I’m in Susa today to interview a beauty queen. The fragrance is exquisite. Somewhere nearby a banquet is in full swing. The beautiful courtyard where I sit reminds me of a spa, but this place is more of a harem in reality. While I wait among bushes of pink flowering myrtle and bubbly fountains I am handed a gilded goblet by a veiled slave, who then bows and retreats. It is all a little strange.
I’m not left hanging. Esther arrives with her entourage of seven giggly maids and asks how I am and how my family are. I am touched by her thoughtfulness; when I enquire about her own family I learn that she was orphaned and has only an uncle. She was brought to this place six months ago and has been undergoing a course of special food and beauty treatments. Esther is something of a favourite and has been provided with the best rooms in the place. She is glowing and bright-eyed and has graduated Part One of her treatments. I take notes furiously; clearly Oil of Myrrh does wonders for your skin. Now she’s about to embark on her next six month course: Perfumes and Cosmetics.
Is she looking forward to it? She smiles. She has taken a real interest in the glamour business, having started from a very humble background. She is understandably nervous about meeting royalty in due course.
What does she credit her good fortune to, I ask? She is reticent in answering. One of the maids whispers that she does not worship the stars. That takes courage around here. She doesn’t like to talk about her faith, but she does acknowledge that she has been blessed.
Others have been gathering around to see what’s happening. Although Esther carries herself with a quiet dignity and poise, listening intently and smiling gently, I get the impression she likes to please people and they like her too. She has lost her family accent in order to fit in, but her beauty is unlike the others’ here; she has depth.
What dreams does she have for herself? She’s not really sure yet. Perhaps her purpose is just to be here doing what is required of her for such a time as this. I don’t think I’ll be the last one to be impressed by her.
Use Oil of Myrrh for a healthier glow!
Lucy Marfleet is a writer and educator who tries to tell the truth in imaginative ways. She has degrees in Theology and Biblical Studies and has worked in schools and prisons. Lucy lives with her husband and two children near Cambridge and blogs at www.lucymarfleet.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucymarfleet