The Conference of Concubines

The conference was not about the most valuable concubine, MVC but it could as well have been. For my neighbour who gave me details of the conference, had made that conclusion about all ten ladies and not a particular lady from the list. At first, he spoke as someone who was smitten, one that was enraptured by the beauty of the ladies. I didn’t blame him. I had to catch myself from following the initial drift as he regaled me with their beauty (you know how the mind likes to run when the leashes are loose) before he returned to the substance of the conference.

The concubines called the conference to talk about the only man in their lives. Himself a handsome dude. A king. Famed for liking them hot, like they say down town.

They gathered to discuss their fate following a series of tragic events, not least was the widely publicised incident of their rape by the crown prince. In an act of defiance against his father, the crown prince had raped all ten ladies publicly. Not that the public saw what he did to the ladies with their eyes. They only saw it in their imagination because he had the little sense to protect the modesty of the ladies. Contradiction, eh? Tell me about it.

Thankfully, the heavens saved the blushes of the ladies as none of them got pregnant from the incident.

Initially a few of them bemoaned the fact that the king, who had recently returned to his throne, called all of them together and announced that their shadows would no longer beautify the corners of his bedroom. Their most important service would no longer be required, and for reasons which they understood very well, that peculiar service was not transferrable to another. Kings did not tell it all. They got his message. Any future relations with another man would reflect badly on the throne. It was one of the explanations as to why none of them became pregnant following the rape incident. Complications unlimited would have been the definition of the situation if babies had been thrown into the mix. What if the ladies moved far away from the domain to enable the possibility of finding love again with doors to the previous chapter firmly shut? Nobody in the room wanted to probe the question deeper. Perhaps the impact of the heartbreak was more than was suspected.

There was no telling the fact that the brokenness quotient was highest among the younger ladies. When the most senior concubine, herself broken-hearted, tried to get some of the broken air out of the room, she was resisted. But she calmly and patiently regained control of the situation. “It is not completely over when the service of a concubine is no longer required,” she began.

And went on to address the pressing matters at hand. She urged the ladies to consider the fact that whereas their shadows would no longer beautify the corners of the bedroom of their primary love interest, he had made adequate and elaborate arrangements for their shelter, feeding and general welfare, for their entire life. They will lack nothing. They will never lack any form of comfort. Some of the ladies interrupted her here, saying that not all concubines were motivated by comfort. Some already were used to a life of comfort. They were in comfort and only wanted the love of their primary love interest.

The older woman knew where that path led so she gently guided them from there. Here is what she said and the emerging resistance dissolved: ‘There are three capsules, which our man has always ingested since I have known him. Some of you know these capsules but may not know how powerful

they can be. The first one is gratitude. Instead of being grouchy, we would be more thankful. Think about this for a moment. Of all the many pretty ladies in this domain, we were picked by our man. What if we were not courted? What would we have done about it? Besides, have you not noticed how quick he has been to express his gratefulness for every benefit he has enjoyed over time?

The second capsule is this: we must refuse any attempt to hate on, or be bitter towards him (whereupon one of the ladies screamed in agony, ‘I don’t have a child for him…’) Of course, nobody could speak immediately. It was the most painful moment in the room. And the huge reserve of tears that had been dancing around the already wet eyes, got their cue to unleash the vortex of tears. Each woman retired to the privacy of her heart as she took her bath under her tears.

When she sensed that the moment could be interrupted without any backlash, the senior concubine resumed her advice: ‘For all it’s worth, we should take some consolation from the solidarity of our shared condition. None of us has a child for him. But we have one another. We would not hate on him for that or any other reason. He has shown us by example that if men hate on you and attack you, and you reciprocate with love and consideration, God might show you mercy on account of your attitude.

Lastly, from this day we would sing with heart, diligence and industry. We would sing often and always. We are forming right away, the sisterhood of hearts. If he did not teach us anything at all, he taught us to sing. By example. Shall we begin?”

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