When she teaches, she pounds the table, like a drum. Like the sound of the drums they beat at executions. I can hear them in my sleep.
I saw someone very interesting today. I was, I admit, somewhere I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was there for a good reason.
It is hard to live in a world where nothing is known of the worlds outside. So much is based on conjecture, and much of that conjecture is based on fear. Am I really going to be given to a man who will eat me if I do not please him? Am I going to be brutally handled? I have seen sex demonstrated and it is violent. At my last training session we went into a part of the palace where one of my father’s concubines was giving birth. She was my age. She was crying and screaming in pain and the only concern of the women attending her seemed to be the welfare of the babe. There was blood and feces and it stank and the screams reverberated off the high walls. She was terrified. So was I. Is this what it means to be a vessel? Is this a woman’s place in the world?
I am so stupid! I mentioned to Anchoress Samarra that my mother fears she is drugging me, and I asked her if that was true. While I got a mollifying answer, I also got my mother beaten half to death. Samarra told my father. I half wish I could return to that place I was a few weeks ago – that comfortable place where everything Samarra told me felt like the truth, and I didn’t feel so divided in my thoughts and loyalties. I do know she is drugging me. She wouldn’t have reacted so violently if it were false. Anchoress Ensharra is giving me something to counteract what Samarra is giving me, and I have, through bitter experience, gained enough sense not to mention it to anybody, not even Jasreth.
My mother has kept me home from my usual routine, saying she thinks I am Ill and feverish. I don’t feel ill, but I am beginning to feel very strange, as though I am in two places at once – caught between what Anchoress Samarra says is important, and what my mother and Anchoress Ensharra say is important. I feel like two different people trapped in the same body. My mother says it is because Samarra is drugging me. I cannot believe that of her. My friend, Jasreth, says I should listen to that part which feels most deeply like the truth, but that makes no real sense for me. I have to focus on what is most politically correct, and sometimes I’m afraid that is not truth, but expedience.
It may have been awhile since I last wrote in my journal. Somehow it doesn’t seem as important anymore. I am focusing single-mindedly on my lessons, and things seem much simpler. My routine has changed. I am having morning meal with Anchoress Samarra each day. We visit and drink tea, and have something to eat, and then I go off to, what for me, is school. I practice my language and my positions and I find great joy in them. I have read back in my journal and I have to laugh at some of the things I have said about being afraid of my father and afraid of my fate. How silly of me.