Chapter 11 Beauty

Viridiana felt the hypocrisy of her life weighing on her like a millstone. Whatever has been kept hidden must now be laid bare! If only she could. She thought of how long she had deceived her daughter with her enchanting stories. But the die was cast. When we reach North Africa. Then I will tell Amaris Dahia ...everything.

She took a bowl of mehendi made from oils, henna leaves, lemons and black coffee, and set it before Amaris Dahia. Holding her daughter's right hand, she observed how it had become callused and hardened by work and weather. She dipped a tiny wooden stick into the thick paste. With great care, she gently dripped the mehendi onto Amaris Dahia's open hand. Soon a sensuous mosaic of evenly formed triangles radiated outward from the center of her palm toward her fingers. Viridiana took her left hand and repeated the process. When she had finished, the intricate patterns on Amaris Dahia's hands glowed under the firelight like a map to a hidden realm that could only be revealed by one Gitana woman to another.

Viridiana smoothed back her daughter's tangle of black hair, placed a kiss on each cheek and said, "What better protection from the strangeness of the world than beauty?"