The Five Providences (Installment 3)

Once I shake my sleepy state I get myself a bowl of water, soap, and a cloth. In Srutah we can’t use water like the other regions. Water is our most important resource. It is life and we need it to survive. When compared, we make surviving more of a priority than bathing, even though the other regions don’t understand this concept.

I carefully take of the robes I had been wearing for the past few days to reveal lumpy blue and purple bruises lining my rib cage. I let out a heavy sigh and continue to wash myself. Once dressed I see a platter of food has been set out on a small table for me. Probably by Kalim. I’m starving and eat everything that was brought to me. Because I live in the palace we have luxuries like fruit and vegetables, but in the city things like this are very expensive and hard to come by. I finish and leave the platter for someone else to clean. I bring myself to look into the reflection of a silver mirror hanging from a sand colored wall and brush my tangled mess of hair. I hardly ever look at myself because I already feel how different I am that I don’t need to see it. However, if I don’t look just so I could receive a scolding, or worse a beating. The palace is large by anyone’s standards but all the women and young children stay in a large room together. I however am isolated in a room by myself. Kalim is my companion and servant and no one notices me unless I’m doing something wrong. Which most of the time comes in handy because I can be gone for days at a time and go unnoticed. The only reason I come back is because I don’t want Kalim to pay the consequences for my actions. When I look socially acceptable I put on my veil and quietly walk the silent hallway of the palace to the large room that holds the king’s wives, concubines, and numerous children.

The king has three wives, three concubines, and thirty-two children of all ages. I open the large doors to reveal the so-called “family” of mine. Two of the young boys are sword fighting, there are young ladies braiding each others hair, and others busy about whatever they wish. The palace life is not a hard one for those who gain favor with the right people. My eyes dart from person to person and finally I make eye contact with the king’s first wife Serabi and she gives me a polite nod, I bow low. I then make eye contact with Lengawa the king’s second wife who quickly looks away fidgeting nervously, I still bow low. Finally I make eye contact with the king’s third and favorite wife Kirah who smiles warmly and beckons me to come sit with her. I try my best to gracefully escort myself to her side and sit without drawing attention to myself. As I walk across the large room I feel many burrowing eyes locked on me. I feel a quiver inside me and I swallow it. Even in my own flesh and blood I am not accepted and probably never will be. At last I stand in front of Kirah and bow low, she smiles and offers me her hand and I take it.

“Please sit with me.” Her voice is sweet. I am seventeen and she is only ten years older than I am. She is by far the most beautiful of all of the king’s lovers.

“Where have you been Yasari?” Her honey colored eyes peer deeply into mine unflinchingly. No one ever looks me in the eye like she does.

“I’ve been in my room.” I lie blatantly.

“Well you shouldn’t stay alone in your room for so long.” She says almost with a pouty inflection “Why don’t you come talk with me more often?” She questions like a child. Kirah has barely been here two months and is already with child. There’s something odd about her that I can’t put my finger on, but I haven’t been around her much.

“I’ve just been busy.” I say sweetly and feel like the eyes are still on me.

“Well that is too bad. You really should be with me more often!” She says cupping my hands in hers. She obviously doesn’t know the rules of social status as well as she should. No one looks me in the eye, speaks to me with kindness, or touches me ever. I’m an Alfen, why should they? The sensation of her warm thin hands grabbing mine feels foreign and uncomfortable and I want to snatch my hands away but I take in a steady breath and remind myself that she is the wife of the king.

            “What are you working on?” I say nodding to her little wheel of fabric. It’s a tan colored fabrics with what seems like hundreds of colors sewn into it. “What is it supposed to be exactly?” I say with curiosity. Annoyed sighs and twitching faces appear at my question. “How rude” I hear one of the concubines say in disgust. But really how am I supposed to know? We don’t use many other colors than reds, yellows, and oranges but she’s using greens, blues, and purples. It’s rather bizarre and without any kind of particular order. Then suddenly I’m ripped from my deep thoughts by Kirah’s laugh.

            “It’s what I imagine a rainbow to look like.” She smiles widely.

            “What do you mean?” I’m dumbfounded.

            “You haven’t noticed have you?” She says smiling even wider and suddenly I feel stricken by stupidity.

            “You…You cannot see…can you?” I say quietly so that I won’t be judged.

            “You are correct, I cannot see…most things. Sometimes I can see outlines of things or people, sometimes I can see colors if the lighting is just right, things like that. What little I have comes and goes.”

            “Oh” Is all I can manage. “How do you always know it’s me then?” She laughs again.

            “Well it is not exactly easy for you to come into our room without hearing whispers. I know where the door is so I just wave you over to wherever I am. As a little girl I was taught to make eye contact with whoever I am conversing with. Sometimes I do not do well, but I have become quite good at it.” She says still smiling and I start to see her eyes shift to a different location.

            “Well you are doing very well, I would have never known.” Her eyes shift back to my face. I pat her hand gently and she smiles. Suddenly I hear drums and I tense up. Kirah shifts and fixes her veil and puts on her dazzling smile. I’m happy that she’s able to be so happy. I wonder if the king knows she is blind. I look up to see the large doors open to reveal someone of royalty. The servants bow laying themselves on the floor, the concubines and children bow at the waist, and the wives bow their heads. I’m bowed at the waist when I feel another so-called sibling shove me to my knees, I grit my teeth and wait for the final drum. Dooon! Everyone rights themselves to how they were before and I, however, stand and begin my way to plot out my escape.

            “Thank you for speaking with me today, my queen.” I bow low out of respect. She smiles and nods.

            “Tell me who it is please?” Her eyes inquire.

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