Jennifer Keogh Armstrong
Among the sons of Seth
by Jennifer L. Armstrong
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
First Edition Print V1.1 2012
nd Yah commanded the man, saying, “Eat of every tree of the garden . . .”
I hold the manuscript with care. The room is dim and I am all alone, but I still glance over my shoulder. I am on the second floor and I would hear anyone coming up the stairs, but it makes me nervous just the same. I do not know why. These words are not forbidden. More like forgotten.
My finger follows the writing as it goes on to tell the story of Adam, our father, and Hawwa, our mother. In all the world, only one thing was forbidden to them. Fruit from a tree, a tree that bestowed the knowledge of good and evil.
On the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.
Except that nobody does. Apart from Abel. And nobody talks about him.
I hear someone coming up the stairs and hurriedly put away the manuscript. How it came to be in this room, I have no idea. It is in a small trunk, underneath some rough woollen garments. The trunk is clearly my brother's craftsmanship. Tubal-Cain's skill with bronze and iron is known throughout the city of Cain.
It is only Naamah coming up the stairs. She has come up to see what is taking me so long. I was sent up to the stuffy, crowded room to get some more bronze platters.
“Sorry,” I say.
“They're heavy,” she says, in that understanding way of hers.
We shouldn't speak like this. Our language is rich and Naamah and I have an awful habit of speaking in the short, clipped talk of our childhood.
We have always been close, two daughters of the same mother. Our father Lamech, has two wives, Adah and Zillah. Zillah is our mother, as well as Tubal-Cain's. Adah has two sons, Jabal and Jubal.
Jabal no longer lives in Enoch with us. As a young man, he would take our father's robes and stretch them out wherever he could, creating fun little rooms for us children to play in. As a grown man, he took animal skins and did the same thing. Now he lives out in the fields with his tents and the other tent dwellers. They have their flocks and though he lives a simple life, Jabal is a wealthy man. City dwellers go out and live in tents and discover they like it.
Jubal divides his life between the city and the fields. He is an accomplished musician and is most popular among the tent-dwellers when he plays his flute for them around their evening fires. In the city, he plays the harp for the wine-drinkers in the taverns. During the day, he has students that he teaches his skills to.
Our family is not wealthier than other families in Enoch, nor are we especially powerful. But Lamech has made us different by taking two wives. To take two wives is to deny another man one wife.
But there is more. There is a story about my father that people discuss in the evenings over their wine. It is said that thirty years ago, he killed a young man. No one knows who the young man was, just a visitor to the city, but for some reason, he and my father fought. The man wounded my father and my father retaliated by killing him.
So people in Enoch are cautious around my father.
For that matter, I am cautious around my father. We all are. In some ways, Tubal-Cain is more of a father to me than him. Naamah and I live with Tubal-Cain and his family now, in the apartments beside the store.
Naamah helps me carry the bronze platters downstairs. Our shelves are well-stocked and Tubal-Cain insists that they stay that way. For the wealthier customers, Tubal-Cain will make custom items, but most people are happy with what is in the store.
There is a lady waiting impatiently. But she cheers visibly when she sees the load of platters in our arms. Of the twenty-two plates we have in stock, she purchases twenty. She has no way of carrying them home, but that is no problem in Enoch. There are plenty of young lads, the ones who are still under fifty who have not started their families yet, who can be hired to carry a load. There is no indignity to the work. We are all children of Cain here.
It was our mother Hawwa who brought the knowledge of good and evil into the world.
She is the mother of all living and Cain was her first-born son. The story is told that upon his birth, she held him high and cried out to our Elohim, Yah, that he had given her a man. Abel, his brother, was born shortly after.
The writings in the trunk talk of a garden, a garden unlike the Land of Wandering. Our Father Cain settled in the Land of Wandering and built this city. But the Garden . . .
Naamah interrupts my thoughts.
“It's him!” she says to me. In her excitement, she forgets to speak in the fullness of our language. Tubal-Cain does not care if we speak like children in our apartment, but he insists that in the shop, we must speak with refinement. In our language, to convey that a man is within sight can be expressed in only a few words, but the words contain a wealth of meaning and tell you where the man is, what direction he is coming from, and even whether he is young or old. But Naamah does not have to speak properly for me to understand.
Naamah has her eyes (and her heart) focused on only one man. He is our cousin, Qayin, and we share the same grandfather, Methushael. It is generally understood that a man will be married by the time he is fifty and our cousin, Qayin, is now in his late forties.
Tubal-Cain is ambivalent about me and Naamah getting married. He does not want to lose us in the shop. His own wife has no interest in standing here all day and his daughters are too young to be here. But he knows that we cannot be without husbands for much longer.
I have never met any sons of Seth or the other sons of Adam, but the sons of Cain are strong and handsome, and Qayin is in no way an exception with his dark eyes and wavy shoulder-length black hair. His muscles show through a white cotton shirt and dark woollen trousers.
My sister Naamah is as beautiful as any daughter of Cain, but I do not think Qayin appreciates it. Today, he comes into the shop and bluntly asks to see his cousin, Tubal-Cain. That we are his cousins too is of no interest to him. But in order to give my sister some time alone with Qayin, I volunteer to go into the back courtyard to look for our brother.
Behind the store is a large area where he and his artisans work.
“Sister!” Tubal-Cain looks up from the iron railing he and another man are working on. Only the wealthy can afford such things to act as barriers against falling off the roof. But, of course, it is the rich who have their lavish wine parties on their roofs and risk losing a guest if they do not provide some kind of protection for their staggering visitors.
Tubal-Cain wipes his hands on his apron and comes over to kiss me on both cheeks. He is in a good mood and he does not even know about the sale of twenty platters yet. But my brother has always been a kind man. I would be content to have a husband like him.
“Qayin is here to see you,” I say.
Tubal-Cain sighs and rolls his eyes.
“He will not go to our father, so he comes to me.”
“What business does he have with our father?” I ask, taking his arm as we return inside.
But Tubal-Cain just shakes his head and covers my lips with a finger. His fingers always smell like metal.
“Qayin!” My brother greets our cousin with the same pleasure he greets all the people who come into the shop. He has a way of making people feel welcome, not as paying customers, but as special guests.
“Tubal-Cain,” says Qayin, returning my brother's hug with a brisk coolness.
“What can we do for you, Qayin?” says Tubal-Cain, including me and Naamah in the exchange.
But Qayin doesn't want to include us. He jerks his dark head toward a side room where we take our meals while in the shop. Tubal-Cain nods and leads him into the small room, but he keeps the door slightly ajar.
Naamah and I are wide-eyed. We both have the same thought. When the men talk like this, they are arranging a marriage. I do not blame Naamah for wanting to hear what is going on. Although passersby pause to look into our glass windows and examine the fine-details of Tubal-Cain's work, no one comes in. Of one mind, Naamah and I move closer to the door.
“Why is your sister named Havilah?” Qayin is demanding. For one sick moment, I fear that he is asking for me in marriage.
“I was young when they named her. I did not ask. Why?”
Qayin does not answer his question.
“What I am about to tell you, you must tell no one. Not even your wife.”
“My wife? My wife will have at least five things to tell me when I walk through the door. I doubt I will be able to tell her anything about my day.”
Qayin is not interested in Tubal-Cain's domestic situation.
“A man in the tavern, a trader, showed me a different metal. One I had never seen before.”
Tubal-Cain murmurs something agreeable.
“He said it came from the land of Havilah. Tubal-Cain, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before.”
“In what why?”
“It had a different shine to it . . .” The fact that Qayin must search for words is an indicator of how unusual this metal is. “More like the sun,” he finally says.
“Hmmm,” says our brother, taking this in.
Now that Naamah knows it is not a marriage proposal she has moved away from the door, visibly deflated.
“I have borrowed money from Jabal,” says Qayin.
“Foolish, foolish.” I cannot see it, but I know my brother is shaking his head. There is only one way to become a slave in our city and that is to be unable to repay a debt.
“You would not say that if you saw this metal. I used the money to purchase the man's whole hoard. And I will make four times the amount of money I borrowed from Jabal.”
“But why come to me?”
“Because it is not enough to simply have a metal. One must do something with it.”
“Ah,” says Tubal-Cain. “You want me to work it. What sort of things . . . ”
“It is not a huge quantity. It would have to be jewellery. Smaller items. But, Tubal-Cain, the wealthy would be willing to pay much for such an exquisite metal. And with your craftsmanship, the amount they would be willing to pay would only increase. You would have your share, of course . . .”
I move away from the door.
Naamah is listlessly helping a woman select an iron pot. I go over and gently squeeze her shoulders. The woman is an aunt on our mother's side. She is shrill in demanding that the pot be of a certain thickness and I patiently point out that if a pot is too thick it will take the water longer to boil.
My sister has moved back to behind the counter, to be alone and away from the demands. Like Qayin, Naamah has dark eyes and long dark hair. I am the only one in our family to have hair the colour of grass at the time of harvest and olive-green eyes. It is not right that someone as beautiful as Naamah should be so unhappy. And it is no use telling her that Qayin is not a kind man. Though Naamah is quick to see the good in things, she is blind to the evil, I think. Tubal-Cain's wife is the opposite. She always assumes the worst. It is only Tubal-Cain who can see both and still choose the good. For my own part, I long for something else . . .
The manuscript in the trunk talks of a garden. It is a strange story and not well known among the people of Enoch. Hawwa ate the fruit of a tree that was forbidden and made us all like Yah, our creator. Hawwa didn't have to choose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was another tree in the garden. The Tree of Life.
I wonder what Life would have tasted like?
he Pishon skirts the whole land of Havilah where there is precious metal, bdellium and shoham stone,” Qayin is saying. He and Tubal-Cain are back in the small room that runs off of the main showroom.
“Onyx,” says Tubal-Cain, nodding. “I have seen it. It is a beautiful stone. Though it is rare.”
“It is not indigenous to the Land of Wandering,” says Qayin. He has some kind of a map and is tracing his finger around it. He barely said hello to me and Naamah.
Tubal-Cain has kept his word and not said anything to us about Qayin's new metal. Today, Qayin came hurrying into the shop with a bundle of goatskin and announced that he must see Tubal-Cain immediately. I had to go upstairs where my brother was having a midday meal with his wife and seven children. His wife glared at me for taking him away from their family meal.
Inside the goatskin is the new metal.
Naamah and I cannot see it, but from Tubal-Cain's admiring appraisal, we know it must be impressive. When he inquired about where this metal was mined, Qayin brought out the map they are now examining.
“I have never laid eyes on the Pishon river,” says Tubal-Cain, thoughtfully.
“Neither have I. Of the four rivers, I have only seen the Tigris and the Gihon. The Gihon goes around the whole land of Cush.”
The other river is the Euphrates. I know this without seeing the map. The manuscript in the trunk speaks of the four rivers that flow from the Garden. It is common knowledge that there is an enormous body of water west of the Land of Wandering. But it is from a tributary of our closest river, the Tigris, that the city of Enoch gets its water.
“I know,” says Tubal-Cain. “Though I have never seen it myself. Jabal has though. When you have a tent and livestock, you can go anywhere.”
“And what about Havilah?” says Qayin, shrewdly. I know he is not talking about me.
Tubal-Cain is quiet for a moment.
“My father met a man from there once,” he says. “But I was too young to remember it. I would not be surprised if my sister was named for the occasion of their meeting.”
“What happened to the man?”
“How would I know?” Tubal-Cain says. “I doubt very much he settled here.”
“No, why would he?” Qayin agrees.
“Now,” says Tubal-Cain. “What will we do with this?” He has obviously turned his attention back to the new metal.
Naamah is not even bothering to listen to this conversation, so she has been serving the customers. But now there are too many for her to handle by herself. I turn my attention to the man who has just walked through the door.
For one moment, I am startled. This man is taller than even Qayin. And if possible, he is even more handsome, in a darker way.
His smile melts me. Naamah glances at him but then turns back to her customer. He is not Qayin, so he is not of interest to her. In any case, all his attention is on me.
“Permit me to assist you,” I say, carefully, speaking in the refined language.
He bows slightly.
“As you wish.” It is the polite rejoinder.
“May I show you our collection?”
It is a test. Most people are in a hurry and just say, “No, show me your . . .” and then name what they want. But the truly polite person will allow themselves to be shown around the whole shop and when they have seen everything, only then will they divulge what it is they have come into the store for.
“I would be honoured.”
The man is two heads taller than me and my usual poise fails me as I take him around the store and point out various items. He responds with perfect ease, making compliments about the craftsmanship. But I get the sense that he is more interested in me than he is in the objects I am showing him.
I am not beautiful like Naamah. When people speak of “Tubal-Cain's sister” they are always speaking of Naamah.
The tour complete, it is now time for the man to reveal what he really wants to buy. He walks slowly back to a glass display-case of knives. Tubal-Cain's knives are as ornamental as they are functional. Shepherds prize them for their sharpness. City-dwellers carry them for show. With great care, the man now looks over the whole collection.
At last, he points to one.
“An excellent choice,” I say. I am not just being polite. The blade is iron, the handle is an ebony wood. There is no other like it. It took Tubal-Cain three days to make it.
When the man nods, that indicates that he has made his choice.
I unlock the case and remove the knife.
“Would you like it wrapped?” I ask, handling the knife cautiously. The blade is freshly sharpened.
“No, I have a sheath.” The man pulls back his cloak to reveal a finely-crafted leather scabbard on his left hip. I hand him the knife and he inserts it into the sheath.
“How will you be paying?” I ask.
He adjusts his cloak to access a leather pouch on his right hip. He is opening it as Qayin and Tubal-Cain exit the small room. My brother is quick to note the distinguished visitor. I can see that, like me, he is impressed by the man's stature and equally curious about what he has purchased. Qayin, on the other hand, is visibly annoyed by the man's presence. Usually it is Qayin who is the most handsome man in any room.
“With these stones,” the man says, the pouch open. Casually he drops several round smooth stones onto one of our tables. Tubal-Cain comes over to examine them.
With a quick welcome to be courteous he then asks the stranger, “What are these?” Clearly intrigued, my brother has picked up one of the stones and is studying it with the care of an expert. Even Qayin, heading for the door, pauses and comes back to join him.
“This noble visitor selected the ebony knife,” I say helpfully. Without knowing what the man has purchased, Tubal-Cain will be unable to determine whether this is a fair trade.
But Tubal-Cain barely hears me. I am the only one close enough to him to hear him mutter, “I have never seen anything like these.”
“Is it sufficient?” the man asks.
“Yes, friend,” says Tubal-Cain, looking up. “It is sufficient. And I wish you well.”
The man nods but lingers. Tubal-Cain has already turned his attention back to the stones. Qayin is watching over his shoulder, obviously envious of my brother's acquisition. I feel it is my duty to escort the man to the door, though I admit, with the women purchasing pots, I usually let them find their own way to the exit.
The man's smile is as dazzling as the sun that now shines on the white stones of the plaza outside my brother's store.
We both hesitate at the door. As the one who tends the store, it is my job to open it, but it is the man who pulls back the shimmering glass door.
I want to know more. Will I see him again? Does he live in Enoch? Who is he? Why is he a head taller than every other man out in the street? The words that come out of my mouth are not the words of my heart, but I am curious.
“Where did you find such beautiful stones?” I ask.
We are now standing just outside the shop.
“They are the rocks that sparkle on the surface of the moon, my lady.”
The man winks at me and then he is gone.
With weak legs, I go back inside and return to the table where Tubal-Cain and Qayin are still examining the stones. I am not sure that I believe the man's explanation.
“They are perfectly spherical,” Tubal-Cain is saying. “And yet, I see no sign of a tool being used on them.”
Tubal-Cain walks over to the window with one of the stones and holds it up to the light. The stones were a shimmering grey on the table, but now in the light, they are like liquid.
“Extraordinary,” Tubal-Cain says, shaking his head.
Naamah is examining Qayin as he examines the stone. I sigh. My poor sister.
Now I have a reason to be just as moody as Naamah.
My eyes scan the crowds that move through the streets. The plaza outside the store is bustling with temporary stalls. The people that have purchased Jabal's tents and make a living with their livestock and their fields come into town once a week to buy and sell. Large mats of produce are being examined by city people while the field-dwellers move in and out of the shops making weekly purchases. A few have come in here today for pots, knives and other metal items. My mind wanders too greatly to give any of them much thought.
It is the final words of the stranger. My lady. He could have just said O lady. That would have been the correct form. And the stranger had excellent manners, so he would know that. But he used the possessive form of the female gender. And not only did he address me in the possessive, he used the form that denotes complete possession. Body . . . and soul. Even husbands and wives do not always talk that way to each other. It is a form that is reserved for people who are both married and lovers. Not just people who bear children together, but for people who know each other completely. It is safe to say that Tubal-Cain and his wife do not use this form when they address one another.
It is a startling way for a man to speak to an unmarried woman.
And I have not been able to stop thinking about him. And so today, I continue to scan the crowds.
It would be easy to see the man with the moon stones, if he were here. Even among the field-dwellers, no one has his height.
Why should I think of such a man? I will most likely never see him again.
I return my attention to rearranging some tin cups. The tin cups sell particularly well when the field-dwellers come into town. The city people prefer glass or delicate glazed pottery for their water or spiced wine.
Such a man probably already has two wives and is the chieftain of a town by the Tigris - someplace that my brother and Qayin do not know about, someplace that has shimmering stones and a way of shaping them that the sons of Cain are unfamiliar with.
There are other tribes. Other sons of Adam. They are the Other People.
