A Whispered Confession
Chapter 22|4 mins read
The queen’s shadow lengthened on the smooth marble floor as the soft candle lights sparkled bright in the chamber. Her slender fingers ran lightly over the torn cloth fragment on which Behrouz was inscribed. As she felt the gentle, ragged texture of the cloth, memories flashed before her eyes…
A young girl tucking into a steaming hot biriyani…The girl jumping through the fire of Nowruz…A night sky dazzling with bright fireworks…The father embracing the girl and planting a kiss on her forehead…A pair of feet stuttering and stumbling on the cobblestone…The mother telling the girl to run the harbour…A small ferry that provides safe passage through turbulent seas…
A teardrop trickled down the queen’s cheek, catching the glint of the candlelight before falling on her palm. She placed the torn cloth fragment back in the short wooden cupboard and closed it quietly.
The king’s footsteps echoed beyond the queen’s chamber. She stood up, straightened her purple robe, and then walked to the door.
Cyrus strolled towards the open terrace of the palace, his eyes searching for the sight of his queen. The queen tiptoed towards her king and embraced him from behind. The two bodies stood silhouetted against the deep blue night sky dotted with twinkling stars. The silver moonlight reflected on the waters of the vast ocean that spread below the terrace.
“How was Behrouz, my King?” The queen asked in a hushed tone.
“I used to think that I ran the greatest empire on God’s earth. But after Behrouz…,” Cyrus looked into his queen’s eyes, “I think I have found my equal,” He shifted his gaze to the ocean, “Ginger and I were taking a stroll at night when we ran into a group of people jumping through a blazing fire. It is a holy ritual of Nowruz. Even children partook in it. A young girl ran and jumped through the fire as if she were playing with her friends. The sense of fearlessness among the people impressed me. And it made me wonder…,” The king paused, “It made me wonder whether my kingdom and my empire is blessed with what Behrouz has...”
The queen slipper her hands away from the king’s broad shoulders and stood by his side, “Am I to believe that Cyrus, the King of Kings, will not conquer a new land?”
The king cast his gaze in the distance, towards the calm waters shimmering under the moonlight. Cyrus felt a quiet sense of peace cocoon his soul. He felt content, standing on the terrace of his palace, next to the woman he loved. His heart did not desire anything more.
“My queen, I no longer feel the desire to acquire anything new…Be it land…or a new queen,” Cyrus smiled wryly as he placed his arm along the queen’s shoulders.
“Is it because of Behrouz?” The queen leaned against the thick arm.
Cyrus was silent for a moment. “Yes,” Came the delayed reply, “There is a certain spirit that protects that place, something pure and sacred. I do not have it in me to trample that.”
The queen was lost in thought, with past memories flowing in and out of her like the waves of the ocean. “Behrouz is special...,” The queen’s whispered words did not catch the king’s attention.
“I now feel that I have enough,” Cyrus turned his gaze towards the queen, “Maybe the time has come for me to indulge the fruits of my labour. What say, my queen?”
“If it makes you happy, then that is what I want too,” The queen held the king’s hand, “My King…there is something I want to tell you…”
“My queen, what is it…Wait…Let me hazard a guess…,” Cyrus faced the queen, “We will be blessed with an heir soon.”
The queen lowered her gaze, “I wish for that too…Are you disappointed that my womb…,” Her palms rested on her stomach.
“No…no, my queen…Do not worry yourself with that. Perhaps the Almighty is simply testing our faith and patience,” Cyrus took her hand, “What is it then that you want to tell me?”
“I should have revealed this a long time ago. Now I wonder whether it is too late.”
“It does not matter,” Cyrus assured his queen, “Do speak your mind.”
“I…i…,” The queen began hesitantly.
A shadow lengthened near the threshold of the open terrace, proceeding towards the king and queen. It caught the corner of Cyrus’ eye. The king shifted his gaze from the queen towards the approaching figure. Ginger arrived and stood a few feet away from Cyrus and the queen.
“There is something I need to attend to, my queen. But I will be back soon,” The king kissed the queen’s forehead and stepped away.
I…am from Behrouz…
The queen’s words dissipated in the gentle breeze.
To be continued...