The cry of seagulls. We are close to the harbour since we can hear seabirds, Jazgül thought. That was what the sailor uncle had said.
How many days has it been since they went downriver and left the ocean? For Jazgül who had run out of fingers to count, it had been many days on the boat.
The boat was very big. Jazgül had never seen a boat this grand. Her family was poor—they had left her nothing but a name. Rather, they had sold her off to be a slave. Jazgül was mute. She could hear, but when she was young, her throat got damaged so she hadn’t been able to make a sound since. She worked despite being inferior to others, but her home didn’t have enough money to compensate for that.
Jazgül thought that she would definitely become a ‘concubine’. She was told that she wasn’t bad looking; her nose was a little low, but she had an attractive face. She thought that she would find happiness if she became a ‘concubine’. She heard that if she became a ‘prostitute’, she would have a lot of work to do every day, but if she was a ‘concubine’ it’ll be good with only a single master as a partner.
And so, when she was brought to a large house, she was happy that she was going to become a ‘concubine’, but…
“Please treat me well.”
She heard that masters were generally perverted old men, but it wasn’t the case here. A very, very pretty person became Jazgül’s master. Master was a dignified beauty with pure white hair.
Not just Jazgül’s muteness, but even the fact that she hadn’t learnt to write, Master did not blame her.
Jazgül learnt her work so she could be useful. While she learnt, she could eat and wear pretty clothes. Master was kind.
The job was great.
And so, even when she was told that Master was to board a boat to go to a faraway country, Jazgül decided to come along. She had experience in riding on a boat when she was sold into slavery. She was also glad that the boat journey was more pleasant on a large boat than when she was sold.
Jazgül didn’t get seasick. Master seemed a little uncomfortable, and the other maids also weren’t accustomed to riding the boat, so Jazgül worked hard.
Apparently, Master was ill. Her skin was pure white, her hair was also pure white and her eyes were red like fruits. Her skin burned red just by going out during noon time. Bright places were also too blinding for her to go out to.
But white skin and hair and red eyes were also the colour of those chosen by God, so it was special. It’s not inconvenient, Master had said.
Master was very high up even in the country, the person who stood alongside the King. And speaking of why such an important person had to go to a faraway country, apparently, it was for business.
Master was a very special person. She could do what the King could not.
Master knew a lot, so she taught her various things. But if Jazgül stayed long, the other maid would glare at her, so she could only be there for a short time.
“Ahoy. We’ve reached the harbour—” the sailor shouted.
Jazgül leaned over the boat and saw the tiny port off in the distance.
They had stopped by many ports, but apparently, this will be the last stop. There was also an overland route, but travelling by boat took a lot less time in comparison.
Master came. She was wearing a veil to avoid the sunlight. Her face was also applied with a lot of ointment and the maid was bearing a parasol.
“Please refrain from staying out for too long,” the maid said.
She was scared of the sunlight that burnt her skin, but the ocean breeze was comfortable. Her red eyes were squinted as if it was too blindingly bright.
Jazgül heard that Master is already close to her forties. In her hometown where people didn’t live that long, it was already the age of grandpas and grandmas. Her parents are also around that age. Since they were always outside tending the fields and pastures, many have skin that gets tanned dark. And so, Master with her pretty skin looked very young.
“The country we’ve arrived at, you know. It has more water than Sha’ou.”
“They grow wheat and rice. It has a lot of greenery.”
Grains are high class. It is taken as taxes even if they were the ones who had tended the fields, so she hardly ate it. The city region of Sha’ou receive it from trade but when you go a little out, there are many poor villages. It doesn’t rain and the number of insects have increased a lot, so they’ll soon end up in starvation. It was also the case when Jazgül was sold—it was the fault of poor crop.
It is very important to have good relations with a country with lots of food. Master journeyed far for this reason.
The foreign country had a different language, but since Jazgül couldn’t speak, she didn’t need to speak it. But, for that, she had to try her best to listen.
Seeing such a Jazgül, Master patted her head. Jazgül squinted her eyes like a mountain goat kid and smiled.
While the sailors were noisy as they prepared for arrival, they returned to the cabin.