Many people do not even know why our Father Cain came to the Land of Wandering. I know because of the manuscript in the trunk. People do not know that Cain had a brother named Abel. And that Abel was the reason why our Father Cain could not farm the land anymore and had to build a city instead.
And most people have never even met a son of Seth. Only the travellers and traders. Seth was born after Abel and after Cain had already gone.
The writings in the trunk say something too awful for me to ever repeat to anyone. Indeed, too awful to even think about.
The manuscript also says that when Cain left his father and mother he also left the presence of Yah. Such a thing fills me with horror and yet, I hardly know why. Except that to be away from the presence of one's creator seems to me to be unutterably tragic. And yet, I do not know what it is like to be in his presence!
Is it possible that the visitor to our shop was a son of Seth? Is it possible he has been in the presence of Yah? The thought makes me breathless.
The more I think about it, the more I decide, it is most likely. It would explain why he is so different. After all, when has a son of Seth ever come to Enoch? Perhaps they are all like him, tall and noble.
Although it is satisfying to solve a mystery, it is disappointing to know that in all likelihood, I will never see the man again.
Naamah is as restless as I am. The fact that it is market day does not increase the chance that Qayin will come to the shop, but the new metal might bring him in. Rather than work in the courtyard with the other men, our brother is working with the new metal in the small room off of the shop. He and Qayin call it “gold” because it is as golden as the sun. It is likely that Qayin will stop by just to check on Tubal-Cain's progress.
Naamah's robe is too elegant for the store. If Tubal-Cain notices, he does not say anything. His mind is too full these days, anyhow. Some of the city's wealthiest citizens have been stopping by the store to see his new creations. Qayin is eager to sell some pieces of jewellery made with the new metal. Plus, there is the issue of the stones brought in by the stranger. Tubal-Cain made a daring proposition to Qayin. There are three stones. He could use some of Qayin's metal to create a necklace with the three stones set in a pendant. The lady in Enoch who wears it would have something entirely unique and there would be no limit to the price Tubal-Cain could put on it. Tubal-Cain says that in exchange for the gold needed to make the necklace, he would forfeit his share in the profits of all the other gold jewellery. Qayin has agreed, although, with his suspicious nature, he probably thinks it is an asymmetrical deal.
“Perhaps we should visit our mother tonight,” I say to Naamah. Our mother, Zillah, is the second wife of our father and it has been hard for her. Adah, Lamech’s first wife, was never a kind woman, though in later years, she has mercifully spent a lot of time with Jabal and his children among the tent-dwellers, leaving Zillah alone in the townhouse. I am hoping that by going to visit our mother, Naamah will be reminded that life with a man, even a handsome one, is not easy.
“Perhaps,” Naamah murmurs.
“Have you seen the beautiful earrings Tubal-Cain made?” I move closer to her so that the only customer in the store, a shepherd examining a cast-iron stove, will not hear.
“They are beautiful,” Naamah agrees. Tubal-Cain's delicate filigree drop earrings will be a success in Enoch. The do not use up a lot of the gold, but they take a long time to make.
“What is it?” I ask. My sister is lost in thought.
“He did not just make earrings,” she says.
“I know. He made some rings too.”
“Exactly,” says Naamah.
“What do you mean?” I glance at the shepherd. He is exiting the store.
“Did you hear what Qayin said to Tubal-Cain?”
I shake my head. Unlike Naamah, I do not monitor all of Qayin's words.
“He said . . . ” Naamah pauses.
“He said they would be good for engaged couples.”
“Engaged couples?” I say. “How so?”
Naamah holds out her left hand and points to the finger beside her smallest one.
“He says that the vein in this finger is connected to the heart . . .”
My eyes widen.
“Where did he learn this?” I say. “As far as I know, he counts no physicians among his friends.”
“. . . and we, that is, he and Tubal-Cain, can sell rings to engaged couples, as a pledge. A woman can wear a ring to save her heart for one man.”
“Gold rings, I suppose,” I say drily.
“Well, yes,” says Naamah. “But even other metals when the gold is all used.”
But this is not my sister's point. She is still restless.
“And . . . ?” I say.
“And I think maybe one of the gold rings will be for me,” she says.
I hope my jaw does not drop.
“What makes you say that?” I ask.
“He asked our brother to put one aside.”
I think about this. That is news. But does it mean that the ring is for Naamah?
There is no reason why I should not discuss this with Tubal-Cain. Our sister needs to know, once and for all, whether or not she will ever be the wife of Qayin. But I will have to wait until my sister is not around. My opportunity comes when Naamah leaves the store to get our midday meal. Tubal-Cain's wife will have made us something. Normally, he would eat it with her in the apartment, but these days, he is eager to finish working with the gold.
Even though I know he does not want to be disturbed, I hurry into the side room as soon as Naamah disappears from sight. Thankfully, the shop is empty of customers.
“Dear brother,” I say, hurriedly, trying not to startle him as he works carefully on a ring. “I would not disturb you except that this is important.”
“Yes?” he says, shifting the magnifying lenses from his eyes to the top of his head.
“It is Naamah,” I say. “She has heard that Qayin asked for one of your rings to be put aside.”
Tubal-Cain nods slightly.
“And she has also heard that the rings are to be pledges between men and women.”
“Yes,” says my brother. “It is silly idea, I think. But he has decided that people will buy more rings from me, as a result.”
“Possibly,” I say. “But my concern is Naamah. She thinks the ring that Qayin has asked for will be for her.”
“Ahhh,” says my brother. He bites his lip slightly and for the moment, the ring he is shaping is forgotten. “No. I am afraid it is not.”
“For another woman?” I ask, boldly. If Qayin has confided in Tubal-Cain, he will not be able to tell me.
“No, I do not believe so.”
“Then for who?” I ask.
“For the man who suggested the idea to him,” says Tubal-Cain.
“A physician?” I ask.
My brother shakes his head and then remembers the lenses on his head. He grabs them quickly before they fall and break.
“No. For the man who bought the dagger and paid with the stones.”
I just stare at him.
Tubal-Cain returns his attention to the ring and it is my dismissal. I return to the store to find an impatient tent-dweller who wants some help selecting some iron sheep-clippers. Not my interest, but I direct him to a premium pair and assure him that they will still be working a hundred years from now.
Stones from the moon and now a ring for a finger that's vein goes straight to the heart! Who is this man?
And how did Qayin come to be talking to this man?
Now I am just as eager as Naamah to see Qayin come into the shop. But what will Naamah say when she finds out the ring is not for her?
ear cousin!” I say to Qayin. He is startled. So is Naamah.
He pauses halfway across the shop floor. He was just going to go straight to the small room without a glance at me or Naamah.
“Good afternoon, Havilah,” he says, formally.
“Good afternoon, Qayin,” I reply. “How kind you are to visit.”
He has not come to visit, but by saying this, I require him to stop to make polite conversation. It will be brief, I am sure, so I make the most of it.
“We are still talking about the beautiful stones,” I say to him. I do not need to tell him what stones I am referring to. “Where could the man possibly have found such gems?”
Now Qayin is torn. He does not want to waste time with me, but he knows something and will enjoy feeling superior if he divulges it to me.
“He is a stranger,” says Qayin.
“Really?” I say, trying not to let it leak out that this is manifestly obvious.
“He drinks in the taverns.”
This surprises me. A son of Seth, in the taverns? I do not know why, but this does not sound right.
That is the extent of Qayin's divulgence. But it is enough to explain how Qayin had contact with the man after he left this shop.
And now Qayin is disappearing into the small room.
“What did you do that for?” Naamah practically hisses at me.
“For information,” I say, quietly.
“Oh,” she says.
It is not easy but she has to know.
“The ring is not for you,” I say, gently but bluntly. “And I want to know why Qayin now believes that a vein on a finger leads to the heart.”
It is a silly explanation, but Naamah is too stunned with sorrow to really be listening to the words. I put my arms around her and she leans against me. The one customer in the store, an older woman examining a bronze jewellery box, glances at us and then decides to mind her own business.
“Sister!” I say. “It is time that our brother finds you a husband!”
“I cannot make him speak to Qayin,” she says.
“There are many other men in Enoch,” I say. Inspiration strikes me and I lower my voice even more. “Sister, I do not believe he is the one for you. He has borrowed money from Jabal. If he cannot repay it, he will become a slave. But if he is married, he could give you to Jabal instead to repay the debt.”
Naamah's eyes widen, but she quickly answers, her voice reproachful.
“He would never do such a thing!”
Oh yes he would, I think.
“And besides, he will repay the money.”
“This time, yes,” I say. “Because our brother makes the most exquisite jewellery in all of Enoch. But what about next time? A man who borrows money is not a man to marry. You and your children could all end up in slavery.”
Naamah cannot argue with this. Our brother would never borrow money. A man who truly cares for his family would rather do without than risk losing them to his benefactor.
I am so focused on Naamah that I do not notice the next customer who comes in. When someone comes up to the counter, I think it is the lady with the jewellery box.
“Good day to you, ladies.”
The voice is deep and rich.
Now it is Naamah who needs to hold me up.
It is him!
Even in my weakened state, I notice a curiosity. The implication of wishing someone a good day is to wish them God's blessing. Everyone knows God created us and that to have his blessing is advantageous. I think I might be the only one who knows that our Father Cain has brought us to a land where the words are hollow. But it is a polite sentiment to wish upon someone. Except that the man has not wished us God's blessing, only a good day. He has removed the aspect from the word “good” that implies that the source of goodness is beyond us. He has implied that the day itself is good.
But his smile pushes all further thoughts from my mind.
“Is the man, Qayin, present?” he asks.
“Yes, noble one,” I say. How absurd I must sound. The phrase is used for those who lord over us, not for a man who comes into Tubal-Cain's shop. Even Naamah is looking at me. But the man does not seem to mind. His smile, if possible, gets even broader.
Whether it is Naamah's intention to give me a few moments alone, or whether it is just her desire to speak directly to Qayin, she volunteers to go tell him he has a visitor.
The stranger and I are left staring at one another. I know we do not have much more than the time that it takes for a few drops of sand to fall through the glass, but I do want to know something.
“I am Havilah,” I say.
“And I am Semjaza the Nephilim,” he replies. It is an unusual name. I have never heard it before. And I have heard of no tribe with the name Nephil. I turn my head slightly and see Qayin pushing his way past Naamah to hurry over to the counter.
Semjaza speaks before Qayin has a chance.
“I have come for the ring.” Semjaza's tone is sharp and commanding. I have to hide my amusement at seeing my proud cousin slightly bow to this stranger.
“It is finished,” says Qayin. “It is the reason I came today.”
Tubal-Cain comes out of his small workroom, wiping his hands on his apron. He greets Semjaza like he would any customer.
Meanwhile, Qayin is backing toward the workroom, still bowing slightly. I have never seen anything like it. Even the elders of the city do not get this kind of deference. Then he disappears behind the curtain, reappearing with the ring. He holds it out for Semjaza's approval.
Semjaza takes it from him and examines it.
“Very good,” he says, finally. Again, he uses the word good in a way that implies that the goodness is in the ring itself. When someone tells Tubal-Cain his work is good, there is always the implication that it is because of the favour of God.
I wonder what it is that Semjaza knows. If he speaks of moon rocks and veins to the heart, why does he also imply that goodness exists apart from the creator? Then it occurs to me . . . Hawwa's tree! Good and evil do exist apart from the creator! But we children of Cain have always huddled around the good, using it in our language, as a buffer . . . from the evil.
I look more carefully at Semjaza.
The way he speaks tells me that if he can look at good and isolate it, then he can also look at evil and isolate it. Such a thing suggests that the man has no fear.
Is this what the sons of Seth believe? It is awesome to comprehend, for it means that God is not found in the good or the evil. He is found somewhere else.
Now the ring must be paid for. Will there be more moon rocks?
No. Now Semjaza has what most people use. The bronze coins that come from the same copper that my brother Tubal-Cain works with.
The price for the ring is high. I try not to let my eyes widen as Semjaza puts down the coins. Qayin looks positively greedy. I believe this is his first sale.
“May the ring be a blessing to you,” says Tubal-Cain, respectfully, as Semjaza puts the ring into his pouch.
“It will be beneficial for me . . . and for my lady.” With a glance at me, he takes a few strides and is out the door. My legs are hardly able to hold me up and I must grasp the counter for support. But Qayin is too busy counting the coins again for anyone to notice.
Dear Naamah! I look at my sister. While Semjaza goes off with the ring that she thought had been intended for her, Qayin looks to the coins with the love she would like him to have for her! I must talk to Tubal-Cain about finding her a husband. A good man.
Tubal-Cain and Qayin disappear back into the room. All the coins are now in Qayin's pocket. I will be curious to see which lady of Enoch wears the necklace that is my brother's payment.
Naamah and I are not fit to work. A physician would, no doubt, advise us both to lie down, but although there is a beautiful iron bed-frame in one corner of the shop, there is not even a place for Naamah and I to sit. The reason is, Tubal-Cain says he cannot stand the sight of the shopkeepers who sit on stools all day, eating sunflower seeds and spitting them out, while they call out to the customers.
But we do have the second floor.
I tell Naamah to go upstairs and rest. The room is filled with surplus stock, but there are also trunks of old clothing – Tubal-Cain's wife's cast-offs that are being saved for their daughters. One could make oneself comfortable.
Wearily, Naamah nods. Is it possible that love could make a woman sick? I watch my sister goes up the narrow stairway. Is this what Hawwa felt for Father Adam? Our own Father Cain has a wife, his sister Awan, who came with him to this Land of Wandering. Did she follow him because she was sick with love for him as my sister is for Qayin?
Would I follow Semjaza to an unknown land, leaving behind my parents and the presence of Yah?
There will be no further thought for me this day. Naamah does not relieve me in the shop and the rest of the afternoon is spent taking care of customers. Tent-dwellers come and go. The city people do not bother visiting the shops when the tent-dwellers come, preferring to come another day of the week when it is not so crowded. But they mill out in the market square, examining the produce and the animal skins. Tubal-Cain's wife will be among them, selecting a week's supply of beans, grains, potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes, and whatever else the tillers of the soil have brought in today. It will be fresh vegetables and bread for dinner tonight.
Tubal-Cain is still working in the small room when I am finally able to bring down the awnings that protect our glass windows and lock the front door. I tiptoe up the stairs to check on Naamah and find her sleeping on one of our brother's wife's old animal skins. I go back down and tell Tubal-Cain that tonight I will go and visit our mother.
He nods as he works.
“I would go with you if I were not so busy,” he says. “The streets are not always safe.”
“It has always been that way.”
Tubal-Cain shakes his head.
“You are younger,” he says. “But I remember a time when no one ever had to fear the streets at night.”
The only reason I know that it is true is because of our father. Had he killed a man today, it would not seem so shocking.
“I will be careful,” I promise.
“I would feel better if you had an escort,” says Tubal-Cain, looking up from the ring he is working on. “Or if you waited until I could accompany you. Is it important that you speak with our mother tonight?”
I hesitate. I think our mother would understand that Naamah needs a husband and I am hoping that she would advise me how I can help her. At the same time, I would like to ask her if she has ever met a son of Seth.
Tubal-Cain is torn. He has the gold to work on but it is an honourable activity to visit our mother and I know it has been much longer since he has seen her than I have.
“I will go soon,” he says. “Then we will go together.”
His eyes return to his work.
“I will not be there for the evening meal,” he adds. Lovely. It will be me who has to convey this to his wife who will act like slicing some tomatoes was a big accomplishment and that it is somehow my fault that her husband has too much work. I sigh and go back into the main shop, now darkened by awnings covering the glass.
It is just as dark outside when I step out into the cool night air for the short walk to the apartment. The market is now quiet. There are only a few tent-dwellers left in the city, mostly young men who are heading for the taverns with their day's earnings.
When a male voice startles me, my first fear is that a tent-dweller is about to accost me.
But it is Semjaza. He grabs my arm as I nearly fall into him. And then his arm is around my waist, supporting me.
“Careful,” he repeats.
“Thank you,” I manage to say.
“It is my duty,” is his correct reply. “Where are you heading in this darkness?”
“Only to the next door,” I say.
“Would you like an escort?” he asks and I can see his smile by the fading sun.
I manage to straighten up and even to laugh.
“No,” I say. “I think I can make it on my own.”
Despite this, I am escorted to the front of the green door that will open to the stairs going up to the small apartment I share with Naamah. Of course, first I will have to stop on the main floor to let Tubal-Cain's wife know that it will just be me for the evening meal.
“Would you perhaps care to join me tonight?” Semjaza asks.
For the moment, I do not know what to say. Then I am indignant.
“I am not a woman who frequents taverns,” I say.
“I would not take you to a tavern, my lady.” My lady.
“Instead,” he continues, “I would take you to the stars.”
“With a stop along the way for some more moon rocks,” I say drily, trying to sound calm despite my beating heart.
He laughs and takes me hand, to wrap it around his arm. I hesitate slightly. Would Tubal-Cain approve? And then I tell myself, Tubal-Cain is only concerned about my safety. He wanted me to have an escort and now I do. No man would dare accost me with Semjaza at my side. But the small thought at the back of my mind is, who will protect me from Semjaza?
e call it Neptune,” Semjaza is saying. “It is a planet of oceans.” He is looking thoughtfully at the sky. “There is a storm there right now.”
How does he know? I can just barely see the blue dot he calls Neptune. And who calls it Neptune? The sons of Seth? Semjaza speaks of the planets as if he has visited each one and is familiar with all of their contours. There were the gas planets, two of them, both larger, he assures me, than I could ever imagine, though they may look small in our night sky. It is only because they are so far away. One of them has rings around it, the other has moons.
