As I rummaged around the town, I saw colourful walls and domed buildings along the steep ground.
Air was making waves in the Ionian Sea that rimmed the coast of this town in Greece. I walked under the clean blue sky that resembled the walls I saw in the narrow streets.
I was lost in the beauty of the place and was walking while humming an unknown catchy tune I heard the previous night. Suddenly, I was caught in my way, stood silent, and stared at the splinter of a house in sight.
It was perfectly erect at the corners but rumbling at the centre. I wondered what it housed, whom it made home for, and so on before I entered.
The ceiling had caught rust while the walls were full of fungus and dents. They made an ugly background for a stunning painting in one of the room that was a little torn, its corners crumbled and the edges bent.
It must have been an opulent house of a wealthy minister with the coldest heart or a proud priest who taught orthodox lessons. I was pondering the possibilities when an old passer-by with his back bowed crookedly shouted what I was doing in the house of an infamous courtesan.
Frightened at first and observant later, I asked him if the painting was in fact the harlot herself. He snorted at me first but then nodded before limping away, leaving me alone in her half-broken shell.
The colours in the painting had faded away, but its beauty was undeniable even with the cobwebs and dust. It portrayed the courtesan’s barely veiled body and exposed voluptuous curves – a stunning personification of lust.
With long hair, brilliant eyes, red lips, and a sultry expression playing on her face, she looked like Aphrodite or Hausos. There was beauty, there was licentiousness that would have made any man Pothos.
She, the muse for the painting and the mistress of the house, had the face of a nymph or a siren who tempted men like prey for food. Only she looked beautiful and full of grace even when she was bare and candidly lewd.
Even after leaving that crumbling house, I couldn’t quite stop thinking about her, and looked for someone who could tell me more. I walked through the narrow, blue streets, and finally stopped in front of five old men who I thought could recite her lore.
They sat talking to each other on steep stairs when I stepped closure for a word. They stopped the inaudible mumbling and turned around once I was heard.
Their eyes widened and expressions changed into a look of wonder then anger then sorrow as if they were recalling the past in the mind. I looked at them hopefully until they resigned and asked me to sit; leaving me excited about everything I was about to find.
“She was beautiful….” started a man as the other cut him mid-sentence, “She was a goddess of sex.”, he exhaled with a dreamy look on his face. “She was every man’s last wish before death.” said the third “Mine wasn’t fulfilled.” he grimaced.
She walked as if no one was watching; as if she could be all naked amid a mass and still wouldn’t care. Her bold moves, broad mind, and voluptuous curves and her complexion so fair.
Men gathered to see her bosoms bounce when she nonchalantly walked on the streets of this town. Her long, slim arms swayed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, gently brushing her perfectly round bottoms like a lover tracing his fingers from over her blue silky gown.
They offered to walk her home or at least till the next block. They picked her bags and bought her jewellery studded with the most expensive rocks.
She crimsoned at the softest touch and smiled at the smallest act of love. She always wore the brightest tint of red on her lips and a pendant in shape of a white dove.
Freedom she enjoyed and freedom she loved the most; even when she was lying on the wrinkled bedsheet under a giant and heavy man. Her ribs were almost void of a heart and so it never came in the way of her occupation right from when it began.
The courtesan was born the day she turned sixteen and her father ran away with a girl just two years older than her. There was no want of pity in her eyes; she was surprisingly cheerful about her choice of being a streetwalker.
People saw her growing up from being a juvenile girl to this irresistible coquette with breasts of a Greek goddess and waist of a French maiden. Men fought for her, lied for her, some even killed for her, while their women suffered in that mayhem.
Men were often caught by their wives moving in their sleep, whispering her name, with their hands hidden under layers of the robe. They jumped on being caught wet handed, baring their wives’ off trust, love, and hope.
Her eyes were so bright a tint of green; they almost reflected the envy of all those women who lost their lovers and husbands in her bed. Some of them still spit at the sight of her painting as they walk past her broken house, years after she’s been dead.
Dead or alive, no one knows, no one has seen her ever since she suddenly disappeared one night. One might think she found her heart finally or lost herself to a rejected man’s broken pride.
All the town’s debauchery ended when the harlot went missing. They found her house half in splinters (and no one cared why) with only her room and her painting secure, leaving enough of her to keep all wantons wanting.
When the story was over, I couldn’t resist but ask the old men for her name. None knew, and no one cared for who she was despite her infinite fame.
A streetwalker, a harlot, a scarlet woman. An enigma of beauty and pleasure who could have easily been Aphrodite taking her revenge against the easy, prude, and indebted human.