“Salena, I love you” … He whispered into her ear.
” My sultan, my love…. I feared that we would never be together like this ever again”…..
Her head was cradled on his chest as they lay beneath the canvass of stars, gazing up at the studded velvet sky in all its beauty. The sweet scent of roses wafted through the air. A frog croaked somewhere afar and the only other sound was the beating of two hearts, Rezauddin and his Queen Salena …
Everything was perfect, the balmy air, the lighting from the pearled moon, the feel of the grass against their skin, soft, cool and damp, everything was picturesque and sublime. Rezauddin looked at his wife, she too was a creature of perfection. Her beauty was exotic with her deep brown eyes, her arched eyebrows, red lips, pink cheeks, thick lustrous lashes, a perfect aquiline nose all dabbed with silky glowing skin to finish off a masterpiece. How could one man be so lucky he wondered. He clutched her so tightly to his strong chest, a tear welling up in his eye….
” You make me so happy Salena”
But she said nothing.
“It’s as if I never existed before this moment. I think that perhaps I was watching my life play out on a stage having no part in it, not living through it. It feels as if I have only just begun to breathe since you are in my arms” …..
Salena was silent and Rezauddin began to recite poetry for her, poems of love by her favorite poets, Hafiz, Rumi,Gibran and Dharwish. He recited couplet after couplet, Salena lying in his embrace listening to each word, saying nothing. Eventually he lifted her head to meet his lips, he planted a kiss on her cool forehead and then on her lips. His eyes flew open wide in a fright, a hand began choking him, his heart palpitating with countless beats, his skin crying tears of sweat. The sight before his eye’s sent shivers through him. Her lips were as cold as ice and her face as grey as a stormy sky. Salena was dead, she lay lifeless in his arms ….
He let out a cry from the depth of his soul, a cry more unsettling than a lone wolves moan. He felt a pain in his chest that he had never felt before. How could she be gone, d e a d, after he had just found her and placed her here in his arms. He cradled her lifeless body like a baby in its mother’s embrace, gently rocking back and forth, calling her name, willing her back to life as his tears fell like dew drops into her hair, but she did not move, she was no longer there. Her body an empty capsule now, her eyes dull as if a light had been blown out by a gusting wind, her soul had departed. He had never known love or happiness before meeting her, how could it have been so short lived he wondered. Was he not worthy of finding love too? He had spent his entire life void of affection and finally he had found it only to have it slip out of his hand. Was this the price to pay for causing grief to so many before? Was it Gods’s punishment for all his transgressions?
A heaviness compressed his chest, he could not breathe and all that he could feel was a suffocating pain.
Rezauddin sat up drenched in an ocean of emotion, thoughts and perspiration. His heart was racing between where he had just been and where he sat right then, alone on his bed, drowning within the ivory satin sheets in the darkened loneliness of his palatial room. It was the 40th night of his solitude and he knew that he had received his answer. He would not rule his Kingdom alone, he would not die alone, he knew that Salena was the missing piece to the puzzle of his once cold heart.
Her face didn’t matter to him. Love was not only blind, it saw with eyes from the soul. It looked at a person’s heart and soul not at their physical being. He knew what he must do, he must find Salena again and make her his.
An impatient pounding on the door woke the little boy Àbãn asleep on his mother’s bed as he began to cry. Rezauddin stood outside Salena’s simple hut, hearing pots shifting and a baby’s restless cries. He opened the door and saw an old lady at the stove, a baby lay crying in the corner of a room and two sets of curious young eyes scanned him from head to foot, but he saw no Salena…
” The King seeks to speak to the woman of this house ” his Courtier spoke on his behalf.
” I am the woman of this house” said the old woman …
” Impossible, we seek madam Salena”
” Salena has gone, she is not here”…
” Gone? Where has she gone to?” Rezauddins voice was pressing and louder than he intended it to be. Where could she go to leaving her little kids behind.
” I’m afraid that she might not be back for many days, perhaps even weeks. She found work in a nearby town” …
His heart tumbled through his chest in a painful lethargic motion and his eyes settled on the ground as if he were watching it fall, waiting for it to land at his feet . His Courtier observed him silently as he wondered what was the King thinking. Would he blow up in a fit, a rage or would he depart the claustrophobic hut defeated. The room was silent, even the baby had stopped crying. Why was life so unfair to him. He felt hopeless, love too had turned into a curse for him, just as power had. The more he loved the farther she was pulled, the more power he had the less he controlled of his heart.
The chiming of ankle chains in the distance began to haunt him again. He wondered if he would forever hear her feet sing for him even when she was nowhere near. The singing chains and footsteps became closer until he heard shuffling right outside the front door. Salena appeared through the doorway, startled by his presence she dropped the bag of apples falling with it to the ground.
She was speechless. Rezauddin sat beside her offering her his hand to stand up but she refused. She regained her composure, her children circled protectively around her, she picked up her baby attaching him to her slender hip never peeling her questioning eyes from Rezauddin. What does he want, her frantic eyes were wide with confusion …..