“And does each star have a name?”
“Yes,” he says abruptly. “But I do not know them all.”
He points to a strip of light in the sky.
“Galaksya,” he says. “It contains more stars and planets than you can imagine.”
I look where he is pointing.
“How do you know any of this?” I ask.
“My father is as a star in heaven,” he answers absently.
His arm around my waist, he points out something else in the night sky. It is the closest star to our earth, he informs me.
The tent-dwellers are knowledgable about the stars. Did Semjaza grow up among them? The men from Enoch who study the stars often live for a time with the tent-dwellers, usually for the time it takes earth to go around our own star.
The matter of the ring in his pouch also occupies my mind.
And then a thought occurs to me. Semjaza is so knowledgable. Perhaps he can offer me some advice.
“May I impose upon you?” I ask. It is the way of indicating that I might be overstepping the boundaries of politeness. If the answer is, yes, I will be forgiven for any breach of propriety.
“Yes, my lady,” says Semjaza, taking both my hands in his and giving me his full attention.
I take a deep breath. I feel weak again and have to remind myself what it is that I was about to ask him.
“It is Qayin,” I manage to say.
“Ah, yes, Qayin,” says Semjaza, nodding. “He is your cousin.”
I cannot dishonour my family so I have to be cautious with my words.
“My sister, Naamah,” I say quickly. “Longs to have Qayin for her husband. The ring you carry, she believed to be his gift to her, along with a pledge of marriage.”
“She is heartbroken now,” says Semjaza, understanding.
“Yes,” I say. “But I fear her heart would break many times again if she were to be his wife.”
“It is the way of the sons and daughters of men,” he says. “It is the curse.”
I am stunned by the reply. Because I cannot argue its truth.
The manuscript in the trunk! How could I have forgotten! Hawwa ate the fruit that brought the knowledge of good and evil to all her children. But Yah was angry. He punished both our Father Adam and Hawwa. But who knows these things?
“What can I do for her?” I ask.
He is still holding my hands.
“There is nothing you can do for her,” he says. “But there need be no curse for you.”
“If I do not marry . . . ”
He shakes his head.
“You mistake my meaning. There are other ways.”
“Other ways?” I ask, bewildered.
“The sons of men bring sorrow to their sisters,” he says. “Why should you desire them?”
“Who is there, but the sons of men?” I say.
Semjaza is silent for a moment. There is only the light of the moon to see him by, his hair dark and wavy, his eyes the colour of burnished bronze.
“The sons of God.”
The way Semjaza says it, I begin to tremble.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“The sons of God,” he repeats. “And the daughters of men. No curse. No sorrow.”
I do not know what to say. Is it possible? A son of God? Our Father Adam was a son of God, made of dust. But now we are all children of Adam.
“Where do you come from, Semjaza?” I ask.
“I come from the stars,” he says simply.
And for the moment, I believe him.
Semjaza talks to Lamech, to arrange the marriage. I have never been close to my father and of course, my father is known to be a murderer. But Semjaza is clearly the stronger of the two. If he requests my father's permission, it is only a formality. Semjaza is more than confident enough to simply tell my father that he has chosen me.
In any case, Lamech announces both his permission and his blessing.
Naamah's envy is palatable. It seems particularly poignant now that the ring is on my finger.
Tubal-Cain is surprised and a little bit awed, I think, at the prospect of such a brother-in-law.
It fills me with a terrible fear. The fear comes from knowing that I am not good enough. Semjaza is far superior to any other man in Enoch, and yet, he chose me. How long will this fancy last, I wonder? It is true, I would always be the first wife, but it does not bring me comfort to think that he could very well decide to take others. It is approved only if a man can afford it, but a man who has moon rocks is sure to be able to afford it.
I leave it to my father to find out all the details about my future husband. Where is he from? Where will we live after we are married? There is no reason why I should not ask these questions myself. Tubal-Cain's wife is scornful of me for knowing nothing about Semjaza. She did not marry my brother without making sure she knew all she needed to about him. Tubal-Cain even had to agree that he would only take one wife.
Already, all of Enoch is talking about the upcoming marriage. My brother, Jubal, is planning the music. There will be an ensemble of flutes and harps and instruments unlike that of anything the city has ever seen. There is something about Semjaza that makes everyone think that he must be an important chief, wherever he comes from. They talk about how unworthy I am of this great honour, but it is with envy. The general assumption is that I will be the most honoured lady in some distant settlement. But Semjaza could be a wanderer, for all I know.
Tubal-Cain and I make a belated visit to our mother, Zillah. It is partly to discuss the upcoming marriage ceremony with her. As mother of the bride, she will have an honoured position in the day's festivities.
Tubal-Cain greets our mother solemnly, slightly abashed at how long it has been since his last visit. I have no such guilt and greet her with the usual kiss on both cheeks. We sit down in her small sitting room. The townhouse is mercifully quiet with Adah visiting Jabal and our father out doing his business.
“Our Havilah has made a fine match,” says Tubal-Cain.
Our mother, a slim dark-haired woman with fine features, dressed in a long blue house robe made of soft wool, nods.
“Your father has told me. He has said there is no man like Semjaza.”
“He tells me that you will be living in Enoch,” continues our mother. “And that his brothers will come and join him.”
His brothers! Tubal-Cain and I look at one another.
“That should liven things up for the ladies of Enoch,” says Tubal-Cain. “Does he have sisters too?”
It is a mischievous question, but our mother takes it seriously.
“No, only brothers.”
“And what does his father do?” Tubal-Cain asks. “I am guessing it may have something to do with gem stones or a mine.”
Our mother shakes her head.
“He says that his father is a leader and that his sons are his obedient servants.”
“Hmm,” says Tubal-Cain. It is cute to hear Tubal-Cain talk this way. It is a sound he used to make as a child when he was pondering something.
“After Havilah,” he says. “You will have the most honoured position at the feast.” At every wedding, the mother of the bride is treated with great reverence. She is a symbol of our mother, Hawwa, who as everyone knows, is the Mother of All Living.
Our mother nods, but she looks serious.
“What is it, Mother?” I ask.
She looks down at her hands.
“Is it Semjaza?” I lean forward, taking one of her hands. “Are you concerned? Do you think he is not a good man?”
She shakes her head.
“I have not met him. I have only seen him from a distance.”
“He is a good man,” my brother reassures her. Of course, he does not know if this is true, or not. But our mother is not behaving as if there is something to celebrate.
“Perhaps,” says our mother.
“Mother,” I say. “Do you think I should not marry? Do you think I should remain as I am . . . ?”
She shakes her head.
“It is your right to marry. It is your decision. But the place of honour is not mine.”
Tubal-Cain and I stare at her.
“Mother!” says Tubal-Cain. “What on this earth are you talking about?”
“The honour is not mine,” she repeats.
“Mother!” I say. This is about all I can manage. My mother seems to have lost her senses.
“I always knew this day would come,” she says, more to herself, than to us.
“Mother, if you mean that . . .”
Whatever it is I am going to say, she shakes her head.
“Lamech will never tell you. And if you had chosen to never marry, I would never have told you. But the marriage ceremony is the only ritual before Yah and I cannot lie to everyone.”
It is true. A marriage ceremony is a commemoration of the day Yah presented Hawwa to Adam.
“But what is there to lie about, Mother?” says Tubal-Cain, bewildered.
“About Havilah,” she says.
“What about Havilah?” he says.
“No.” She thinks again. “It is not about Havilah. It is about me.”
Tubal-Cain and I do not know what to say.
“It is about me,” she says again. “The place of honour is not mine.”
We wait and when she does not speak, Tubal-Cain asks, “Why Mother?”
“Because Havilah is not my daughter,” she says simply, her eyes on the wall.
My eyes are wide. Zillah is the only mother I know. How can she speak this way?
“Mother!” says Tubal-Cain, shocked.
“It is true.” She looks at him. “And you should know it. You were old enough to know it.”
I am sitting very still. Not my mother! But then, that means Naamah is not my sister and Tubal-Cain is not my brother!
Tubal-Cain is now sitting, also still and silent.
I turn to him, though I speak to my mother.
“What do you mean? Why should he know?”
“Because he was old enough,” she repeats. “He was already a fine craftsman when you became my daughter.”
“How did I become your daughter?”
“Your father was a stranger,” says Zillah.
“My father is not Lamech?”
Zillah shakes her head.
“No.” There is a long pause and then finally she says, “Lamech killed your father.”
This revelation is like a thunderbolt suddenly striking in the sitting room.
And still, Tubal-Cain is silent.
I have to sit for a minute before I can say anything. And when I speak, it is slowly.
“I am the daughter of the man who was killed by our father?”
I turn to Tubal-Cain.
He nods slightly.
“The man came to me. He wanted a trunk. He said he had some manuscripts that needed to be kept safe from the elements.”
The trunk in the storage room!
“I was young and my father was the one who told the customers how much they were to pay for my work. You see, I did not have the store then. I worked from here.”
“But . . .” I do not know what to ask.
“There was an agreed price,” continues Lamech. “It was the first trunk I made. It was beautiful. I did not care what the agreed price was. I simply wanted to make something that would last, something of beauty.”
I nod. The trunk in the second-floor storage room is both strong and a work of art.
“But when our father saw it, he said we would charge more for it.”
My eyes widen.
“But the stranger only had the amount of money that was agreed upon. My father said that I had put so many hours into the trunk that it would be an insult to accept the price agreed upon. My only part in it all was to make the trunk and all I knew was that the stranger never purchased it. My father gave me a robe and a manuscript to put in there and to be honest, I have not thought of it since. I think I might still have the trunk somewhere.”
Zillah looks at me. With great difficulty, she continues the story.
“The man had a small child with him. You.”
“We do not know why. There was no wife. It is possible she died bringing you into the world.”
I sit, stunned. The robe in the trunk belongs to my true father. The manuscript in the trunk is the story of my people. And the manuscript tells me that sorrow with childbirth was part of the curse.
“I do not know everything,” Zillah continues. “Only that Lamech stood firm and would not accept anything less than his price. I think he suggested that the man give you as part of the payment.”
My eyes widen at the horror.
“The man refused and said that where he came from, an agreement was a matter of honour. That is all I know. Lamech came home that day and boasted that he had killed a young man, a young man who had wounded him. Our Father Cain was avenged sevenfold and he seventy-fold.”
I feel a distress I have never known. An ache for someone I have never met. My dead father. Who probably wounded Lamech in an effort to keep me from becoming a slave.
“He brought you home that day,” says Zillah. “I had recently had Naamah so Lamech gave you to Adah. But Adah said she would not raise a stranger's whelp. I took you.” She leans forward to grasp my hand. “I loved you, Havilah. You must never doubt that. I loved my two little girls. Tubal-Cain was gone and I loved you both.”
Now the woman I thought had been my mother is weeping into her hands.
“But you must have known,” I say, turning to Tubal-Cain.
“I was not certain. I left this home the day my father killed that man. I started my own shop and handled my own business transactions.”
No wonder Tubal-Cain is so indifferent at times to the amount of money his craftsmanship generates. His first work led to a death . . . the death of my father.
“I never saw you until I came back to visit my mother's house,” Tubal-Cain continues. “Whatever doubts I had, I told myself that my mother had hidden her pregnancy well and that you were her true daughter.”
But this explains his kindness toward me. Tubal-Cain has been more of a father to me then Lamech. He always knew, no matter what he told himself.
“This does not need to change anything, Havilah,” says Tubal-Cain. We are back out in the dark street, having comforted our mother as best we could. She will always be my mother. I know no other. I told her this and she held me close before we left. The wedding was not discussed any further.
“It changes everything, brother,” I say, turning to him. “That trunk. I have seen it. I have looked through it. I must find out who the people were who recorded the history in that manuscript.”
“But Semjaza will still love you no matter who you are,” says Tubal-Cain.
I think about this as we walk and a disturbing thought occurs to me. My sister, Naamah, is far more beautiful than me. The family I grew up in is one of handsome men and lovely women. But Semjaza did not choose Naamah, he chose me. Perhaps he knew something not known by the rest of Enoch. Perhaps he knew who my real father was.
It is silly and I do not feel like sharing the idea with Tubal-Cain. He will dismiss it as a result of the shock of learning that I am not who I thought I was. But it is a thought I cannot make go away. And it means that before I marry, I must find out who I am.
The first thing I must do is talk to Semjaza.
The thought stops me. I actually stop walking. It is unexplainable. But I cannot discuss this with Semjaza. The place to begin is the trunk.
Tubal-Cain has continued walking and now turns to see me standing on the stone walk.
He steps back, takes my arm and wraps it around his.
“Come sister,” he says. “There is much to do.”
I understand his feelings. He wants me to marry and to marry well. Semjaza is taller and stronger than any man in Enoch. When I am his wife, I will be safe and protected and all will be equal for the injustice of losing a father.
But I will not take a husband until I know who that father was.
aamah does not know that I am not her true sister and I leave that for our mother to tell her. Tubal-Cain and I carry on as usual.
I beg Naamah for some time alone and assuming that I have wedding preparations, she graciously agrees to take the store for the entire afternoon.
But instead of going out, I go up to the second floor and to the trunk.
The manuscript, I have already memorized. But now I read it with new eyes. There is a brief genealogy. Previously, the names were strangers to me. But now I think these strangers may be my father and his father's fathers. It starts with Seth, the son Yah gave to Adam and Hawwa to replace Abel. Seth was one hundred and five when he fathered Enosh. Enosh was ninety years old when he fathered Cainan. Cainan was seventy years old when he fathered Mahalalel. Mahalalel was sixty-five years old when he fathered Jared. That is where it has stopped. There are references to other sons and daughters. The settlements of Seth would be well-populated.
I turn my attention to the tunic and the robe. Both are well-worn but were originally carefully-crafted to endure. Most people in Enoch are fastidious about their appearance, but this ensemble suggests either a life of hard work or a long journey or an indifference to outward appearance. Maybe all three.
If only there was a map, or some indicator of where my father came from. But at least it is possible that I may have the names of some of my fathers.
The contents of the trunk have given me a sense of direction, a sense of belonging to another community. This manuscript was entrusted to my father to preserve and I, his daughter, still have it. I must return it to the community that it originated from. Carefully, I pack everything back into the trunk and then ponder my next step.
A daring plan enters my mind.
I will make a journey to the Mother of all Living! Hawwa will know the names in this manuscript. And it is possible that the descendants of Seth continue to live in the presence of Yah! The thought is too wonderful for me to think of. Right now, I have to focus on the journey itself. Would Semjaza be willing to join me? If I tell him only that I must make a holy pilgrimage to Hawwa to ask her to bless me with fertility, he will not be able to refuse! Many women go to Awan, wife of Father Cain, before their wedding to ask her to bless them with many children, but surely, for someone as magnificent in stature as Semjaza, I should go to Hawwa herself to seek favour.
Semjaza is adamant.
I will not set out on any journey before our wedding day. He has come to Enoch, his brothers are to join us shortly and so in Enoch he will stay. And I will stay with him.
His tone is firm, though I think I may detect a hint of threat in it. But this is no surprise. I am pledged to him in marriage – the contract made between my father and my future husband. And thus, it is already as if I am his wife. The only delay is because a wedding must be arranged.
Except that Lamech is not my true father and therefore has no right to arrange a marriage on my behalf. Zillah has more scruples, refusing to have a place of honour at the wedding ceremony. But the fact that Lamech is not my true father gives me a sense of comfort. The contract is not binding should I choose to reveal that I know who I am. But for now, I will leave things as they are.
Lamech is planning the wedding. A social outcast for all these years, he is now the centre of attention. His daughter is marrying a man who all can see will be a prominent man in the city. The fact that his brothers are coming to join him does not diminish his importance. It only enhances it. All are eager to have a place at my wedding so as to ingratiate themselves with Semjaza. Anyone with daughters is hoping that there will be enough brothers to go around.
So Lamech is all consumed with planning the wedding of the century. Interestingly, he does not notice my mother's lack of involvement. It is Adah who is by his side, going from shop to shop to make special purchases. They invite me over one night to discuss the menu, to see if I have any opinions. I do not. But Tubal-Cain's wife, who insisted on coming along, does. Zillah and I smile sympathetically at one another while she and Adah have an in-depth discussion about the amount of figs we will need and whether it is too commonplace to include dark-leafed field greens in the salad.
Lamech is sure of one thing. There will be an abundance of wine. He has already commissioned a vineyard outside of the city to provide all we will need.
“It would help if we knew how many people we were going to have at the feast,” says Adah, slyly, looking at me. She is seeking information. She knows the whole city will be attending. What she wants to know is whether Semjaza's brothers will be attending. And how many brothers does he have? Then she will be the first one to be able to announce it to everyone when she does her tour of the market shops tomorrow.
I smile and am prevented from answering by Lamech.
“There will be enough for all,” he says.
The talk turns to the decorations and what flowers are in season.
I watch Lamech - the man who I thought was my father, who I now know murdered my true father. Hatred should consume me, but Tubal-Cain has made atonement and been as good a father to me as my own would have been. But it does not diminish my desire to find my true family.
From the way Adah and Tubal-Cain's wife talk, I am the most favoured woman in Enoch. Semjaza is the most desirable man and they clearly cannot understand why he chose me, of all people.
I wonder the same thing. And that is why I do not believe this wedding will happen. I am not enough for Semjaza, and I know it. There are many proud women in Enoch who would feel worthy of his attention. I do not. And I fear whatever pleasure I would have with Semjaza would be equalled in sorrow at some point in the future.
