The Past Tense Of Youth: The New favourite

Harem_flowerIt was late afternoon and our precession had moved through the entrance gate and on past the imperial council chambers where various statesmen awaited an audience with the sultan.  Behind the council chambers was the tower of justice and the armoury  heavily patrolled by armed guards no doubt anticipating a break from their duties so that they could raid the nearby bakeries for fresh loaves and simit rings.  We would continue on through the main gate to the courtyard of the concubines which is where I would alight the carriage along with my consorts and assigned guards and eunuch.  Behind us came the servants carrying trunks loaded with the fabrics and other trinkets purchased from the markets.  As we moved toward the pavilion we were greeted by pigeons playing some sort of game.

They would fly toward us and as soon as we put out our hands to provide a safe perch they would fly off .  Were they carrying messages?  Maybe there was a way afterall to contact the world outside.  All the while I watched as Rana’s carriage continued on to the other end of the palace grounds.  The courtyards and apartments of the favourites.  I wondered  how long it would be before we saw each other again.  Not long I surmised as I too would be moving into their quarters  though I doubted the sultan would have eyes for any woman other than Rana once he had summoned her.  reclining-odalisque The disguiseThe three who had shared Rana’s carriage  were now being led through the corridor to the bath house.  I would be joining them after a meeting with the valide sultan. The others were now openly  hostile toward me.  ” You with your yellow hair pale as the moon ….. what makes you so special?  Little comedienne with your tricks  and your hidden curves …. why not fly away with your pigeons?  …..  oh maybe you can’t fly at all ….  maybe you are not so clever as you thought ….  You may be favourite now but it won’t last Emine”  I made my way to the imperial hall for my meeting with the valide sultan under guard of course.

 My eunuch ,whose name was Jamahl , carried the chosen fabrics for her perousal.  ” You have done well my dear” , she purred as as she traced her elegant but wrinkled little hand decked in golden rings, across the silk brocade.  She smiled her cheshire smile and waved me out of her presense.  Just as I reached the door she spoke again.  ”  You have been assigned to the new girl … Rana …. is it? ”  I turned and smiled.  I could not believe my luck.  ”  Yes I believe that is her name your excellency” .  She turned away from me then toward the window from which she could see the Imperial hall. ” I believe  she is just now being presented. ” I moved toward the valid sultan hoping for a glimpse.  She did not turn again but in a very firm voice bade me leave immediately.   I met with Jemahl who waited outside in the courtyard and was escorted to the bath house where I would be bathed, perfumed and robed before being moved to the court of the favourites. 

© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 9/2/2014



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