Freedom had come at last but at what cost? Now came the painful realisation that the lives we had entwined were about to change forever. I disengaged myself from Gurel’s arms and backed out of the room leaving him alone with his gypsy love. Deeply in love and content in each other’s secrets. I needed time to gather my thoughts and walked down the stairs back into the courtyard of the concubines now so quiet that even the sound of slippers could not be heard on the lonely cobble stones. I traced the winding paths through to the golden way where once carriages arrived and where coins were thrown to those in favour. I sat on a bench and pondered the meaning of all that had happened. A feeling of overwhelming peace and serenity overcame me. All was as it was meant to be.
As I peered through the arch at the passage which lead to the golden way I imagined myself there once again as a child holding out my hands and waiting for Hamid to throw me a coin. Emine’s memory not mine. My memories were of a childhood surrounded by books. Yet somehow these memories had become joined . Emine and Emma were one and the same. Just as this revelation dawned on me I was convinced I could hear voices. The voices of children. Young boys were being led toward the gates by their mothers amidst squeals of delight. They were followed discreetly by their eunuchs and guards. These were the princes who had been locked away for years on end for fear they would rise up against the sultan and steal the empire. I wondered what would become of them and smiled at each one as they passed me. Maybe I too could just simply walk out the gates through the golden corridor and find myself on the streets outside. Strange that I would even think this possible at all as I had spent so much time longing to return to my own time in my own country and I might add with my own husband.
I rose and started toward the passageway when someone grabbed me by the arm. It was Rana with Gurel following close behind her. Her face was suddenly gentle with the humility of a grazing deer. She took my hand and turned it toward her so that she could see my palm. She stroked the lines from left to right. ” I see mountains … blue mountains …… their peeks and plateaus reaching ever higher into the heaven of your choosing. It shall be many years before you find this heaven but you have found something in the mountains that will never leave you. It is love that you have found just like the love that found me. We share this love you and I. We three will always be together even if our lives no longer meet “. She linked her arm in mine , held out her other hand to Gurel and the three of us walked through the golden way and on through the gates together. We wandered the grounds enjoying the warm summer evening breezes and the chance to languish under the shade of the cedars without the restrictions of high walls blocking the sights and smells of the Bosphorous. What a magnificent sight it was with the ships sailing by, the fluttering wings of birds free to fly to the destiny of their choice and of crickets chirping in the long grass. The three of us watched the world go by in carriage song amidst the constant hum of human progress.
We were all three lying there under the tree when Rana rose from her cradle in Gurel’s arms”. I shall never again be the property of another. I am a gypsy. Free forever. Come dance with me”. She pulled Gurel up from his shaded resting spot and goaded him into the dance. she sang with the voice of a nightingale and laughed with the gurgling sound of a meandering stream. She twirled her skirts and writhed her hips with passionate abandon stomping her bare feet upon the dusty earth beneath. She was leading Gurel to the cliffs edge in her dance of the temptress and he was happy to follow as if he were being pulled by invisible strings. I was content to watch and thought nothing of it until I heard the cry. Suddenly I saw her push Gurel back with all the force of a raging bull and leap into the sea. I ran as fast as I could toward her. Gurel was on his knees sobbing as the crowd gathered. I looked over the cliff to see her body floating lifeless in the tide. But as I gazed on and the waves washed her out to sea she appeared to swim out toward the islands with her dark hair wild in the wind. I turned to Gurel and held him close to my heart. The island shapes became mountain peaks in the lavender blue tinge of evenings grasp.
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 27/7/2014