The desire that Adah and Tubal-Cain's wife think I should have toward Semjaza, I have instead to find my true family. But if the streets of Enoch are dangerous for a solitary woman, what about the lonely roads and fields of the Other People?
It is not a journey I want to take alone, but there is not a single person I can think of who will share it with me.
Qayin greets me with more enthusiasm than he has ever shown me up until now. I am in Tubal-Cain's shop today, but not as an employee. Semjaza will not permit me to work anymore. But Tubal-Cain has invited me to choose my wedding present and insists that I take whatever I want with no thought of cost.
“Hello cousin,” I say, greeting him with no enthusiasm. “My brother is in the courtyard.”
“It is not Tubal-Cain I came to see.”
This is different. I glance at Naamah who is behind the counter and listening to every word. I see hope on her face.
“I came to speak to you.”
I do not dare look at Naamah.
“I am honoured,” I say automatically. The words are hollow.
There is a silence that I do not bother to fill. Qayin is trying to put his words together.
“Your love,” he says awkwardly.
My eyebrows go up.
“Semjaza,” he explains.
“Oh,” I say.
“I am interested in what he does.”
I was staring at a display of bronze platters but now I move to the display case of knives. These are the knives that Semjaza looked at.
“I am not sure,” I say. “Lamech might.”
Both Qayin and Naamah look at me strangely. It is the first time I have called Lamech by his name, rather than referring to him as my father. I must be careful. I will not tell this story. It is the choice of my mother, Zillah, whether or not she wants Enoch to know.
“But surely he has plans,” Qayin continues.
“He must,” I agree. Absentmindedly, my eyes wander over the knives.
“And perhaps he would like someone to help him,” says Qayin. “Someone who knows the people of the city.”
“Perhaps,” I say. I have just had an idea.
“Then you would be willing for me to work with him?”
“I suppose,” I say, my eyes still on the knives. A knife! That is what I need!
Qayin is exuberant.
“I will tell him I have your blessing!” says Qayin. “Thank you, cousin! Thank you!”
I understand why he wanted to talk to me. If Qayin has my permission, he can approach Semjaza and say it is my desire that they be partners. It is the obligation of family. Well, I will leave that to Semjaza. For now, I must pick out the right knife.
It does not have to be ornamental, only something that I can handle. So it cannot be too heavy. It will be necessary if I have to travel alone. With it, I can defend myself.
Qayin is already gone. And I can barely look at Naamah, but I must. For the moment, I turn away from the display of knives.
“Dear sister,” I begin. But Naamah is in tears. Helpless to comfort her, I tell her to go lie down, that I will watch the shop.
When Tubal-Cain comes in from the courtyard and finds me behind the counter, he indignantly berates me. Semjaza will not be pleased if any of the citizens of Enoch inform that his soon-to-be wife was playing the common shopkeeper. But I explain to Tubal-Cain that our sister is in too much turmoil to be in the shop today.
He sighs and sits down on a newly-made ornate iron bench up against one wall.
“It is your wedding that inspires these thoughts in her,” he says.
I do not bother to enlighten him. Naamah has had her mind on Qayin long before Semjaza appeared in Enoch.
“You must do something, brother,” I say. “Speak to our father. Lamech should arrange a marriage for her. It is only right. She is older . . . ”
I stop. Naamah is not older than me. Zillah had only just given birth to Naamah when I came into the family. But that is known only to me and Tubal-Cain. To everyone else, Naamah was born first.
“It is time I made my daughters work in the shop. You must have your own families.”
“Perhaps our cousin Qayin would make a good husband . . . ”
The sound that comes out of Tubal-Cain reminds me of one of the few times we went to visit Jabal among his tents and livestock. One of his sheep was in labour. The peculiar exhalation the ewe made that day is much like the sound my brother now makes.
“I will think of a suitable husband,” says Tubal-Cain.
I sigh. This will not satisfy Naamah and will only make the longing worse.
“Qayin is family,” I say, trying again. “If Naamah finds him attractive, perhaps he would be a suitable husband.”
“There are many ways a man can be attractive,” says Tubal-Cain, standing up. “Our cousin is attractive in appearance.”
He exits out the back door to return to the courtyard. The implication is obvious. Qayin is only attractive in outward appearance. He will not be Naamah's husband.
The apartment I share with my sister is quiet when I return in the evening. She is still resting in her room. Why does she make herself suffer like this?
I could share a meal with Tubal-Cain and his family, but I am too nervous to eat. The knife is mine. I told Tubal-Cain as I was closing up the shop that I had selected my present and he absently wished me many blessings before hurrying upstairs to his wife and children. His wife has not been pleased with his long hours of work.
I go over to the glass that hangs on the wall and look at myself in the mirror. My hand runs over my smooth face. It is not unusual for young men to have smooth faces. It has crossed my mind that perhaps I should cut my hair and leave Enoch as a young man, wearing the tunic and robe of my father. I do not know what life is like beyond the city, only that life in the city is not always safe for women. Is it the same among the Other People?
But I hesitate to do it. My long golden brown hair is one of the few features admired by people, though Adah says I look like I sprinkle it with sawdust.
I sigh and decide to simply hide my hair under the robe. Perhaps my greatest concern should not be the Other People, but Semjaza, when it is discovered that I am gone.
I will not be able to carry the trunk with me, which is unfortunate. It is the reason my father came to Enoch and it has been the reason the manuscript is so well-preserved. The animal skins will have to do.
Tomorrow is market day and it is the best day for me to go. People will be milling in the gates and no one will notice one extra person leaving the city. The thought fills me with sick excitement. I am terrified to go, but now that I know the manuscript belonged to my father, I cannot stay. I cannot stay and wonder for hundreds of years who my father was. If I face the wrath of Semjaza for going on this journey, so be it. But I know one thing. It would be far harder to try to leave once I am the wife in his home.
For now, I must sleep.
t is hard to leave without saying goodbye to Naamah or Tubal-Cain or to Zillah, our mother.
But it would not be wise.
When I know that Naamah is in the shop, I carefully make my way down the stairs, past the door that leads to Tubal-Cain's apartment and out onto the street. The marketplace is filling up with sellers of produce. I hope that in the tunic and robe of my father, my hair pulled back and under my garments, that nobody will recognize me as the girl from the coppersmith's shop.
I carry two small sacks. One is for the manuscript. The other is for my supplies. I have a change of clothes, one that is more fitting for a lady. Also, some coins and other small metal items to trade along the way.
First I must buy some food.
I stop in front of a blanket that is piled with loaves of bread. Two are purchased and put in my sack. Then I stop for some dried beans and finally, some dried fruit.
Though most people are coming into the city, the streets are so crowded with traders and city people out to buy from them, that I am not noticed when I exit through the large iron gates. It is my moment of doubt. The iron gates where crafted by Tubal-Cain and his men in the courtyard. I remember when they made them. They worked on them for one whole moon cycle.
It is not too late for me to turn back. I have a handsome husband to marry. A beloved sister and brother.
There would be no repercussions if I returned to my apartment now. I could simply sit there until my wedding day and then live a life of comfort.
I take a deep breath.
I will keep going.
It is fallacious to think that I will have a life of comfort with Semjaza. And I will never be satisfied as long as I do not know who my father is.
The roads outside of the city are slightly quieter but I encounter so many travellers on the road that I do not have a sense of having left Enoch behind.
I am now passing the golden wheat fields. In the distance, I can see barley. The farmers stay close to the city and build their homes with a mud brick that is a rougher version of the bricks we use in Enoch. Close to the copper mines, are the furnaces for the bricks. I have visited neither, but Tubal-Cain makes an annual journey to the mines and tells us it is a different world. A far less refined world than the comforts of the city.
I have only ever gone as far as Jabal's tents and then I was always with Tubal-Cain or other people in our family. Jabal's tents are well out of sight of the city, but I do not plan to pass by them. It would be unlikely that I could pass by unrecognized.
So when I see the tents in the distance, I turn off in to the forest that lines one side of the road. The forest is dense. It is not easy to walk in it. And it is common knowledge that there are animals in the forest and some of them have even been known to lunge at a man. But I comfort myself by recalling that the manuscript told of a time when our Father Adam named all the animals and they lived in peace in the Garden. It would be a greater comfort to me to know that I am in the presence of Yah, who talked with our Father Adam in the garden. Our Father Cain went out from his presence and I wonder at what point I will return to it.
That thought becomes my hope as I push through the brush of the forest. Somewhere, there is Yah. I keep telling myself, whatever hardship I face will be worth returning to his presence.
And all the time, I am aware that my journey has slowed to a crawl and it increases the likelihood that Semjaza and perhaps even my family, will soon be on the road parallel to me, looking for me.
Jabal's tents are along a stream and I long to drink from it. But I would be seen. The women are out washing clothing and the green grass surrounding my half-brother's encampment is filled with playing children who know me as Aunt Havilah.
I can only hope that there are other tributaries of the Tigris up ahead.
The sun is high in the sky when I finally am able to return to the road. I do not even know where this road leads. The forest offered shade, but I am sure my hair must be full of twigs and other debris. I remove the robe now that the sun is full strength. My thirst has increased. There are no travellers on the road, but in some of the fields that have been cleared, I see other people who live as Jabal, with their tents and livestock.
My difficulty now, in addition to being thirsty, is that I have no idea where to go. Where do Hawwa and Father Adam live? I have no idea. But this is the only road to travel on. Which is not necessarily good for me if anyone is following me. My route will be obvious.
As the sun starts to move down, I am able to determine that I am walking west. I am encouraged by this. According to the manuscript, our Father Cain traveled east when he came to the Land of Wandering. But for how long did he walk?
Cain and his wife have the most beautiful apartment in Enoch, although it is their son, Enoch, who is the leading citizen. They are a legendary family, being the parents of all of us. Lamech is Cain's great-great-great grandson but I have never actually met the patriarch of our city. He sits in the gate with the other elders of the city and they talk. I do not know what they speak about, though surely he has told them about his trek to the Land of Wandering. I have met his wife, Awan, the eldest daughter of Father Adam and Hawwa, but she is quiet about her journey.
As dusk descends on the land, the encampments dwindle and I am left with only the stars. At least, I hope I am left alone with the stars. The thought of animals in the forest makes me nervous. Though small animals ran through our brother Jabal's tents, I was never one to make friends with them.
The stars fill the sky and the half-moon provides enough light for me to continue walking. I must continue walking until I come to some water. Mercifully, at last, I come upon a small stream. When I am refreshed, I can finally rest.
I must take to the forest though. If anyone is following me, they will easily find me on the road. It would be near impossible for anyone to search through all the woods.
I do not venture too far in and choose a small patch. The temperature is slightly cooler now, so I wrap the robe around me and try to get comfortable. It is certainly not my bed back in the apartment, but then, I have never been this weary. Before I have time to wonder what Naamah and Tubal-Cain are doing right now, I am asleep.
Rustling in the leaves wakes me up.
I clutch the robe around me tighter and wish that I had someone with me. Anyone. The bush is definitely moving. The only merciful factor is that the bush is small so whatever is in there must also be small. But Jabal once told us that some of the most vicious animals he encountered were small.
I do not even have time to find a stick before the creature pushes its head out of the leaves.
It is a tiny behemoth.
I have never seen such a thing. By it's very name, a behemoth is a large creature, a giant lizard. Sometimes they are called dragons. I would never want to meet such a creature. Some of them are as tall as a three-story townhouse. Whenever one comes to threaten Enoch, all the young men must go out with Tubal-Cain's knives and arrows and kill it, lest it ravage the town. Around the campfire, Jabal tells us frightening stories of when he and his men have to go out with their sharpened spears and confront one of these beasts.
But this one is a baby.
Nervously, I look around. Where is his mother?
The creature seems friendly enough. He cautiously moves into the clearing. I think he might be hungry. Hastily, I pull one of the loaves of bread from my sack and break off a piece. I toss it over to the creature. He takes a few steps forward, sniffs it and then gobbles it down. I laugh. He is a cute little guy. Hopefully he is a plant-eater and not a meat-eater.
We share the loaf of bread, though he is not impressed with the dried beans. Then we both venture out of the forest for a drink at the stream.
I do not know where our friendship will go from here, but the little guy trots along beside me as I continue down the road.
“I guess I had better call you Behemoth,” I say. “If Father Adam thought that was a good name for you, then I do too.”
His reply is to bark. It's squeaky and sounds as though he is agreeing with me. As we walk along, I decide I like having the company. But then he starts barking, a more serious yap. I remember one of Jabal's wolves growling when we approached his encampment. Which can only mean one thing. Someone is either behind us or ahead of us.
But there is no one behind us. Which can only mean someone is approaching us. There is a bend in the road and so I cannot see anyone yet. I do not want to meet anyone who might pass it along that they encountered a lone woman on the only road that leads out of Enoch. Quickly, I duck into the forest. Behemoth does not know what to do for the moment. He bounces along between the road and the forest. I decide that this does not matter so long as I can conceal myself. I have barely hidden behind a dense bush when I hear voices.
All male voices. I am glad I am unseen as they approach. They are talking and they sound high-spirited. Cautiously, I peek through the leaves.
Behemoth is still hovering around the edges of the forest. But this tribe of men barely give him a glance. I can see why. They are not the type to be intimidated by a Behemoth of any size.
They are all a head taller than any man I have ever met, except for Semjaza. Semjaza's brothers! I realize this as they pass by. But there are so many! How could one woman be mother of them all! Even Hawwa did not bear this many sons.
Edgy, I wait until they all pass. My estimation is that there must be two hundred of them. Is Enoch prepared for this onslaught? Certainly, no ordinary son of Cain will be able to oppose them. I hope, for the sake of my brother and sister that the brothers of Semjaza come in peace.
When they have all passed, I wait a bit longer to make sure they will be out of sight when I return to the road. Behemoth has loyally waited for me and we resume our walking.
What land lies beyond the Land of Wandering? Will all the men be like Semjaza's brothers? Why have I never taken the time to talk to the people who have gone beyond the city of Cain? This journey would be less fearful if I had taken the opportunity to talk to a trader when he came into the shop.
The road ahead is not lined with forest, but has hills on either side. It would be a lot harder to have to hide behind a hill. I would certainly be seen in the distance running up it. There are sheep which suggests that people live somewhere among these hills. This road would not be here if there were not some settlements along it.
Behemoth takes an interest in the sheep, but not in a carnivorous kind of way. He barks and even dashes in circles around one of them. We pass through the valley leaving behind some disconcerted sheep.
Behemoth turns out to be an excellent scout. When there is no river, he finds ponds for us to drink from. When my food runs out, he rustles around in the forest and finds some berries for us. But I am still concerned.
The hills are past. The road has trickled into nothing more than a path in the woods, and at times, I even wonder if the path is only in my imagination. We have left behind the sons of Cain. Now we are on the only path between the Land of Wandering and the rest of the earth.
The trees almost obscure my view of the sun, but I think we are still traveling west. It is important that I keep moving. I have seen no people, but there have definitely been animal noises in the forest. Behemoth sends them running with a sharp bark. I wonder what happened to his mother? I imagine Jabal would have a story to tell. Behemoth's mother probably disturbed his encampment.
I have almost lost track of time and have to think carefully. Have I spent three or four nights in the forest? Behemoth finds some mushrooms for us on what I think is Day Four. But I feel weary from continually moving without enough nourishment.
I long for the juices Tubal-Cain's wife prepared back in Enoch, though at the time I scorned them as drinks made for children. I wish that I had brought more dried fruit. And I wonder what will happen to all the food that was purchased for my wedding.
Day Five brings me and Behemoth out of the forest to a land of spacious fields. I stumble out of the trees and into the light of the sun, my eyes almost stinging from the sudden shift from dim to bright. Behemoth gallops ahead of me, to stretch his legs and bark with delight. Then he runs around in circles and dashes back to me. The little fellow is loyal. I pat his head. He has become my best friend, curling up beside me at night and trotting along beside me on the narrow path by day.
To my amazement, I see a settlement in the near distance. Golden brown homes with smoke rising from fires in the front for baking. These are Other People!
What will they think of me?
I try to run fingers through my hair, to pull out twigs and whatever else may have ended up in it. I must look like a lost sheep.
But there are still the fields to cross.
The fields must have once been forest because the houses are all made of wood. Some of the houses of Enoch are made with timber, stone and plaster.
The path ends here, suggesting that the traders have more options once they reach this point. I look to the left and there is another forest, to the right where there are some hills in the distance. But the settlement is west, so that is where I head.
My first encounter with a person is a young man watching some sheep. He glances at me with curiosity and his eyes go down to Behemoth. I pat Behemoth's head to indicate he is perfectly harmless.
“Good day,” I call out.
“And God's blessing to you too,” he calls back, nodding. Behemoth gallops off to run circles around the sheep. The shepherd keeps a watchful eye on him until Behemoth proves himself not interested in devouring sheep, only in visiting with them. No doubt the shepherd is used to other animals and is quick to discern what is a threat and what is not.
He turns back to look at me. I imagine I must appear as the weary traveller.
“I am a stranger in your land,” I call out, moving closer.
He nods. It is self-evident.
“If it is refreshment you need,” he says. “Stop at the third house you come to and tell my mother that Roeh sent you.”
“God's blessing on you, Roeh,” I say.
“And upon you, sister,” he says.
The word sister stirs me. I have only known the word spoken to me by the children of Cain. But, of course, we are all brothers and sisters in our Father Adam.
Once I reach the settlement, there is a wooden walkway and I walk past the first two houses until I come to the third one. Hesitantly, I knock at the door.
