Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Star Talker: Part 34: Zeinab

Photo by
Desert Winds Photography
The atmosphere on this tier couldn’t have been more different than the one we had just left. People milled about, laughing and talking. The clothes were of similar cuts, but lacked the excessive gaudy ornamentation. There were more uniforms and tool belts. Men had shorter hair or had their braids pulled back into queues or thicker braids. Several of the women had shorter dresses with fitted trousers beneath them, their hair tied up into fashionable knots with colorful ribbons woven through them. There were far fewer Lo’Rahni women on this tier. Or fewer who weren’t obviously mixed species. Branded women of various humanoid species moved in and out of shops and other businesses, escorted by male relatives or a slave walking a subtle number of steps behind them. 

No one here avoided Rha’han or threw him dirty looks. Several men stopped to greet him, and even a few women. The men didn’t acknowledge my presence until Rha’han introduced her. The women eyed me curiously. One stopped to greet him, but once she saw the brand on my chest she squealed and scurried off back the way she came. 

A few minutes later, the distinct sound of jingling announced a new figure walking quickly forward. I could only assume the magnificent woman before me was Zeinab. She was a full head taller than me, her stark brown eyes alight with delight. She wore a flowing caftan in a riot of color with traditional Islamic designs embroidered in gold on the silky fabric. Her hair was wrapped in an emerald tarheel scarf, topped with a headdress of golden payal bells. Large crescent moons stamped with calligraphy dangled from her ears, forcing her to keep her head lifted, emphasizing her elegant posture. Around her neck, she wore a traditional kirdan dowry necklace, with little coins draping from the downward turned crescents. Her wrists were heavy with jewel-encrusted bangles, and her caftan was just short enough to reveal the thick kholkhal of a married woman around her ankles above her soft gold-embroidered slippers that were the same color as her head scarf. 

Photo by Issam Barhoumi
She stopped abruptly in front of them, a small female slave of some species I’d never seen before standing a handful of paces behind her. Her gaze lit upon me and she squealed happily, catching me by the shoulders and pulling me into a hug. 

“Yes, yes!” She said in thickly accented Klotharan, kissing my cheek. “Sufiya said Rha’han had taken a wife! I did not believe her, you see. We feared he would be alone forever. We are very happy for him. You are very beautiful. He has done good with you.”

I blinked, a bit overwhelmed by her effusiveness. 

“Hello, Zeinab,” Rha’han said flatly. 

“Rha’han!” She said sharply, smacking his shoulder lightly with the back of her hand. “Why you not tell us about her?”

“I…” he started a bit helplessly.

Because he only met me two days ago,” I said in Arabic. 

“Two days? What did you do? Buy her at a market?” Suddenly, Zeinab seemed to realize that I hadn’t spoken Klotharan and her gaze whipped back to me in surprise. “You are Masriyat?”

I smiled. “Aiwa.”

Her smile widened, if that were possible, as she looked me up and down and back to Rha’han. “Beautiful and Masriyat?” She smacked his shoulder again. “Il-hamdu lilleh! You have outdone yourself, Rha’han.”

She snatched up my hands and pulled me in the direction from which she had come. “Come! Come, habibti! I shall give you a wedding feast!”   

Wicked Wednesday


  1. I always feel a little thrill go through me when I see you have written a new part for Star Talker. Love the enthusiasm of Zeinab :)
    ~ Marie

  2. A joyful meeting, which may turn into a feast.