Yet here I was in a room last occupied by a woman trapped in a painting. The room felt lived in as if no time had passed. Had I dreamed it all? If I rose from the bed and opened the door would Gurel be waiting there? Perhaps this was a hotel and I had fallen into a deep sleep after a night of passion. Of course. That was it. I rubbed my eyes, put on my slippers and moved toward the door. Light streamed in through the slits in the window casting strange shadows on the walls. Music wafted in from outside. There was laughter and the sounds of carraige wheels on the cobble stones below. I opened the door and peered out into a corridor full of women.
This was no hotel. I looked down at my slippers.
They were like nothing I’d ever seen before. They were pointed with golden tips. I was in a long silken gown. Brightly coloured in emerald green, turquoise blue and vermillion with stripes and swirls and floral patterns. I looked back into the room behind me. There was a bowl of fruit on the table next to the bed and pitcher of water with two beautifully decorated glasses next to it. My eyes moved to the painting and there was the woman I’d remembered. Now I could see her face. Funny I could have sworn … Nevermind. But who were all these women? No …. it couldn’t be … how was it possible? I had travelled back in time. So then if this was her room what was I doing there and where did the two glasses come from? Oh what had I done and how would I ever find my husband who was now in another time zone altogether? As I stood there contemplating what to do next a tall and exquisitely elegant figure entered the room. It was her.
She moved straight past me over to the fruit bowl and took a peach. She then proceeded to unwind her veil and I stared at her completely in awe. She looked down at me with a disdainful glance and bid me pour her a glass of water. I understood at that moment that I was her servant. I did as she bade me without a word spoken between us. She gently took the glass from me and motioned for me to pour one for myself. She took a sip from her glass, a nibble from her peach and smiled.
” Come” , she said softly, “time to go to market”.
I dutifully followed her down into the courtyard where we were joined by many other women of the harem along with three black eunuchs. She sat down on one of the sofas and some of the women joined her . The eunuchs took their places at the two entrances. An older man entered dressed in long robes and a silk turban flanked by two guards. I guessed that this must be the sultan. He sat beside her and put his arm around her. She laid her head on his shoulder while he stroked her long dark hair. Then he smiled and rose to is feet beckoning her as he did so. She followed him through the arch to the courtyard beyond followed by one of the eunuchs. I tried to follow but was barred. What was to be done?
I turned and went back to the sofa. The other women glared at me like I was some sort of poison and then left the courtyard back up the stairs to their rooms in single file leaving me to ponder alone. Which was my room? Only one way to find out. I climbed the stairs and stood at the end of the corridor waiting as each in turn entered their rooms. Only one door remained open except for hers and that was the room opposite at the end of the hall. Ah I surmised. Favourites on the right and runners up on the left. It made sense. Who was this woman? I decided to investigate so I entered her room once more instead. I found a note book on her dresser which I perceived to be a diary. I opened the first page and there was her name embossed. Rana.
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 10/8/2014