A woman not unlike my own answers the door. She has Zillah's high bone features and long dark hair, as well as her natural slimness. But this woman has spent more time outdoors than my mother. It has been a life of hard work. She looks strong and unintimidated.
“Good day, daughter,” she says.
“And God's blessing to you too,” I reply. “Roeh sent me . . . ”
“Roeh's heart is for the stranger. Come in.” She steps aside to let me enter.
The interior of the house is full of light. It does not have the luxury of Enoch, but the furniture is made of a solid wood. A wonderful aroma is coming from somewhere. The lady glances down at Behemoth who also wants in.
“Not you!” she says, laughing. “But if you are good, your mistress will bring some fruit out for you!”
Behemoth takes this well and as the door closes, I see him curl up in front of the door.
I am led to a couch lined with cushions and invited to recline.
“It is not often that a single woman comes to my door,” she says. “In fact, I do not think I have ever entertained anyone except the traders that pass our way.”
The mother of Roeh goes through a doorway and reappears minutes later with a tray. She puts it down on a table and hands me a clay cup. I sip it cautiously. It is hot, but sweet and delicious.
“This is wonderful,” I say.
“That is the advantage of having a son who has a heart for strangers. They bring wonderful things. This is cocoa. It is grown by the sons of Seth.”
My eyes widen.
“I mix it with the sugar cane that also comes from the traders. I believe it grows on the banks of the Gihon.”
“Where am I exactly?” I ask.
“Among the settlements of Dalath,” she replies. “We are the children of the fourth son of Adam. And what brings you to us, daughter?”
“I am from Enoch,” I say.
She looks at me carefully.
“You do not look like a child of Cain,” she says.
I do not think I should tell her too much. If traders pass through here she might tell them about me and they might return to Enoch with stories about me. Then Semjaza would be able to follow my route.
“Enoch is all I know,” I answer, truthfully.
“And why do you leave all that you know?” she asks.
I do not want to tell her that my objective is to visit Hawwa, just in case Semjaza makes it this far and is determined to follow me right to the water's edge.
But my silence is an answer for her.
“The sons of men are not always kind to their daughters. Are you married?”
I shake my head, confirming her belief that I have run from a cruel father.
“Well, my daughter. Go in peace and go with Yah's blessing. But I would advise you to find a settlement rather than wander the forests and fields.” It is not a dismissal because she then offers me a platter of fruit and vegetable wedges and while we eat she tells me about her children. Roeh is her youngest, the only one who is not married yet. Two still live in this settlement but one daughter has married into the clan of Zayin, seventh son of Adam.
I comment on the loom in this spacious room. She says that Roeh's sheep provide the wool for her to make cloth. The other types of cloth available to the community are cotton, which is grown from a plant. I tell her that we have that material in Enoch but I have never actually seen the plant. The mother of Roeh assures me that if we have cotton in Enoch it probably came from Dalath and shows me a beautiful white shirt made of the material. The community benefits from the traders, but it is entirely self-sufficient.
After we eat, she ushers me into a private room and brings me a basin of water to clean myself. When that is done, she tells me that it is only a half-day walk to the settlement of Zayin and that when I get there, I should ask for her daughter, Yafeh, who will give me a place to sleep for the night.
“She is the most beautiful woman in the town,” says her mother. “Her husband is smitten.”
I do not know whether this is to reassure me that if Yafeh says I will stay, then I will stay. Or maybe it is just that Yafeh will not be threatened by a bedraggled lamb like me and will surely allow me to stay in her home. Either way, I am grateful for the referral.
As promised, the mother of Roeh gives me a generous sackful of fruit, both for me and Behemoth. Behemoth runs circles around me in his delight to have me back and barks with pleasure when I put an apple on the ground for him.
With a laugh and a wave, the mother of Roeh sends us along on our way.
The settlement of Zayin is also west. Perhaps as I move further away from the city of Enoch, I will be able to inquire more about the children of Adam and where they all live in relation to the Garden that lies alongside the waters.
The wooden walkways of Dalath are quiet but when I get past the houses, the fields are busy. They too have wheat and barley, as well as orchards of fruit trees. But I do not see any tent-dwellers, or for that matter, any livestock. Roeh must have been the only person to decide to herd sheep. The abundance of forest suggests that anyone who needs animal skins for leather must simply go hunting.
Behemoth and I must skirt the irrigation ditches which run between some of the fields.
The mother of Roeh has instructed me to cross the fields and then follow the river. With excitement, I realize, this must be one of the main rivers mentioned in the manuscript. When I come to its shore, I am awed by its magnificence. Wide and flowing, one could not wade through it as one could the streams I have encountered so far. Perhaps this is the mighty Tigris.
Behemoth trots along its shore, barking and excited at something new. He pauses, looking as if he wants to lower his head for a drink, but is hesitant about its flow.
“Go on!” I say, laughing. “Be brave!”
He takes my advice and quickly ducks his head down for a drink, but brings it up quickly when his whole face is covered. I pause on the bank and dip my hand in for a drink too. With a river like this, no one would ever know thirst.
The river is a draw for many more settlements.
I do not know whether these are still the children of Dalath. The houses near the river are made out of the reeds that abundantly grow on its banks. There are boats too, something I have only heard of but never seen. The boats are made of reeds and animal skins, which suggests that these communities have hunters.
These settlements are more active than the one lived in by Roeh and his mother.
The traders use the river and I quickly distinguish their boats from those of the villagers. The traders have long enclosed wooden boats. These boats are manoeuvred with oars. As we continue to walk by the river, I observe that many settlements have small docks for the boats to tie up at, so that the people can all come down to the riverbank and do some bartering. We see it happening at one town, though Behemoth and I stay clear of the crowds and the boat. I do not want a trader who might recognize me to report my whereabouts to anyone in Enoch. I wonder if any of my brother's metal work makes it to these towns.
Finally, as the sun is going down on the horizon, I come to Zayin. Some men are repairing their boats and kindly tell me that Yafeh and her husband live in the village, in the largest house. There is some laughing and joking about how Yafeh must have the best and her husband is continually working to see that it is so.
I have to ask for directions again, because, even in the village itself it is hard to determine which house is the largest. Unlike Enoch, none of them are more than one storey. But everyone knows Yafeh and soon Behemoth and I are knocking at her door.
A small, bright-eyed boy answers. There is noise and laughter from within the house. The boy considers his duty done and hurries off to rejoin his brothers and sisters. Yafeh appears from an archway leading into one of the rooms. I recognize her. She has all of the features of her mother, but she is more filled out. It must be all the children. The result is that she has surpassed her mother in beauty, seeming to have a life that allows her both leisure and activity.
“Good evening, stranger,” she says, wiping her hands on an apron. I am afraid I have arrived while she is in the middle of preparing the evening meal.
“God's blessing on you as well, this evening,” I reply. “I have come from your mother's home and she suggested I stop here.”
Yafeh looks me over and welcomes me in. Even Behemoth is allowed to trot along beside me. While Behemoth is very quickly captured by a band of children who take him further into the house, Yafeh lets me join her in a small courtyard where there is a cooking fire.
Soon I am cutting up vegetables for a large pot of soup.
Yafeh asks me about her mother and Roeh and says that she and the children must borrow a cart and go visit them sometime.
“Roeh will not leave his sheep to come here,” she explains.
Unlike her mother, she shows no interest in where I am from or where I am going. She is content to have an extra hand in the kitchen. When her husband comes in from outside with a basket full of sandy spinach, she tells him to clean it himself, she and her guest will be drinking beer in the sitting room.
Her husband is a large, good-natured man. He warns me about drinking too much of his wife's beer.
“She sweetens it with honey,” he says, “but it is poison to a man to drink too much.”
That is just nonsense, Yafeh tells me when we're sitting down with a mug each of the beverage. “It is merely a barley drink that warms the stomach.”
The children are romping on the floor with Behemoth. I count at least five. I comment on the blessing of children, hoping to steer the conversation to Hawwa, Mother of All Living. She nods, absently. Evidently, this blessing comes easily to her.
“Your mother says that Zayin is the seventh son of Adam,” I say, trying again.
“Yes,” she says. “My husband is a direct descendant of our Father Zayin.”
“Does Zayin still live among you?” I ask.
“Oh yes,” she says.
And that is it for conversation. Beer is a relaxing drink and we sit and enjoy the children's play until it is time to eat. Yafeh's husband has cooked the spinach wrapped in bread dough and backed in the ashes of the fire. Along with the soup, it is a simple but satisfying meal.
Then there is the chaos of putting the children to bed. I have the option of sleeping in the courtyard or joining the girls in their room. I take the courtyard. Behemoth and I are used to sleeping outdoors.
In the morning, the same barley that Yafeh uses to make her drink is now served in bread form. There is fruit to go along with it. Yafeh's husband gets a sackful of food and a kiss before departing to his boat and a day of harvesting reeds.
I cannot outstay my welcome. But I need a sense of direction. I know with certainty that only Hawwa can help me. Only she will know all the names in the manuscript. A mother knows her children. Cousins can forget about cousins, but a mother remembers.
I do not know where Hawwa lives, but going by the manuscript, my family might be found somewhere among the sons of Seth.
“I seek the settlement of Seth,” I say to Yafeh. She has kindly provided me with a sack of food and refuses any of the coins I carry. We are talking at her doorway now. Behemoth is running circles around the children while they try to hug him goodbye.
She looks thoughtful.
“Settlements,” she corrects me. “I have not seen them, but some of the traders have. They have various places where they have settled.”
“Why is that?” I ask. She seems knowledgable.
“I think it is because they call on the name of Yah,” she says.
My heart jumps.
“They build strange stone buildings to him, the traders say. Tetrahedra, they call them. Three-dimensional triangles. I do not know why they build them. I do not care. It is my husband who talks to them.” Yafeh shrugs and grabs the shirt of one of her boys just before he is about to try to climb on Behemoth and ride him like a pony. I am not sure whether it is for his safety or for Behemoth's.
“Just follow the river,” she says, absently, picking up one of her girls and brushing the dust off her tunic.
“Blessings to you, mistress,” I say.
“Blessings to you, stranger,” she replies before returning to her home, a trail of children following behind her.
Perhaps it is the traders I should talk to. But as Behemoth and I continue along the river, we do not encounter any by the shore, even in the towns, although one of their boats drifts by. If they follow the current of the river, they only need to steer. It is when they go upriver that they need the oars. That would explain the muscles on many of them.
The settlements by the river vary in that some communities are using the water to irrigate their fields, while others seem content to live off vegetables grown along the riverbank. With one of the coins, I purchase some slices of watermelon, as well as some barley bread.
It is not until evening that the landscape changes.
As the sun goes down, I find myself in a strange new world. The river veers north, perhaps to join up with the other three great ones. But ahead of me is a vast plain. And covering that plain are exactly what Yafeh said, three-dimensional triangles. Even in the dim light, I can see that they are solidly built of stone.
But most mysterious is that there is no one in sight. This is not a settlement, though it is obviously crafted by human hands. I do not know where to turn. Follow the river? Or head across the plain among the tetrahedra?
Behemoth makes the decision for me. He gallops across the plain and circles a tetrahedron. It is a wide run for him and takes him awhile to make a full circuit. By the time I have reached him, he is tired of the game and wants to rest. We have our dinner of bread leaning against the stone structure.
The plain is not empty of life. There are deer and foxes and other creatures moving among the structures. Some giant lizards even pass by, but they respectfully stay clear of Behemoth. They are different types, with crested heads and an ability to stand upright. But they only pause on this plain. There are no trees to feed on here. The plain has been cleared. So the only animals who come are the ones who want a drink by the river or a sheltered place to sleep by the stones.
Although the light of day is almost gone now, I can still see that the stones that built these structures are enormous. They are taller than Semjaza and twenty men could sit on them if they wanted to. If these are not homes, what purpose do they serve? Yafeh says they were built by men who call on the name of Yah.
Exhausted by the day's travels, Behemoth and I are asleep right after our meal. It is the sun rising in the east that awakens us. The light means a new examination of our surroundings.
There are hundreds of these stone structures scattered around this plain. Some are colossal while some are more modest.
But it all does not help me know what direction I should go. Where is the settlement of the people who created this landscape?
Again, Behemoth makes the decision for us. He is thirsty and gallops back across the plain to the river. I will follow the river. Any settlement would probably be built along, or near, the river. So we start heading north, along the bank, only to discover that the river turns west again once it is in the forest.
And now there are signs of life.
A hunter almost shoots an arrow at us and calls out an apology when he sees that we are human, not deer.
I accept the apology and raise my voice to carry among the trees.
“God's blessing to you. Am I among the children of Seth?”
“God's blessing to you too,” the young man replies. “Yes. Which settlement do you seek?”
For the moment, I do not know how to answer. Then the genealogy comes back to me. Seth had a son Enosh and Enosh had Cainan and Cainan had Mahalalel. Perhaps the sons of Seth have settled according to their fathers. Enosh will be oldest settlement.”
“I seek Enosh,” I call back.
“Much further,” he says. “The children of Mahalalel are just up the river. Refresh yourself among our people before you continue your travels.”
Then he is gone, among the trees.
I can hardly believe that I have located one of the names in the manuscript!
When I come out of the forest to a clearing, I see there are women getting water at the river. They are startled by Behemoth but quickly realize he is small and harmless. One young woman in particular takes a liking to him and crouches down to pat him on the head.
When she straightens up, she introduces herself as Chayah. Like me, her hair is lighter, the first person I have seen on this journey with this feature. I introduce myself as Havilah and she seems to recognize my name.
“You have come far then,” she says.
“I have come far,” I agree. I do not tell her that it is not Havilah that I came from, but perhaps Havilah that I am going to.
Chayah invites me to stop by their home for a drink and a talk and graciously adds that I am welcome in their house for as long as I like. I accept the invitation for a visit.
She is carrying two buckets of water as we walk back to her home. I offer to take one but she refuses.
Chayah and I go into a spacious wooden home and Behemoth is put in a courtyard to keep him from the forest where he may be accidentally shot with an arrow. Chayah leads me back into a room and offers me a sweet drink made of honey and the juice from the berries of the forest. She joins me once she has returned the jug to a shelf.
Chayah lives with her parents while her other brothers and sisters have their own homes.
It is a young settlement, she tells me. Their father, Mahalalel, is the patriarch, but they stay in close contact with the other settlements of Seth.
“Did your family build the stone structures on the plain?” I ask as Chayah and I sip our delicious drink.
“It is the obligation of the sons of Seth,” she says.
“How long did it take?” I ask, curious.
“We start a new settlement and then we help one another build our star maps,” explains Chayah. “It will be the responsibility of my brother Jared to do the same, once he has taken a wife.”
“He is your brother?”
“My oldest brother.”
“I saw a man in the forest,” I say. “He told me to stop here.”
“That was Kenaz,” she says. “He is the second-oldest.”
“The stone structures are maps of the stars?” I say.
“We all have different portions of the sky. It is our plan to one day map the whole sky here on earth.”
I ponder this ambitious plan and before I can ask any more questions, Chayah's mother has returned from the forest where she was picking mushrooms.
She takes an interest in my travels and she and Chayah are the first people that I partly confide in. I tell them that I am on a journey to meet our Mother Hawwa. I grew up without a true father or mother and would like to speak to her in the hope that she will recognize my family among all her children.
“She will know,” says Chaya's mother, nodding. “She knows all her children.”
“Does she ever come here?”
“Oh yes,” says Chaya's mother. “Not often, but she comes. She travels the rivers at certain times of the year. Father Adam does not join her. He has his work. But all are welcome to visit him. Often, the sons of Seth travel together to meet with him and discuss Yah.”
Chayah's father, Mahalalel, joins us. He welcomes me, a traveler, and says that if I will be a daughter to him, he will be a father to me. It is a blessing as well as a covenant and something I rarely heard in Enoch. Though, in all fairness, Lamech never treated me as anything less than a daughter.
I am inspired to ask him if he knows of anyone who wrote down the genealogies of the sons of Seth. But despite that his name is included in the manuscript, he says that he does not know of anyone.
There is something warm and accepting about this family, something that brings me a comfort I have never known. Chayah treats me as a sister and very soon, her mother is treating me as a daughter. Before I realize it, Behemoth and I have spent a whole day with them, preparing a mushroom stew, getting more water from the river, taking Behemoth for a walk in the forest once Kenaz has returned with a deer and assured us he is done for the day.
I am invited to stay the night and I accept. The home of Chayah and her parents once must have held many children but now only houses these three. So I have my own room. I wash up and remind myself that I am on a journey and that I cannot stay here.
But my heart tells me I have found a home with these people.
enaz is commissioned to escort me along the river to the next settlement, the one of their father's father, Cainan. Another name in the manuscript!
I apologize for taking him a day's journey away from his home, but he is good-natured.
“There are bears in the forest near my grandfather's star map,” he says. “I would be happy to present my children with a bearskin for them to play on.”
Bears in the forest make me grateful that he has been given the job to safely escort me. Along the way we talk.
He is married with three children so far and he is not even a hundred. But his older brother, Jared, is still single. We pass by a clearing and he points out a wooden structure. It is Jared's home.
“Rough, of course,” says Kenaz. “A woman will improve it. But the main thing is, there is a huge clearing on the other side to make his star map. When he marries, we will all come to help him erect his pyramids. A portion of the sky was assigned to him the last time we gathered together with Father Adam.”
“Is it Father Adam's wish that the sky be mapped?” I ask.
He laughs and shakes his head.
