incense, indian, aromatic


I had everything anyone could ever want.

What decorated my halls’ walls were pure pigments worth more than a king’s crown. The most otherworldly vivid patterns and colors could only be seen in my home. The architecture and it’s construction had taken hundreds of years to complete, made from marble and cement with gold flakes and crystalline minerals adorning many surfaces. Light entering through from the outside created a kaleidoscopic sight to behold as glass and molds skewed the sunshine itself. Swirling and balanced shapes of this blessed place were made of many mens’ sweat and pains from hard labor. And it was all mine regardless. Yes, it was extravagance at it’s finest.

Nacre and pearls, white weaved silk with gold cloth were what my handmaidens wore. They were the pampered sort that couldn’t remember a life outside of my influence. Perhaps it was a bad influence. They had grown ignorant of the common folk; their heads filled with scriptures, ballads, and how to best crush gems into dust to use as pigment for ceremonial paintings. 

“Oh Dearest, what would you like today?” One handmaiden asked. She held lilies in her clean smooth hands, placing one below my feet on one of the steps right below the throne and the others on flower pots on each side of the steps.

She smiled expecting no response, her eyes covered by a delicately ornate head shroud, fabric white and sparkling like snow.

“Yes, yes, I should burn some incense.” She gracefully placed one of the sticks of incense on the ornate incense holder next to her as she lit them carefully. “Dearest, the merchant had come today bearing a new incense I had not heard of before,” She paused and clasped her hands, the incense smoke wafting in small billows around the room. “These are made with pomegranate oil, you see.”

She always did this, starting menial conversation each time she could. I couldn’t say I hated it, however. This one palace had 45 handmaidens and many more servants, but I felt a hollow emptiness and loneliness. 

Many palace handmaidens had gotten sick on this moon cycle, the morning duties had to be filled by just three of them. It was already an extravagant number of women who would normally attend me and their duties, so it was no issue.

“I’ll sing my song, the one you taught me. I thank you for the peace you give us all, this land is rich and plentiful. This palace is beautiful.” She holds her nacre necklace, resplendently shining between her fingers. “And I thank you for letting me have such a privileged life, My Dearest Lady.”

Two other handmaidens came into the throne room accompanied by palace men that either chose to guard the door or clean. They opened the curtains and cleaned the walls for the first wash of the day. The handmaidens held trinkets and offerings and wrapped food, leaving them assorted on another step closer to the throne.

The first handmaiden that had entered the room faced me with intertwined hands close to her chest as she prepared her voice to sing.

The other two special handmaidens with larger more luxurious threaded dresses concentrated on performing in front of me with gentle expressions on their faces. Their movements synchronized as the other singed, their expensive cloth moved as if they were underwater, their full mastery of their body’s movement evident. The singing was in an old decorative language, you could swear there were the sounds of birds calling and waterfalls rolling in her singing voice.

Unlike other palaces, these handmaidens didn’t have to concentrate on “normal” tasks as they were unnecessary. They were more performers, artists, entertainers, and diviners devoted to the palace than anything else.

For several sweet moments, a highly trained masterpiece of a dance and a calming song of the olden days had played in front of me. When it finished, the air filled with their feelings of gratitude, expectation, and hard-work.

The one who sang lowered her hands calmly, with the sweetest smile I’d seen all week.

“Oh Dearest, this song is only for you, your blessings are holy and we all give our lives for you in our daily lives. May you keep ruling and providing us with everything we need and more.” She declared the obvious sentiment out of courtesy.

No response.

I wouldn’t be able to respond, and yet her smile stayed the same.

What a waste. That’s what I felt. It was a waste that all this was done for me, for I was just a symbol. I cannot interact with the people nor my own devotees. They only did all this because they thought it would please me and appease me enough to keep blessing this protected city, but it was not what I wanted. I only wish for the people’s happiness, but they oppress each other’s feelings into blind devotion. 

It was truly sad to see this young woman who praised me so – one who swore off marriage and a common life, for you see, I am but a statue that looks like a god. And such gods limited such as I are not worthy, nor do I want to be.