The old lady left the hut hurriedly, the courtier stood guard outside the door, she kissed her kids and sent them out to play but little Àbãn would not leave his mother in the presence of this strange man. Her face still veiled, it was never unveiled, tucking her secret away from everyone, everyone except Rezauddin and the old woman who helped her with her kids. Rezauddin tried to block out visuals of what she resembled beneath the veil, but he couldn’t, he saw through the soft green fabric as images of her tortured skin sprang to his mind.
“Salena” …. He said in almost a whisper.
” Sultan, why have you come?” Pain leaked out of her croaky voice and she hated how pitiable, how desperate she sounded.
” I have come for you Salena, I need you in my life, my heart will not allow me to find another ” ….
Salena thought that she was dreaming. She must be dreaming. It was one of her vivid dreams again. She willed her mind to wake up telling herself ” you’re dreaming, you’re dreaming silly girl, wake up!”. She didn’t realize that she said it out aloud.
“No …. you’re not dreaming Salena” Rezauddin took her hand in his as he bent on one knee…
” Will you marry me Salena, will you be my Queen?” ….
Her eyes pooled with tears.
” But” …. She began to speak but her words choked her.
” What about my face. How will you marry me and live a life with a hideous creature like me by your side”….
Rezauddin dropped his head in shame.
” I wonder the same…
How will you marry me! A tyrant, an oppressor. I am ashamed at how I’ve treated you. Can you forgive me Salena?”
Salena said nothing for a while and then she removed her veil looking up at Rezauddin defiantly. Her beauty was magnificent, breathtaking even and he knew that each time he looked at her she would steal his breath away. But then she turned ever so slightly to the right revealing her left side, a mass of melted hardened skin stared at him as if it were screaming obscenities at him. His eyes looked away, he held his breath.
” You can’t even look at me!”, Salena spat at him. “Please leave, leave us, we want nothing to do with you”…
” Salena, I look away ashamed and pained. I wish that I could have saved you from such a brutal act. If your husband were alive I would behead him before your eyes. I do not care about the past, I need you Salena, my future, the future of Sharjah awaits you”
Her heart melted as tears oozed out from her eyes but Salena knew that it wasn’t possible to wed the King. She shook her head saying no. She would not accept his proposal. Rezauddin grew desperate in his attempt to make Salena his.
” Salena, you do not understand. If you do not marry me, I will live a lonely life, I will die alone. Perhaps its true and I do not deserve love, I know that I do not deserve you, but how can I live again without you, you’re all I think about, you are the only one who can complete me” …
Salena knew that it was impossible, she could never become Queen. Which Queen resembled a grotesque creature! Not even in fairytales did people like her find a happy ending.
” Salena, I will never reveal your secret, you may keep your face hidden from eyes that are not mine. It is only I that will know and I do not mind, I look at you with new eyes, a new man, I want your heart, not your face. But if you must know, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, ever kissed, ever dreamed of”….
Salena was afraid, deathly afraid of saying yes for if she did she knew that she would wake up from her dream. She knew that the moment the word yes rolled off her tongue, Rezauddin would disappear like smoke. So she sat down on the rickety chair and began weeping. She weeped and weeped until someone would wake her up. She awaited a little persons pudgy hands to come and wipe her tears like they did whenever she had these dreams. But no one came and when she looked up Rezauddin was still on his knee beside her, waiting for her answer. She looked at her King, Rezauddin, his bearded face so handsome, his eyes so enchanting. How could she not say yes even if it was just a dream. But this was no dream, this was Fate, it was Kismet and Taqdeer was written in the skies above. The heart will not stop searching for what it wants, it is relentless in its attempt to find the missing piece that completes it and makes it whole.
“Yes!” She whispered…
“Yes”…… She said through her tears
” I’ll marry you” she said as Rezauddin moved toward her, grabbing her and the little boy in her arms, weeping with her as their hearts beat against each others in sync.
It was as if the whole universe had shifted into place beneath their feet and the world somehow looked so very different suddenly. The sun was brighter, the sky bluer, and everything, every person, every creature was at peace. Sharjah had been reborn, Rezauddin had just breathed his first few breaths of life and Salena would be loved and cared for the way that a woman deserved to be cherished and loved. Sometimes we dream of fairytales and sometimes we become them.
Rezauddin nodded at the Courtier as he opened the front door to the small holding, hand in hand with Salena. A trumpet was blown thrice and every passer by stopped to hear what the news would be.
” His Majesty, Shah Rezauddin has ended his search for he has found his Queen”… Preparations will begin for Miss Salena to become Queen” …..
The air choked with shock. Mouths were agape, the King would wed a village girl, a commoner! Whispers traveled like feathers through the air.
” The King has found his Queen”
” Long live Rezauddin and his Queen”
And as they say ….
‘ They lived happily ever after ‘ ….
The End ….