“No. Our Father Enosh desired it. He is my great-grandfather. He taught us to call on the name of Yah.”
“Why does Father Adam not make star maps?” I ask.
“Father Adam says he has talked to Yah in person and does not need to recreate the heavens to have him near.”
It is an exciting thought. Am I finally coming into the land that is in the presence of Yah? “Does Yah move among you?” I am almost scared to ask, but I must know.
“No,” says Kenaz. “At least, not for some time. Even Father Adam admits that Yah is distant now, though my wife tells me that Hawwa says she sometimes gets a glimpse of him when she is out in the fields. Out of the corner of her eye.”
This is both encouraging and disappointing.
Father Cain left the presence of God. Maybe there is no return.
The conversation turns to Kenaz's brother, Jared. Jared is too shy with women, I am told. He will be two hundred before he has a son.
Cautiously, I ask if there was ever a man among the sons of Seth who lost his wife and was left with a child to raise. Kenaz says if there was, he has not heard of it.
I ask about the animals in the forest.
Kenaz glances down at Behemoth and says there are a lot more like him where Father Adam lives.
“Father Adam is the only one who is not afraid of them,” he says.
“They remember him from the Garden,” I say.
Kenaz looks surprised.
“You know of the Garden?”
“Not everyone does,” says Kenaz. But he is not the type of man to pry. He has the hunter's way about him, not the curiosity of the trader.
The Garden must have been forgotten by some of the children of Adam, the story not handed down from father to child anymore. And perhaps Hawwa does not feel it necessary to refresh their memories when she travels to visit with her children. I never would have known about the Garden if it were not for manuscript. Father Cain and Mother Awan, to the best of my knowledge, never spoke of it and I might have been the only one in Enoch who knew the real reason why they came to the Land of Wandering.
Kenaz amuses me with stories of Father Adam's animals. He is the only man Kenaz knows who has a lion for a pet. His name is Ariel.
Kenaz shakes his head.
“Even the small cats in the forest have claws and can be vicious. None of us like to get too close to Ariel when we visit with our Father Adam.”
The only animal Father Adam cannot stand is the snake. Kenaz does not elaborate, but he does not have to.
The sun is low when we see the settlement of Cainan. But before we head for the town, Kenaz takes me on a detour to see the star map.
Again, it is in a plain that has been cleared of all trees. The trees were used to build the homes and I can see from afar that many of them are two-storeys high.
The star map is breathtaking. It is even larger than Mahalalel's. Kenaz walks us through it, naming the constellations as we move among the five or six or seven-storey pyramids.
“Yah has named all the stars,” he says. “But we must be content only to name what we can see.”
“Are there stars we cannot see?” I ask, surprised. Our sky is scattered with so many stars I cannot imagine anything more.”
“Beyond the ones we see, yes,” says Kenaz, now leading us back toward the settlement. “Our Father Adam walked with Yah in the Garden and learnt much.”
“Much that has been forgotten,” I say.
“Alas, yes,” says Kenaz, nodding. “We call on Yah now. To remember.”
The children of Cainan welcome Kenaz and are quick to inquire about the health of their brother, Mahalalel, and his children. We are ushered into the largest house to stay the night with Cainan and his wife, Mualaleth.
I would like to talk with them about the names in the manuscript, but their oldest daughter quickly starts putting out a spread of food. She and her husband live here. Her husband is also a brother of Kenaz, so they have much to discuss while we eat fruit and bread with a delicious bean dip.
The talk goes late into the night. Behemoth is allowed to sleep in the courtyard while I get my own room. I hear the sounds of children but no one disturbs me. When I finally wake up and go down the stairs, I am told by the daughter of Cainan that Kenaz has already left for home.
She is friendly, but busy. I offer to help but she shoos me away. I am given a breakfast of dates and figs and some more bread, along with a glass of grape juice. There must be a vineyard nearby. I go out into the courtyard to find that Behemoth has received an equally satisfying breakfast.
Then it is time for me and him to set out again.
I pass Cainan working in a garden abundant with vegetables.
“What is your destination, daughter?” he asks me, pausing and leaning on a wooden fork.
I hesitate, but decide to answer honestly.
“It is my desire to meet Hawwa, Mother of All Living,” I say.
“A worthwhile ambition,” says Cainan, nodding.
“I would ask you to advise me, father,” I say. “I have journeyed westward. Should I continue in this direction?”
“Follow the Tigris, daughter. When it diverges, go west and follow the Pishon.”
The Pishon! That is the river that skirts the whole land of Havilah!
Then he tells me to hold out my sack. I obey and he fills it with freshly picked vegetables.
I thank him and he tells me to consider his home my home.
After years on my feet in the store, you would think that this walk would be easy, but I am using muscles that are new to me. Today though, I feel stronger as I set out. There is an ache in my calves, but it is not painful, only a reminder that I have come far and still have far to go.
When Behemoth and I encounter another star map, we know we are still among the settlements of Seth. This one is built on both sides of the river and the Tigris itself seems to be part of the map. The magnitude of this map is awe-inspiring. Both banks each contain more pyramids than the previous ones combined. But I am curious about the river itself. What does it represent? My answer comes when I have already passed the map. An alarming noise comes from the direction I am heading, a trumpeting, and in my panic, I shoot up a tree. I did not know I was capable of such a feat.
The animals are grey, with white tusks and large flapping ears. They are all heading to the river. Behemoth, at the bottom of the tree, is in no danger and watches them with curiosity. When the creatures are done, they return to the forest and I am left to carefully make my way back to ground level. But I happen to glance back, in the direction of the star map.
It is the Galaksya! The Tigris is the portion of the night sky that contains the strip of light that Semjaza said was due to its density of stars.
Safely back on the ground, Behemoth and I carry on. The settlement that made the star map must be further back from the river because it is not until late afternoon that we encounter people. It is a trader's boat. They are taking a break from rowing upstream and are in a rowdy mood. The way they eye me up and down makes me grateful that I have Behemoth. He growls in their direction and though they call out some comments that I do not care to remember, they do not leave the shore. Had they approached me, the knife in my sack would have come out.
It is not until the sun is going down that we encounter another settlement.
It is barely a settlement, just a few homes scattered in a circle. But their presence is explained by the fields surrounding them. (It also explains the traders down the river.) In the fields is nicotiana. I have seen it only occasionally in Enoch. The physicians use it to dull the pain if a person injures himself. Once a copper worker in Tubal-Cain's courtyard was taking it after he cut his arm by accident. Except that he wanted to continue to take it once he had recovered. Tubal-Cain said it was an addiction that some of the farmers had outside the city. Those who grew it sold it among their families, though they were really supposed to be providing it for the physicians.
My intention is to keep going. Behemoth and I have slept outdoors before. Except that a woman about my age comes out of one of the houses and hurries down to the river to get a last bucket of water for the day.
She is startled to see me and Behemoth.
“Pardon me, sister,” I say. “We are simply passing.”
Her eyes widen. I guess this is unusual.
“But, no,” she says when she has recovered. “Please stay with me and my great-great-grandfather.”
“That is very kind of you,” I say. “But I do not want to intrude upon your privacy.”
I suspect these people are outcasts, perhaps children of Seth who have strayed from the precepts of their community.
But I am wrong. The woman presses me to stay and I agree. Behemoth is welcome into the home and I see very quickly why. They allow their animals to be indoors. There is a small wolf in their sitting room, tamed but incited by the presence of Behemoth. He and Behemoth growl and circle one another, but in the end, the wolf decides he is not threatened and returns to his rug.
An elderly man enters the room and though surprised to have a guest, quickly makes me feel welcome and inquires about my journey.
I tell him I have been traveling among the sons of Seth, intending to go as far as Father Adam and Hawwa, Mother of All Living.
“We are all their children,” he says. We are sitting on solid wood furniture, well-crafted, while the woman, who has introduced herself to me as Baat, is preparing us an evening drink in another room.
“Are you a son of Seth?” I ask.
“No,” he says, leaning back. “But I find this is the best place to be. I am a son of Hey.”
I recognize the name. The fifth son of Adam.
I want to ask him more but cannot risk being impolite. But he wants to talk and tells me that he has been growing his nicotiana almost since the beginning of time. His crop is purchased both by traders and sons of Seth. The sons of Seth use it for medicine. The traders, he is not so sure. He suspects they often use it even when there is no pain to abate. All the other homes in this tiny settlement are for his sons and their sons.
Baat comes into the room with a wooden tray. She has prepared a drink unlike any I have every had. It is brown and strong and although it is bitter, it lifts the spirits. Her great-great-grandfather says it comes from a bean that they also grow in one of their fields. They roast the bean and then grind it into powder to pour boiling water over it. They do not think the traders would desire it, but their family enjoys the beverage.
The beverage not only lifts the spirits, it makes me feel more awake, more alert. And so we talk late into the night. He tells me about the sons of Seth and their star maps.
“The star-watchers say the stars are great fireballs, but my father says they are angels watching over us.”
“Perhaps both are true,” I say politely.
He says he has watched the sons of Seth in their worship of Yah. Each of the star maps has a location that represents our star and the fire is built on that spot. Then there is dancing, a complete abandonment of self.
“They are aware of each other only to the extent of knowing that others are also worshipping Yah. They are dancing completely to him.”
It is a vivid picture in my mind, although until now, I have only known the dances of the children of Cain. They dance to be seen by others. I lean forward. But what the man says next almost makes me fall off my chair.
“And when Yah comes, he dances with him.”
“Yahweh dances among them?”
“He has. Not recently. But he has. It is unlike anything you have ever seen.” For the moment, he is lost in the memory. “It is beautiful to watch. Unlike anything you have ever seen,” he repeats.
“Will he ever return?” I ask, more to myself than to the man.
“I have heard rumours that Yah moves among the settlements of Seth,” the man replies.
leep does not come easily. Both the drink and the conversation have left me longing, longing for something I have never known and something I do not want to live without.
But how can I ever hope to dance with the children of Seth when the only life I know is as a daughter of Cain?
Despite my poor sleep, I want to set out early the next day. I am eager to continue my journey.
But Baat's great-great-great grandfather gives me a disturbing warning. I am entering the land of the flying lizards. He nods toward Behemoth and says he will not be much good to me and will probably cower behind my robes.
Over a breakfast of raspberries and bread and more of the dark beverage, he tells me that he and his sons and their sons occasionally have to defend their fields from the predators. I think of the knife in my sack and ask what they use to defend their fields.
Bows and arrows. The creatures are big enough that they are hard to miss, even for the poorest shot. Not that it actually harms them. But it does scare them away, for a time.
I wonder if I should just turn around and return to one of the settlements. But if I did, I would never truly be accepted by them. I would always be the foreigner. Until I know more about the man who was the guardian of the manuscript, my father, I will have to continue on.
I know from the manuscript that Yah made the heavens and the earth. And it would seem that Yah's presence is among the children of Seth, even if he does not always make himself known. So before I set out, I whisper a request to the sky.
“Yah, watch over me.” Glancing down at Behemoth. “Us,” I add. That is all I can think to say at the moment so, trying to ignore the trepidation the old man's warning has created in me, Behemoth and I continue on alongside the river.
But there are no flying dragons today, though I can easily imagine them swooping along the plain. We are in fields of barley although I do not see any farmers or settlements. I will feel better when we are back to a sheltering forest. Past the barley fields are some green hills. They seem like the perfect spot for a winged dragon to make his home, high above the fields, so Behemoth and I follow the river and go around the hills. What we see on the other side causes us both to stop and just stare.
It is an impressive site to see two mighty rivers diverge. The Pishon is the mightier of the two and the one I must now follow according to Cainan.
But what is really stunning about the view is the biggest pyramid yet. It stands solitary on a vast plain. I have never seen such a large structure. Some of the apartments in Enoch were four-storeys high, but this pyramid makes them look like toys for children. It reaches into the sky and touches the clouds. I can only imagine that it must touch the stars at night.
I am no longer alone. Unlike the star maps, where only the animals moved among the pyramids, this plain has people moving around, although they look tiny next to the structure. There are men and women and cautiously, I approach an older woman.
“Good day, honoured mother,” I say.
“Good day, daughter,” she says.
For a moment I do not know how to proceed and then I realize what is happening at this site.
“I have come to worship Yah,” I say. “And I do not know how it is done.”
She nods, understanding.
“Over there . . . ” She points to something I did not notice. A large stone construction with a fire blazing on it. “It is the altar,” she says. “If one wants to, they can offer an animal to Yah as a sacrifice.” My eyes widen.
“It is enough to call on his name,” she says quickly. “Are you a daughter of Seth?”
“I do not know,” I say. “I do not know my true father and mother.”
She seems content with this reply and says that she is a daughter of Enosh, son of Seth.
Excited, I ask her if she ever knew of a man who wrote down the genealogies of the sons of Adam and the sons of Seth.
She nods. Her husband is a scribe.
I explain that I think I am the daughter of such a man, who lost his wife and only had me. And he died before I even had a memory of him.
She looks thoughtful.
“There have been other scribes,” she says. “But I do not think I knew your father.”
“Where are the manuscripts kept?” I ask.
“In here,” she says, pointing at the pyramid.
I am startled. I did not realize one could enter the structure.
“It is where we keep all our maps and all our genealogies.”
“I think my father may have traveled to the city of Cain to purchase a metal trunk to store the manuscripts,” I say.
“It is possible,” she says. “Although no one would need to do such a thing now. The traders provide us with bronze and iron items.”
It is incredible to think that my brother's metal objects make it this far.
“Why is there only one pyramid?” I ask.
“Because there is only one Yah,” she says, before drifting off.
As Behemoth and I circumvent the base of the pyramid, we notice the entranceway. The doorway is set back and it appears to go down underneath the structure and must come up somewhere inside it.
But most people do not have their eyes on the pyramid, they are either focused on the sky, or their eyes are closed in private conversation. I have never done such a thing, but Behemoth and I move far back from the pyramid and then I close my eyes and do what the daughter of Enosh said, I call on the name of Yah.
“Oh Yah, creator of all. Yah, creator of all the children of Adam. Oh Yah, our Elohim. My Elohim.”
Behemoth breaks the reverence of the moment with a bark. I see why and stand in awe.
Across the horizon comes a mighty sight, one of the flying lizards Baat's great-great-great grandfather warned me about.
Had I been alone, I would have shrunk in terror. But standing among the sons of Seth, I feel a strange fearlessness, as if I am seeing one of the wonders of Yah.
Each wing of the great dragon could cover ten men and his body looks almost as large as Behemoth's mother, though it is far more narrow and suited for flight. He swoops across the plain, steering clear of the pyramid, while all the children of Seth stand, watching. Behemoth is barking by my side, but I hardly notice.
When he has disappeared from sight, we all return to our worship. But as awesome as this pyramid is and as wonderful as it is to stand among the children of Seth, I do not feel that I have a right to be here until I know who I am. And for that, I must continue on.
Still heading west, Behemoth and I take a path through a forest. I do not trust myself to be brave should I see the flying dragon by myself.
Again, we have a night in the woods. There are smaller animals that visit us. Small furry creatures that must have been named by our Father Adam, but I am not familiar with. But they do not threaten us and even if one cautiously moves closer, Behemoth sends it off with a bark.
The night passes without incident and in the morning we carry on. My supplies are gone so apart from a drink from the Pishon, we do not have a breakfast.
When we come out of the forest we are in a bright world. The fields are cultivated with all sorts of foods – barley and other grains, green lettuces, a wide assortment of vegetables. There is a vineyard in the distance and an orchard beyond that.
I see an older man, who looks close in age to Baat's great-great-great grandfather. He is working in one of the fields and as I approach he looks up and gives me – and Behemoth- a smile.
“Welcome to my fields, daughter,” he calls out. “God's blessing on you.”
“God's blessing on you, esteemed father,” I say. “Do I walk among the sons of Seth?”
He laughs and puts down his gardening hoe.
“You walk among the sons and daughters of Adam now.”
My heart leaps as I realize who I am looking at.
“Father Adam?” I ask hesitantly.
He nods pleasantly.
“I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, daughter,” he says. “What is your name and from where do you come?”
“I am Havilah,” I say, hardly believing that I am talking to the father of all children. “I have come from the city of Cain.”
His eyes widen.
“And how is my son, Cain?” he asks and I think I hear a catch in his voice.
“He is well, Father,” I say. “He sits among the elders of the city.”
“He is respected by all,” I add.
“And you are a daughter of my son, Cain?”
I shake my head.
I do not want to tell him that one of the sons of Cain killed a young man, my father. He has carried enough sorrow with Cain killing his other son Abel.
“My father was a stranger,” I say. “He came to the sons of Cain to purchase a metal trunk. My brother . . . ” I correct myself. “I mean, Tubal-Cain, is a skilled craftsman.”
Adam is listening carefully. I did not realize that I would be able to talk to him like this.
“My father died among the children of Cain. He left behind a manuscript and a daughter.”
“And you were raised by the children of Cain?”
God bless them,” he says.
I nod again.
“I was held in honour and raised as a daughter in the household of Lamech. His son, Tubal-Cain is as a brother to me. His daughter, Naamah, is as a sister to me.”
“But what brought you this far from your family and home, dear child?” he asks. “Are you hungry?” he adds.
“Yes, Father, I am.”
He nods his head to follow him. Soon we are all on a carpet between the fields, drinking water and eating bread dipped in the oil of olives, seasoned with field herbs.
And we are joined by Ariel.
At first, I am terrified. Behemoth growls in a way I have never heard him do before. But Adam soothes both animals. Behemoth gets a comforting pat on the head and Ariel is coaxed to sit down beside Father Adam.
