Salena held her breath. Her blood ran ice cold and then just as quickly as it did, she was overcome with shock. She trembled and then collapsed as it felt like the ground beneath her feet had parted, her knees gave in and she felt like she was falling into the earth. Queen? He wanted to make her Queen?! Rezauddin immediately leaped to catch her limp body….
“Salena” he whispered as she lay in his arms. She opened her eyes after a few seconds, in time to stop him from lifting her veil.
” Don’t, I beg of you please don’t”…. She whispered as she took her frail hand to the veil.
“I will agree to your living arrangement after I myself remove the veil and expose my face”.
” As you wish Salena, I do not want to harm you, I wish to have every desire of your’s fulfilled”…
” Allow me some time with my children. Allow us to return to our home. You may send a guard to watch over us ensuring that we do not flee again. I give you my word that I will return in a few days. I will present myself to the King and I will accept the proposal, should you still wish to have me as your Queen”.
Rezauddin was elated but he was sceptical as well. This woman had duped him before, she had slipped through his fingers like honey out of a honeycomb, he could not have her escape again. He sent not one but four guards to guard every corner of her home. Salena agreed to return to the palace after three days.
Rezauddin counted the hours, the minutes, sometimes he even counted the seconds and breath’s until she would appear in his palace again. His mind was aloof and he paid no attention to his work. No criminals were executed, no one was punished, banished or imprisoned. Rezauddin would often be found sitting on his balcony gazing out into the desert, his gaze glazed over with images of Salena and what life could become with her by his side. His heart ached for her. Never before had this happened. He finally knew what love felt like, he understood that as much as it pleasured him, it hurt just as much to be apart from her. He withdrew into himself and spent most of his time alone.
Salena on the other end sat in her tiny village hut. The kids lay asleep in their cots and she watched them dream in all their innocence and beauty. She kissed them on their foreheads as tears drizzled onto their sleeping faces. She wondered if she could go through with poisoning them and then herself. She knew what fate she would meet once her face was exposed, DEATH, she would be beheaded. The viles of poison sat opened on the wooden table to the corner of the bed, each one’s dose was poured and ready to be consumed, soon she would open their little mouths and drop the poison into them, sealing the deed with a kiss as she watched watch them sleep into eternity. Then she would do the same to herself and save them all from the King’s brutal hand.
She combed her golden tresses in slow strokes preparing herself for death as she continued to cry softly. If only life could be as the King envisioned, if only she could truly become Queen and live happily ever after. Alas! Those are fables she knew all too well. She knew that people like her were not made for such happy endings. Life was tough for the likes of her, even tougher for some just as it had been tougher for Salena. She picked up the crystal handled mirror, it was her most valued possession after her mothers necklace, gifted to her as a child by her Nehna, her grandmother. She lifted the mirror and looked at her face aglow with the backdrop of candlelight. She was indeed beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful, such beauty was sometimes a curse and it proved to be just that for Salena. She turned the angle of her face to the right examining her left side and her tears poured out even faster….
How could Rezauddin love you, she asked herself, look at you!
While her right angled profile resembled pearly white skin with high cheekbones, deep dimples, a delicate brow and thick lashes, her left profile resembled a hideous image of melted skin which looked as if it would fall off at any second. She knew that upon looking at her the King would execute her for he was ruthless, brutal and kindness was never his strong trait. He would not spare her hideous existence after seeing what a monster she resembled.
She remembered the day vividly, she remembered it everyday, the day that he threw a pot of scalding oil onto her face in his drunken stupor. Her husband could not stand her beauty, he hated her for it. He wanted no man to look at her ever and no man did, never again. His aim was poor and as slurred as his drunken speech but he hit the bottom half of her left side disfiguring her for life. This was fate, kismet, taqdeer! Its how it was meant to be. Her husband died in a brawl shortly after and she was content to live a quiet life with her sons, hidden from the world under her veil. Everything went according to plan until she was captured and taken to the palace to dance for the King. She danced in the village tavern to earn a livelihood for her kids but never did she expect to be summoned to dance for His majesty Rezauddin…
She placed the mirror back in its place and then went to administer the poison to the three innocent souls who lay peacefully asleep. Her hand trembled, her tears fell like rain now and in the end, she couldn’t do it, she could not bring herself to end their lives. Tomorrow was the day that she returned to the palace and she knew that she was sure to die and leave her children orphaned. But her heart would not allow her to harm them so she left them to sleep instead.
She lay beside them as she continued to weep into the sheets saying a a prayer….
“Oh Allah, who will you leave them to? Who will care for them, feed them and love them if you do not? Please protect them and give them each blessed peaceful lives, Ameen”…
She then stood up, wiped her face and dressed in her most alluring garment, a red shimmering skirt with gold trimmings and trinkets around the hem and waist, she wore her ankle chains, she applied kohl to her sultry eyes and then she veiled her half beautiful, half hideous face. She looked at her children’s sleeping faces one last time. She knew that her neighbor would find them alone the next morning and take them to her home. She smiled, wiped a trickling tear and then donned her cape covering most of her veiled face. She opened the tiny door to her home, stepped out into the cool night and asked the guards to take her to the King… She had escaped one too many times, tonight she would meet her fate, after she danced for Rezauddin….