14th Thread: Your father needs a banquet room
She did everything well, whether embroidering, spinning, weaving, or mixing perfumes. She was beautiful, tall, always elegant. From her slender hands turned out only exquisite works. We were slow and clumsy. My mother only had patience for my older sister because she learned fast, better than I. I knew I would never excel. When she was particularly exasperated, my mother would drop everything and leave. I would look for her in her room, and usually found her in bed, staring at the ceiling. Sometimes she cried, I never knew why, it hurt. She let me lie next to her, and dry her face with her handkerchief. She would speak to me. She told me that her mother had taken her to see family on an island. The city is so large that it took the cart a long time to cross it and reach the harbor. It scared me that there were so many people I did not know, except for my family and some friends of Mama. She told me that there were other cities, other seas, other distant lands. I cuddled against Mama.
– Stop it. I do not believe you. I love our house. Your room is so beautiful, will it be mine someday?
– No, my room is not so nice.
– Mama, what makes you sad?
– Shh. It’s nothing. Soon, we will live in another house, you’ll see. It’s almost ready.
– Are you crying because we have to leave?
– No, it doesn’t matter. The house will be more beautiful, larger too. We will give this house to your cousin so that he and his brothers support Papa at the assembly.
– I do not want to leave, I like our house.
– Your father is an important man, he needs a banquet room for entertaining.
– Will I go to the banquets?
– Only men attend.
– What do they do?
– They talk.
– What do they talk about?
– You’re too curious. Do not be curious, it is our role as women not to know certain things of men and of the city and the world.
She took a bowl from her table and offered me sesame seed biscuits she had baked herself. They were so sweet, I wish mine were as good.
– They talk about politics and geography and history.
– Like the storyteller, with monsters and gods and princes?
– No. You do not understand, you’re too small. They discuss events, some ancient, they discuss kings and wars, temples and monuments, laws and poems.
– Tell me history, Mama, the whole history.
– I do not know.
– How do you know that they speak of history?
– I asked a servant.
– If you have asked, you wanted to know.
She sat up on her bed, wiping her tears.
– Enough now. Be docile, I beg you, otherwise you will make my life more difficult.
You have visited our old house, near the port, home to our cousins. It is less beautiful than this one. But the memories I have of Mama stayed there, I would miss her less if I lived there. Come, come and hold me tight in your small, tender arms.