Adam asks me again why I have come so far.
I tell him that I have always known about the manuscript but that it is only recently that I found out that it belonged to my true father.
He nods, understanding. I have the sense that there is very little that would surprise Father Adam.
“I would have hesitated to make such a journey,” I say. “Except that I recently became engaged to be married. But I did not want to become entangled until I knew who I was.”
“When you know who you are, will you return to your husband-to-be?” he asks.
I am silent.
“Why did you run away, daughter?” he asks, gently.
“I did not feel worthy of the love shown to me by Semjaza,” I say, trying to answer as honestly as possible.
Adam takes this in.
“Semjaza?” he says. “That is an unusual name.”
“He is an unusual man. He is not a son of Cain. He came from somewhere else. He says he came from the stars.” I laugh but quickly realize Adam does not find it amusing.
“From the stars,” he repeats, more to himself.
I nod again.
“He came to Enoch and I do not know why he chose me. I only know there are women more beautiful than me.”
Adam looks at me, appraisingly.
“Perhaps he had a different reason. Tell me about the manuscript.”
I do better than that. I pull it out of the sack, unwrap the animal skins and hand it to him. He wipes his hands on his tunic before accepting it.
It takes him a few minutes to skim it and when he is done he looks at me.
“If this manuscript is your father's, then you are a daughter of Seth,” he says. “Only the children of Seth gather information like this. They store it in that pyramid of theirs. They have records of everything. I am sure that your father was sent to the city of Cain to get the records of all the births there. To date, I do not think anyone ever has.”
“He came to purchase a trunk,” I say.
“That would only be part of his mission,” Adam assures me, carefully returning the manuscript to animal skins and handing it back to me. “Only the traders visit Enoch and they do not care about genealogies. But tell me more about Semjaza.”
I tell Father Adam everything I can think of and it is my impression that he is growing more and more concerned as I talk. When I conclude with the story of Semjaza's brothers on the road to Enoch, he shakes his head, though he does not speak.
When he finally does, he says, “May I offer you advice, daughter?”
“Of course,” I say, leaning forward.
“Do not return to Enoch,” he says.
My eyes widen.
I do not ask why and he does not seem to want to talk further although we finish our meal in a congenial silence.
When we are done and are back on our feet, I ask him if he has any idea who my father was.
“Hawwa would know,” he says, confirming my belief that a mother knows all her children. “Or my son, Seth, would know. You can find Hawwa beyond the trees.” He points to some lovely trees with white bark.
Father Adam returns to his fields, Ariel curls up for a nap and Behemoth and I carry on. Our journey's end is just beyond the trees!
Hawwa's home is made of cedar logs. Although it is two-storeys high, it is larger than any house I have seen on my journey. Even the richest people in Enoch did not have homes of this size, although they had more luxurious dwellings. This house is simple and welcoming.
Around the front are animals. No doubt they are the children of the ones that accompanied Father Adam and Hawwa from the Garden. Two tall-necked creatures with orange spots contentedly munch the leaves of a tree. In the trees themselves are strange hairy creatures that swing as they please from branch to branch. I recognize some of the other animals. There are two small brown bears, probably cubs. Some foxes. Some of the smaller lizards. (Behemoth barks at them, a bark of greeting, I think.)
And there are children – many, many children. Some of them are playing in a large pen of rabbits. Others are having pony rides. A couple of older girls are watching them from under a shade tree while women come and go from the front door.
The ease at which people come and go inspires me to give Behemoth a quick reassuring pat and then go up the stairs, across the wide verandah and through the front door.
Inside, it is just as warm and welcoming with wood-panelled walls and comfortable wooden furniture lined with cushions. I hear laughing in another room and there is a delicious smell coming from the courtyard. I follow the smell and find a group of women around an iron stove. It is Tubal-Cain's craftsmanship. I can hardly believe it. Seeing the familiar item in Hawwa's courtyard causes an emotion to rise in me that I have not felt up until this point.
Regret for what I have left behind. Regret for losing a brother and a sister. Who was dearer to me than my brother, Tubal-Cain? And I start to weep.
Immediately, I am surrounded by sympathetic women and am ushered to one of the comfortable benches around the edge of the courtyard.
I do not know how it happens, but when my weeping abates, there is a long-haired older woman seated on the bench beside me. She is wearing an embroidered dress and has a shawl around her shoulders. She reaches out a comforting hand and puts it on my arm.
“What is it, my daughter?” she asks.
Even in my sorrow, I know I am talking to Hawwa, Mother of All Living.
And I tell her my whole story.
She listens without interruption, although I know my story stirs emotion in her. She has not seen her son, Cain, since he left for the Land of Wandering. The fact that I was adopted into a family and loved by them encourages her. But the circumstance surrounding my adoption disturbs her. When I tell her that it is one of my brother Tubal-Cain's stoves in her courtyard, she weeps with me. She speaks then, telling me she longs for the children of Cain, though she has never been able to meet with them. They are out of Yah's presence and she dare not venture beyond the settlement of Roeh and his mother.
Having known the presence of Yah in the Garden, she is far more sensitive to his whereabouts than any of her children.
“Do you know my father, Mother?” I ask.
“I do, daughter. You are indeed a daughter of Seth. Your father was a great-grandson of my Seth. Enosh is Seth's oldest son and leads the sons of Seth now. Enosh has a brother, Sofer. He is the father of the scribes and is guardian of all the documents and records that they keep in the Great Pyramid. Sofer has many sons, but his oldest is your grandfather. The children of Sofer all work with the documents and keep records of all our achievements. That was probably why your father and mother travelled beyond the presence of Yah.”
“To include the achievements of the sons of Cain?” I say.
A horrible thought occurs to me.
“I was born outside his presence.”
She nods again and holds my hand.
“But you are back in it now. It is your mother who suffered most by being out of it. When I bore my first son I called to Yah and he gave me a child. But when she called out, he was not there.”
We sit in silence, sharing the sorrow.
“What was my father's name?” I ask, after a while.
“Rasujal,” says Hawwa, without hesitation. “You say your name is Havilah?”
“I would be surprised if it is your true name. Perhaps it was given to you because they believed it was where your father came from.”
“What does it mean?”
“Your name means to dance. But alas, there is sadness attached to it. The same dance can be an expression of pain. If you would like my daughter, I can suggest a better name. Baraka. It means blessed and it was the name of your mother.”
“Baraka,” I whisper. The name of my own mother!
“Baraka!” I say, smiling. “That will be my name!”
Hawwa also smiles.
One of the women in the courtyard approaches and tells us the food is ready. Hawwa holds my arm as we return into the house and all the people present take a seat around a large table. The children are called in from outside and they fill up all the spaces, some on their mother's lap, others on couches, some even on the floor.
Then some of the daughters of Hawwa bring out platters of food. There is bean dip and bread. Bowls of fruit are put in the centre of the table. What smelled so lovely turns out to be a bread pastry with sliced apples baked into it. It is delicious and unlike anything I have had in Enoch. A woman beside me tells me it is sweetened with sugarcane and seasoned with spices that Hawwa grows in her garden.
As I eat and the women talk around me, a picture is forming in my mind. It is a picture of a young man who has just lost his wife to childbirth and now has a newborn daughter to name. He remembers the dances to Yah but he is out of Yah's presence. And he is feeling the intense pain of losing his wife. Perhaps he did name me Havilah.
“Rasujal,” I whisper.
am invited by Hawwa to stay with her and Father Adam for as long as I want. The rooms of her house are filled with her children. Beside me is a mother whose husband died while cutting down a giant oak tree.
The large table is filled at night. Everyday, Adam and some of his grandsons or great-grandsons bring in fresh vegetables that are turned into soup over the open fire in the courtyard. Tubal-Cain's stove is used for baking the bread to feed the large household, though sometimes it is used for sweet pastries filled with apples or figs or dates.
Over the next few days, I learn how to cook. I never had the chance, working in Tubal-Cain's shop. The daughters of Hawwa show me how to bake vegetable cobbler in Tubal-Cain's stove. I also make an aubergine dish with tomato sauce and bread topping that is praised by all. Adam grows two kinds of potatoes – white and sweet. They show me ways to use both. There are different types of squash. And all sorts of beans. I tell them about the beans grown by the nicotiana farmer. Hawwa smiles and says she has tasted the brew they make when she travels down the river and stops for a visit.
“I prefer to sweeten it with some sugar cane, though,” she says.
Here they drink a mint tea. Some drink it plain, others with sugar cane. Everyone works hard here, but for those who are in or near the house, there is a break for talk and tea in the afternoon.
Adam has summoned Sofer to come to his home to meet with me. Sofer is the guardian of the Great Pyramid and was probably inside it the day I passed by. I do not know what to expect. I am a little afraid to meet such a patriarch.
But when he comes the next day, I am not prepared for his reaction to seeing me. First he looks at me, then he embraces me and begins to weep.
Respectfully, most of the household keeps busy elsewhere and it is only Father Adam, Hawwa, Sofer and myself in the sitting room.
Sofer tells me that I am the image of his wife when she was young. Hawwa nods. Rasujal was his great-grandson, but my mother was also his great-grandchild. My parents were cousins.
“She has chosen to take the name of her mother, Baraka,” says Hawwa to Sofer. “For indeed, she is blessed.”
Sofer almost starts weeping again and remarks that my mother left behind the blessings when she left the presence of Yah.
Sofer is beholden to me for the return of the manuscript. And the manuscript itself is part of a new story, the story of my father's experiences among the sons of Cain. Sofer is a master scribe and we start working on a document about the sons of Cain right away.
I tell him that Cain was the father of Enoch, the reason our city has that name. Sofer nods as he writes.
“Enoch was the father of Irad,” I say. “Irad was the father of Mehujael. Mehujael was the father of Methushael.”
I pause to let Sofer catch up.
I glance at Hawwa. There is pain on her face. These are children she has never met.
“Methushael was the father of Lamech,” I continue. “The man who raised me as his own daughter. He had two wives. The first was Adah. Adah bore him Jabal and Jubal.”
Now I am talking about what is most familiar and I go into more detail.
“Jabal is the father of tent-dwellers and cultivators of livestock. Jubal is the father of harp and flute players.”
Sofer is writing all this down.
“Zillah was the woman who raised me. She had Tubal-Cain.” I blink back a tear. “He is the father of all workers of bronze and iron. His sister is Naamah.”
When we are finished, it is afternoon and one of the daughters of Hawwa tells us that the mint tea is ready. Many people want to visit with Sofer. But before he allows them to lead him to the table, he embraces me one more time and tells me my inheritance is among the sons of Seth. I am welcome to make my home in any settlement among them and I must always come to him if I have a need.
I nod and now we are both weeping.
But the tea is refreshing. Though afterwards, I must go upstairs to my room and rest. It is Hawwa herself who comes up to tell me that the evening meal is ready.
“Mother?” I say, sitting up on my bed, while she takes the chair beside it.
“Yes, my daughter?”
“There is a settlement I would like to return to.”
“Which one, my daughter?”
“The one of Mahalalel and his children.”
She smiles and I might be imagining it, but I think there is a sparkle in her eye.
“You are welcome to do so,” she says, taking my hand. “A child of Sofer will be accepted in any settlement of Seth.”
I am not imagining it. Hawwa is pleased with my choice. She sits, deep in thought, smiling. Then she nods.
“Yes, my daughter. That is the place for you.”
pause in my raking.
Chaya has brought us out a sweet lemon drink to refresh our thirst.
Mahalalel and I are expanding his garden. He loves my aubergine and tomato dish and wants to include those vegetables in his garden. Chaya wants some different kinds of mint for tea. She is enchanted by the stories I am able to tell about Father Adam and Hawwa and their household. She has never gone further than the Great Pyramid where the Tigris and Pishon meet.
Hawwa herself escorted me here to my new home. It was her season for visiting her children and I was invited to accompany her. The event brought out all the children of Mahalalel, including the quiet Jared.
I remember the visit well.
Hawwa took a special interest in Jared, requesting that he escort her to his home down the river. Jared blushed and they headed off down the path.
Chaya was amused.
“What is it?” I asked her.
“Our Mother is giving him The Talk.”
“The Talk?” I said.
She nodded as we returned to her father's house to continue preparations for the evening meal. It was to be extra special with Hawwa and there would be more people to feed. I was welcomed back as a daughter and was relieved that they did not treat me as a guest but let me immediately join Chaya in the courtyard to help with the food.
“The Talk,” said Chaya. “He is well past 150-years-old now. He must take a wife. If one of her sons does not have a wife by this time, Hawwa gives him The Talk. She and Adam were instructed to multiply and she considers it her responsibility to ensure that all her children follow in the practice.”
Chaya and I had giggled, but afterward, I had kept an eye on Jared. He had been thoughtful throughout the festivities and Hawwa had been particularly attentive to him, seemingly encouraging him. No doubt, it is a big event to choose a wife.
Today we are preparing for another special visitor. Our Father Seth.
Chaya is experimenting with an oat and honey biscuit that she hopes he will enjoy. I will make my aubergines and tomatoes, though for now, I will have to rely on vegetables traded with the settlement of Cainan. It will still be awhile before we have aubergines and tomatoes.
Even Mahalalel is hurrying around his garden deciding what will be appropriate for the visit. He will harvest some of the nuts and the sunflower seeds for his great-grandfather's visit. His wife, Dinah, has been preparing fruit, drying it in the sun to perfect its sweetness.
Chaya has become a sister to me and we talk about everything. She confides in me that at the time of Father Seth's visit, Jared will announce his upcoming wedding. But she does not tell me who his wife will be. I probably do not even know her.
Chaya laments that we will not be able to offer Father Seth any mint tea, entirely convinced in her mind that mint tea epitomizes all that is gracious. I laugh and say that her berry juice is the finest I have tasted in my travels and will be a worthy drink to serve our esteemed forefather.
When the lemon drink is finished, Mahalalel and I return to our work.
I have just finished planting another row of tomatoes when I see a pair of feet beside me and hear the sound of someone clearing his throat.
I look up and see Jared.
Standing up, I brush the dirt off my hands and smile. It is unusual to see him here during the day. He spends all of his time near his home, creating a garden and all the other things that must be done before a settlement can be established.
I turn my back on Jared, thinking he must be here to talk to his father. But his father just glances at him and returns to his gardening. Bewildered, I turn and look at Jared. He is still staring at me.
I have never really looked carefully at him. Like me, his hair is the colour of sand. He is not as tall as Semjaza, but I have never met a man who was. But nonetheless, among the sons of Seth, Jared is tall. To say his face is handsome would be to detract from the other features that distinguish him. He is most certainly shy, but he is also serene, I think. Maybe even kind.
This is the first time anyone has said my new name. And up until now, all Jared has done is nod at me in passing.
“Would you care to join me for a walk?”
Rather than protest at losing his gardening partner, Mahalalel seems to be pretending that he has no awareness of this whole exchange.
It would be highly impolite to refuse.
“Thank you, Jared,” I reply. “Perhaps I should return to the house and put on a new robe . . . ”
There is dirt on my robe, from where I crouched down to plant the tomatoes. In addition, I am certain I have soil on my face. My hands are filthy.
“You look perfect,” says Jared. And then he turns bright red. I have never seen a man turn as red as Jared does at this moment.
“I would be happy to go for a walk,” I say quickly.
We start walking and I realize we are going in the direction of Jared's house.
There is not much talk along the way. I make a remark about the small furry creatures that run around the forest. He says they are called squirrels. I comment that if our father Mahalalel is not careful, they will eat all his nuts before our Father Seth arrives. Jared agrees.
When we arrive at his house, he takes me on a tour of his estate.
Like Mahalalel, he has an extensive garden. He is particularly proud of a patch of asparagus. None of his brothers have it in their gardens.
I admire his orchard. It is an impressive mix of trees – peaches, apples, pears, almonds, hazelnut.
Whatever his shortcomings are socially, there is nothing lacking about his industriousness.
The house itself is two storeys and sturdily built.
Then we take a walk through the forest on the other side of his home. I gasp when we come out of the woods.
It is the plain where his star map is to be. The amount of labour it takes to create one of these is evident in even this earliest stage. The field is covered with felled trees. That would explain Jared's muscles. I have no doubt that the head of his ax was purchased from the traders and made by my brother, Tubal-Cain.
“My brothers will come and help me move the trunks,” he says to me. “It is not something one has to do until one is married. But I wanted to start.”
But Jared is ill at ease. I do not think I have ever seen a man in such distress. It puts me in mind of the way Naamah used to look . . .
I look at him more carefully. The signs are unmistakable. Jared looks ill. I have only seen a man ill once. It was in the tents of Jabal and the man ate some berries that were inedible.
I think fast and make a quick decision. The right decision.
“It is awe-inspiring,” I say, looking out over the future star map. “It will honour Yah.”
Jared relaxes slightly.
“Your house is well-built and you have created a beautiful estate,” I continue. “There would be no finer place to live.”
“I am so relieved you said so,” says Jared, now actually starting to look normal. “I have brought you here, that is to say, I am . . . Well, it is hard to find the words . . . ”
I try to look encouraging.
“Will you be my wife?” he blurts out.
It is a decision I only made a moment ago, but I answer without hesitation.
“Yes, Jared, I will be your wife. And you will be my husband,” I add. In the city of Cain, it is important to establish the terms of agreement from the start. I do not know how it works in the settlements of Seth, but if a wife does not speak from the start, the arrangement is subject to change. I have agreed to be his wife, implying that I will take no other husband. If he agrees to be my husband, then he is consenting to not take another wife.
