They were undecided about the way in which the fire will be lit. Some suggested that that a pyre be built. Then they can look up to me as I stand tall on the pedestal of the pyre. Some suggested that there should be a sitting arrangement at the middle, so that the fire can surround me. It would look poetic said the court poet. Whatever may be the fire arrangement, the washer man wanted it to be telecast across the three worlds. "Then the milk will become separate from the water!", he had said, informed my sister-in-law. Since this pyre building has started, no one has seen his wife anywhere. I overheard the maids whispering, "She feared being thrown into the pyre by her husband! What a shame!" Amidst all this commotion, he has not come across the guest quarters where I had been shifted since the last court meeting was held.
My first maid is of the opinion that this is a conspiracy that is being hatched against me. I yawn. She continues dusting. With her back turned to me, she says, "Which sane husband will put his wife in fire because of a stupid washer man's comment? I say, memsahib, there is plenty of dirt in this curry!" I leap out of my bed as I remembered that I have left the curry uncovered. I had planned to send it to him for lunch. I arrange the cushions and sink into them. No point in rushing to the kitchen now. The cat must have had a good lunch today. "...and then there is also the question of a heir." O, I am getting so forgetful! I need to send that letter to him. That is why I had planned to cook the curry. Without the curry, a letter will seem to be too intimate. Now what? May be it's better to wait a couple more days till all this fetish over proving purity is over.
Gosh! I never understood what these men want. That dupe wanted flesh, but didn't force himself upon me. And, my husband wants to be a good king. He wants to put my flesh to test so that there is no riot in the kingdom. The grapes look luscious. I pick one and put it in my mouth. I ask the maid to leave. She looks at me deeply and says in a ghoulish voice, "If only women could be left to themselves." As the clicking of her bangles cross the door, pass through the corridor and walk past the guarded entrance, I look vaguely at the grapes.
Image: taken by self in Sigri, a small fishing village in an island of Greece, 2010.