Thursday, January 3, 2013


Eschiva had reached her limit quite some time ago. Although it was expected of her to manage the house, a job she did exceedingly well, she had had enough of it. Hers was a political marriage of the worst sort. While her husband had been welcoming enough, those of his house had did little to hide their disapproval of her.
            That was not what truly bothered her. Despite the cold welcome, she was fortunate that her husband was kind and genuinely affectionate towards her. That was until he married his second, third, and fourth wives.
            Now, Eschiva was little more than an afterthought.
            This too though did not really trouble her. Despite receiving less attention, she was still doted upon. Also, she was afforded many privileges and more freedom than the others.
            What was wearing her down was the monotony of it all.
            Day in, day out, the same cycle repeated itself over and over. It was like a mill stone grinding grain into meal. Slowly, she felt like Eschiva the woman was becoming little more than Eschiva the chamberlain.
            She felt that leaving was her only recourse.
            Eschiva had left the grounds with her most trusted maid on the pretext of visiting the bazaar. They were still well within the city limits when they had to stop. A small pebble had gotten into her sandal that she just couldn’t seem to work out. The more she walked, the more it irritated her.
            Not wanting to attract attention, then headed down a side street between two stalls. What Eschiva found was something completely alien to her.
            Having grown up in a privileged household, she barely had occasion to go outside. When she did, her sojourns had always been accompanied escorts, and always went along the main thoroughfares. Even after her marriage, her own time was non-existent, mostly it was spent with her own children. Outside of servants, she had no direct interaction with those of lower status than herself.
            Now, in this back alley, she was confronted with harsh reality head-on.
            A woman, dressed only in rags, sat holding a small swaddled bundle. She was crying, rocking it back and forth slowly. Across from her, a little further down, an old man in rags slept with his head tilted back, snoring loudly. From a doorway a little further down she heard the sounds of a man yelling and a woman crying out. The entire area smelled of old, stale urine.
            Eschiva started to back away, when she tripped and fell, landing hard on her bottom. She looked up to see two small sets of eyes peering from a nearby archway. The children, like the others she saw here, were dressed in loose rags. Dirty and gaunt, she couldn’t tell if they were male or female. They had a look of sadness which was completely unknown to her.
            Not waiting to regain her feet, she started making her way back towards the bazaar. Outside of the shadow of the alley and back in the sunlight of the market, Eschiva felt as if a weight had been lifted off her. As her handmaid helped her up, she suddenly realized there were tears running down her face. She quickly made up her mind.
            As the servants greeted their mistresses return, Eschiva felt a sense of comfort wash over her. With a renewed sense of self and a deep, new-found appreciation of her life, she decided that there were worse things in life than being a chamberlain.

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