t have a car yet.”
            “I didn’t think it through,” Kun apologized. “I will buy a car.”
            “I can’t drive. I don’t need a car,” Yan said.
            Her mother gave her a stern look and said, “The car can stay at home. Your father and brother can use it.”
            Yan was about to say something, but Kun squeezed her hand, and she controlled herself.

            The wedding was scheduled for a weekend six months later. Kun booked a hotel and air tickets for Yan’s parents, brother, and eighteen relatives, who arrived three days before the wedding.
            On the wedding day, Kun and his best man set out with friends to pick up the bride. Upon arriving at the hotel, they found Yan’s parents sitting in the lobby with a banknote detector on the table.
            Kun was about to salute, they stopped him and said, “Have you got the money?”
            Kun took out the money and Yan’s father said, “100,000 yuan? Didn’t we agree on 300,000 yuan yesterday?”
            “I can only scrape 100,000 yuan for now and will give you the rest as soon as the wedding ends,” Kun said.
            Yan’s mother said, “No. Yan won’t marry you if you don’t pay the 300,000 yuan. Yan told us your family was not rich, but you were nice and honest, so we reluctantly agreed to the marriage and charged a bride price of only 300,000 yuan. But we found that your parents are clearly affluent with four cars. Yan is a good girl. She is worthy of more bride price. We told you yesterday that you would give us another 300,000 yuan on the wedding day.”
            Hang, the best man, said, “Uncle and aunt, Kun borrowed money from us yesterday and only raised 100,000 yuan.”
            “I’ll make up the 200,000 yuan within a week after the wedding,” Kun said.
            Yan’s mother said, “Your family’s so rich and you won’t pay the bride price? People need to pay at least 600,000 yuan bride price in our region.”
            Hearing the commotion outside, Yan went to the hall and asked what was wrong. After learning the whole story, she walked up to her parents and said, “Kun and I have registered our marriage. I’m his legal wife. You received 300,000 yuan and still asked Kun to buy a car. He paid 200,000 yuan for the car, so that’s 500,000 yuan in total. The bride price is definitely enough, but you still want more. Even if you disagree, I am still going with him. If you stop me from completing the wedding ceremony, I will divorce him, and you will return the car and the gift money to him. I will never get married again, you will never get the bride price from me, and my brother will never be able to get a wife.”
            Before her parents responded, Yan approached Kun and said, “Let’s go. The wedding starts in an hour. We can’t be late.”

Huina Zheng either coaches her students to write at work or write stories for fun after work.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.