Taymour Soomro

A Sublime Port extract

A Sublime Port

A Sublime Port extract

I start forgetting things. Sometimes I remember that I’m forgetting but sometimes I don’t so I keep a list. I note the consequences because I think that may provide an incentive for me to remember in the future.

Forgot: to wear sash.

Consequence: beaten on soles of feet and pay docked for three days as couldn’t work.

Forgot: to salute the Valide Sultan when she returned to the palace after an excursion to the Sweet Waters of Asia.

Consequence: beaten on the backs of knees with cane and pay docked for two days for insolence.

Forgot: to appear for dawn prayer.

Consequence: beaten on the ribs by mufti with bare hand and severe punishment undoubtedly to come in Afterlife.

Forgot: words and motions of midday prayer.

Consequence: no one noticed as initially forgot prayer time and so was at back of congregation. Punishment in Afterlife of course much worse—beg forgiveness from Almighty. 

The man who sleeps beside me in our barracks—an Assyrian with sad eyes and a handsome face that condemns him to the most menial jobs in the palace—provides me with kind and useful prompts when he sees me.

“What should you be remembering right now?”

“To have lunch.”

“To deliver the note in your hand —” (here he taps the package wrapped in an embroidered handkerchief that I am holding at my side) “—to the Sultana that the Master of the Robes gave you only minutes ago. Then to have lunch.”

I never forget lunch. Especially on the days we have aubergine and pilav.

Read more of A Sublime Port in Ninth Letter