Ma says good girls rise with the sun. They cook, sweep the floor and sing hymns. Good girls walk softly, their feet close to each other, preserving the space between their thighs so they don’t rub.
Bua, Pa’s sister, says boys want good girls because good girls don’t want to want. They feel their restlessness under their ribcage, rising into their mouths and they let it out in a silent sigh. How bad can be a touch, a kiss, an embrace, the throbbing that wets their panties and lets the desire in? Good girls ignore it all.
Ma says good girls are broken in by their life mates. No matter how they’re undressed, good girls are always elegant. Those 8000 nerve endings don’t explode in just pleasure for them; they sparkle to lead the way for the seed. Good girls know they’ve preserved themselves for the right ones even if their husbands are snoring while they are bringing their legs back together, even if it hurts somewhere, even if it leaves them with a nauseous emptiness of a wrongdoing.
Mehri, the maid, says good girls keep their feet firm on ground, their sarees never revealing their midriff, their swollen stomachs never too high for anyone to notice. While married, they’re tied to jingling bangles and silver toe rings, the color red and green, never white and black. Good girls never argue but have the words and the expertise a man might need someday.
Grandma says good girls are proud mothers when they give birth to sons, when they sit upright to feed their babies several times in a night, without a fuss, without disturbing anyone else. The sons who grow up to be like their fathers; sons who bring other good girls to keep them happy. Good girls are unhappy, but peaceful when laid to rest. Good girls are remembered.
They all say it’s difficult to be a good girl, to resist freedom and desire, but it isn’t too hard to pretend. I tell them I can’t wait to try.