“I will be your husband,” he says, taking my hand.
Then he takes me around the future star map. He has already mapped out where the different pyramids will go. I ask him what portion of the sky is his and he points to a spot overhead.
“It will be our great-great-grandchildren who finish mapping the sky,” he says. “I pray I live to see it.”
That is the uncertainty of death. We know it exists, but few people have experienced it. We do not know if it will come upon us as a result of a foolish accident, or whether Yah has some other way of bringing it about. Our father Adam has lived for over 400 earth cycles around the sun.
Now that we have settled the issue that we will be husband and wife, Jared is more relaxed. He is still a quiet man, saving his speech for significant observations. But I appreciate this quality. The sons of Cain would often sit and drink wine and fritter away the evenings with insignificant subjects.
“I must return you to my family,” he says. “Will it be acceptable to you to save the announcement of our upcoming marriage until our Father Seth arrives?”
“Of course,” I say. “And I rejoice that when I meet our Father Seth for the first time, it will be as your wife-to-be.”
He takes my hand for the walk back and although most of it is in silence, it is not uncomfortable. I inquire about some of the plants in the forest and he points out to me all the ones that can be used for food. He picks a handful of delicate green leaves and tells me to add them to the pot tonight and everyone will praise the meal for its flavour.
Jared gives me a courteous God's blessing when he leaves me at the edge of the clearing that is Mahalalel's settlement. Although I return to the house and say nothing, Chaya is ecstatic.
She knows but she wants to be sure.
When we are in the courtyard preparing the evening meal she inquires about my day.
“Most pleasant, sister,” I say.
“More pleasant than usual?” she inquires eagerly.
“Yes, I would say so.”
Dinah, her mother is also hovering around with a smile on her face.
“He is quiet, of course, but he has many good qualities,” says Chaya.
“Who?” I ask, pretending ignorance.
I burst into laughter at the look on Chaya's face. That is when her words come out like a raging river.
“My brother, of course! He has loved you ever since he laid eyes on you, but he was too shy to speak and mother and I have been so in despair over his silence that we nearly did all the talking for him . . . !”
“Your brother spoke well,” I assure her.
Chaya looks pleased.
“If it is so, it is because I have been helping him.”
We return our attention to the pot. I add the leaves that Jared picked in the forest. When the soup is served, Jared is right. Mahalalel demands to know why it tastes so good and when he finds out, he announces that we will take an excursion into the forest to dig up some of those particular herbs to transplant into his garden.
Chaya and her mother confer with one another after the meal about the upcoming wedding. I gather I will have very little to worry about with both of them planning everything.
Mahalalel pretends to know nothing about what they are talking about and says that if there is going to be a wedding, it will be announced when Father Seth arrives. The message is clear. The wedding should not be discussed until the engagement is announced.
But there is no stopping Chaya and her mother. Mahalalel sighs and invites me to join him on the porch for a cup of lemon tea.
“My son is a good man,” he says to me, when we are seated. Despite that it is not official, he seems willing to talk. “He fears Yah.”
“I know,” I say. “That is why I have no concerns.”
“I am glad to hear you say it, daughter.”
Of course, they all know I abandoned one husband-to-be in Enoch.
“My heart is here, father,” I say to him. “Yah is here.”
Mahalalel shakes his head.
“Yah is not here, but perhaps he will return to us.”
“The people of Yah are here,” I say. “I will wait with them for him to appear.”
“Well spoken, daughter.”
We sip the tea as some of the forest creatures move into the clearing. Mahalalel abandons his tea to shoo away a small rabbit who tries to sneak a carrot from the garden.
“Father!” I cry out, laughing. “He is only a baby! How much can he eat?”
“He will return to his family and tell them that Mahalalel's garden is available for all to enjoy,” he replies.
“I will go get Behemoth,” I say, standing up. “He will enjoy chasing away the creatures that try to visit the garden.”
I go inside to the courtyard. That's usually where I find Behemoth, who is spoiled by the entire household with samplings of food. He is still a companion to me and sleeps at the foot of my bed.
Behemoth is a willing guard of Mahalalel's garden. He spends the remainder of the evening dashing toward the forest and trotting back to me for a pat on the head every time he chases something away.
Our Father Seth is a kind man who spurns all ceremony.
He arrives on foot accompanied only by one of his younger sons. They are touring all the settlements of the eldest sons. He is embraced by Mahalalel and then we are all lined up so that he can greet all his children and meet any new additions to the family.
I am greeted with special warmth. I think it has somehow been conveyed to him that I will be Jared's wife and thus, the mother of a new settlement.
A lavish meal is served outside the house and then we all convene to Mahalalel's star map.
Jared, though quiet, is always at my side when he is here at his father's settlement. He leaves me only to assist his brothers in chopping down a tree from the forest. Soon there is a fire blazing among the pyramids.
I quickly realize that this will be an evening of talk, not dance. But I learn much just by listening.
I gather that Seth carries the burden of being the replacement of Abel. Here, among the sons of Seth, Abel is discussed. His acceptable sacrifice to Yah is contrasted with Cain's unacceptable one. And so, they conclude, the children of Cain continue to offer unacceptable sacrifices to him.
My heart breaks to hear the children of Cain discussed in this way. Because no one except me has lived among them, it is natural to think that they do not fear Yah, even now. But the children of Cain do not know Yah and I am shy to point this out. I think Tubal-Cain would fear Yah if he knew him.
I muse on the reason for this loss of knowledge. I think shame caused Father Cain not to pass on the knowledge of Yah to his children. Shame at having failed Yah, and no doubt shame at the knowledge that he brought it upon himself. Father Cain was devastated to leave the presence of Yah. It is a burden no son of Seth could imagine.
Seth is at the centre of the talk, but all participate.
Abel was the first righteous man.
As honoured as Father Adam and Hawwa are, it is freely discussed that they made the wrong choice in the Garden. Hawwa was deceived and Father Adam deliberately chose to do what was wrong.
Around the fire, all discuss this. No one is arrogant enough to think that he or she would not do the same.
But Abel pleased Yah, and lost his life when his jealous brother killed him.
Father Seth points out that the only reason this has not happened again is that no one, not even those among his own children, serve Yah with the heart that Abel did.
Abel, father of none. Seth laments his brother's lack of progeny. He says that since our Mother was given him as a replacement for Abel, we must all be Abel's children too, and our lives must honour his memory.
There is much nodding around the huge fire.
Seth stays with us for many days and goes for leisurely walks with everyone in his family. I, too, get to visit with him. Jared and I walk through the forest with him, arriving at Jared's settlement and ending up at the future star map. The final night of Father Seth's visit will be here and that is when our engagement will be officially announced.
Once seated on one of the logs scattered in the field, Father Seth turns from the topic of life at Mahalalel's settlement and asks me to tell him my story. No detail is too small for him. He craves all news of his Rasujal, his lost great-grandson, and cries gently when I tell the story that I only recently heard myself, the story of how Lamech killed my father for injuring him. He acknowledges, however, that though the sons of Cain are without Yah, I was well treated.
Like Father Adam, the presence of Semjaza and his brothers in Enoch is disturbing to him.
“We have genealogies of all the children of Adam, except for Cain,” he says, “But I know of no one named Semjaza. Now, if he were a son of Cain, it would be understandable because no one since Rasujal has ventured there to gain knowledge of the children of Cain. But Semjaza and his brothers are not from Enoch.”
I feel a chill.
Oh Yah!” Seth suddenly cries out.
“What is it, Father Seth?” asks Jared. He does not like the story of my engagement to Semjaza, but in all fairness, he knows I had very little to do with it.
“Think, my son!” says Seth turning to him. “If they did not come from the earth, where did they come from?”
“Surely it is not possible that Semjaza and his brothers really did come from the stars?” says Jared.
“Did he ever speak of his mother?” Seth asks me.
I shake my head.
“No, only of his father.”
“The father that dwells among the stars,” says Seth grimly.
“Why would they choose to live among the children of Cain?” asks Jared.
“They seek a city as far away as possible from Yah,” says Seth. “We still have his sheltering presence here. Though often it is unseen.”
he sobering thought that those other than the children of Adam also inhabit this earth is not enough to diminish the festivities of the final night of Seth's visit.
The bonfire, fed by some of the large felled trees, is as bright as the sun, though the sun has long since disappeared below the horizon.
It is no surprise to anyone when Seth announces mine and Jared's engagement, but now everyone can offer their congratulations. And even more importantly, plans for the star map can now begin. Even tonight, large trees have been rearranged by Jared and his brothers to mark the locations of some of the brighter stars. Jared himself has spent many nights out here, making a map on animal skins, so that all the stars in his portion of the sky will be represented on the ground.
The wedding itself will take place at Mahalalel's star map though. It will be our son who someday gets married here when Jared's map is complete.
Chaya and her mother are already talking about the wedding, set for the next full moon. Seth assures us that Sofer will attend the ceremony. This generates some talk. Sofer is rarely seen among the sons of Seth, known to spend most of his time in the Great Pyramid, but as a direct descendant, I can expect him to attend my wedding.
The possibility that Father Adam and Hawwa will attend is also high. Though they now have too many descendants to attend each wedding, everyone hopes that they might make the journey for this one.
Dinah, my adopted mother, sitting beside Mahalalel who is beside Seth, puts forth the worry that Semjaza may show up too, to claim his wife-to-be. She has a full scenario worked out in her mind. The nosey traders will inquire about who is getting married and pass the news up and down the river and even as far as Enoch. Semjaza will hear of it and come here to drag me back to the city of Cain. Chaya is rolling her eyes, but I can tell she is just as concerned. I am grateful that Jared is far out of hearing-range, out beyond the light of the fire, discussing the star map with Kenaz and his other brothers.
Seth quickly dismisses the fear as absurd. Semjaza and his brothers have chosen to be outside of the presence of Yah. They will not be venturing into the settlements of Seth.
Though this is encouraging to Chaya and her mother, it is unsettling for me to think of Naamah and Tubal-Cain back in Enoch with Semjaza and his brothers. As much as I longed to make this journey to find my true father's family, part of me wants to make the journey back.
But it is only part of me.
Having come this far and returned to a land that still knows Yah, I know I cannot go back. In many ways, Chaya and I are closer to each other than Naamah and I ever were. Chaya is strong-spirited. She does not overly concern herself with her outward appearance and seems indifferent to marriage, although Mahalalel will no doubt choose a cousin for her to marry at some point.
But as it turns out, I do have an opportunity to hear news of my family back in Enoch.
The next day, Seth returns to his settlement and preparing for my new life with Jared begins. Chaya and her mother will plan the wedding. I am content to leave all details of the day to them. But Jared is eager to have my participation in making ready our new home. The exterior is solid wood and built with care. But the interior is nothing more than wood floors, a few shelves and a bed. Up until now, he has been content to cook over an open fire in the courtyard, but I insist that if I am going to prepare him all the meals I have learnt to make, I will need one of Tubal-Cain's iron stoves.
Of course, Tubal-Cain never actually made the stoves. They were made by the craftsmen in the courtyard in order to keep up with the demand.
Jared says we will go out to the river and flag down the traders. Mahalalel's settlement is not a regular stop for them, but if you want to purchase something, you simply have to wave for them and they will dock.
Of course, it may be a long wait by the river. We pack some fruit and bread and Jared does not seem to begrudge the day away from his garden and future star map.
By the riverbank, we enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. There are animals on the opposite bank coming from the forest for a drink. Jared says they know better than to cross the river lest they end up as a rug for Kenaz's children.
It is thanks to his brother that Jared has so many animal skins to write on. He repays his brother with vegetables. Most of the animal skins are traded to the children of Sofer to use for their records.
Jared has time to show me how to weave a basket with the large reeds growing nearby. He confesses that this is the first time he has actually made one, but as a boy, he used to watch his mother do it.
Then, coming down the river, we see the large wooden barge. When it gets closer, Jared stands up and waves for them to stop.
The stove will be expensive but I have brought all the coins I still have from Enoch. I did not need most of them on my journey here since people were so generous.
The knife I will keep as a present to give to Jared on our wedding day.
The traders stop at a rough wooden dock and I am grateful to have my tall husband-to-be with me. They look like the same men who eyed me on my journey to Hawwa. But today it is all business. We are gratified to find out that they have an iron stove and we will not have to wait until their next visit.
“We would have surely sold it somewhere along the river,” the headman assures us. “You are fortunate.”
It is typical of the traders to refer to fortune rather than to Yah. I think only the records in the Great Pyramid could actually tell you whose children these men are. They seem to no longer care themselves.
My coins are recognized as being from Enoch and that gets the headman talking about current events in the city.
I can tell that Jared would just tune out everything the man has to say, make the exchange and walk away with his stove. But I am curious.
I inquire about the health and prosperity of the people of Enoch.
The headman nods with approval at my interest. One of the main perks of their profession is that they can pass news on to all the communities, although I doubt too many of the sons of Seth ask about the health of the sons of Cain.
“They are preparing for a wedding,” he says. “The biggest one the city has seen for years.”
Jared and I look at one another.
“Blessed be the couple,” I say. “Which family is preparing for this joyful occasion?” I hope my voice is steady and casual.
“It is the household of Lamech,” says the headman. “I have never seen such preparations.” He shakes his head. “My return trip will be entirely filled with supplies for their celebrations.”
Only my sister, Naamah, is unmarried in our family. So it must be her wedding. Is it possible she will have our cousin Qayin after all, or did Tubal-Cain find someone more worthy?”
“And the family of the groom?” I ask. “Are they kinsmen?”
“Oh no,” says the man. “I doubt very much the celebrations would be so lavish if it were just a family wedding. The groom is most esteemed.”
I have a sick feeling in my stomach.
“Is the groom a son of Cain?” I ask, still trying to sound as if it is all just indifferent gossip to me.
“Mercy no,” says the man, as two of the traders come up from below carrying our stove. My Jared will be able to carry it himself.
“He is an outsider,” the man continues. “No one knows the name of his father, but he is known as Semjaza.”
My hands go cold.
“He has brothers and the house of Lamech will only be the first to celebrate a wedding of one of their daughters to the clan.”
The traders are ready to move on. The stove now stands on the riverbank. There are far more populated stops to make along the river. Before they push away though, I ask the man if he has any cotton from Dalath.
He nods and with my last few coins I purchase a large piece of the material.
Jared and I walk back to the house in silence. He has heard every word the trader said and I know he is sympathetic to the effect it has on me. From his perspective, it is good news. Semjaza will never make a claim on me since he is now violating our engagement by marrying another. It is clear that Naamah is replacing me. I wonder how it came about and hope dearly that it was not a matter of appeasement or family honour. I also wonder about my sister. Is she a willing participant in this? There is no doubt that Semjaza exceeds Qayin in manly qualities but will his strength be a blessing or a curse?
But I have my own wedding to think of. I am using the cotton to make a dress, although it is more accurate to say that Dinah is helping me to make the dress. Chaya is impressed with my choice of material and says that if she ever gets married, she will choose cotton for her dress too.
As exciting as it is to prepare for marriage to Jared, it is even more exciting to find out from Chaya that a wedding among the sons of Seth always involves a dance to Yah. For among the sons of Seth, a wedding is not a reenactment of the relationship between Father Adam and Hawwa, it is a celebration of the oneness of Yah. Father Adam has taught his children that when Yah made man and woman, they were made to resemble him. A man and woman, together, are made in the image of Yah.
On a more mundane level, our house is slowly filling up with furniture. Now that Jared is going to be married, everyone makes something for our home. Items come from not just the settlement of Mahalalel, but from Cainan as well.
Chaya and her mother make a beautiful bedspread. Mahalalel has made some elegant wooden benches. Countless reed baskets now fill our kitchen.
Mahalalel insists that I no longer assist him in his garden. I must help Jared in what will soon by my own garden. And Mahalalel says with a twinkle in his eye, his garden will amply supply us with mint for tea at my wedding.
Behemoth still trots around beside me everywhere I go. And that gets me into trouble a week before the wedding.
Jared insists on coming early every morning to his father's settlement to retrieve me. I tell him I will be happy to make my way there by myself but he says he does not want me to fall into the hands of violent men.
“But Jared,” I say. “I travelled all through this land and encountered no one who did me harm.”
“You were under Yah's protection,” he says. “There is no other explanation for it.”
“We are among the sons of Seth,” I protest. “They all call upon the name of Yah.”
“Not all of them do,” he stubbornly insists. “And not all who travel along the river are the sons of Seth.”
I remember the feeling of discomfort I had when the traders were looking at me. I almost tell Jared no one ever accosted me in Enoch but then I remember how Tubal-Cain did not want me out in the streets at night.
Seven days before our wedding, Jared is too busy with plans for the star map to come get me. Mahalalel will not let me help in the garden and Chaya and her mother shoo me out of the courtyard. They have this crazy idea that I should get a lot of rest before my life with Jared.
But I really want to be with Jared this day. I have mint to plant in my own garden and weeds that need pulling out.
Behemoth barks at me as I aimlessly wander outside and I look down at him.
He was such a faithful companion on our journey here and I know he will protect me from any harm.
So I decide to walk there on my own with Behemoth as my escort. I will not walk directly along the river but will cut through the forest. Only sons of Seth use the forest path. Any stranger would take the river path.
I set out carrying some of the mint plants and within minutes of entering the forest can no longer see the settlement of Mahalalel. The forest is a different world. Kenaz would normally be here somewhere but today I know he is with Jared. The next few years will be entirely devoted to Jared's star map. Anyone not doing the actual work will support the workers, providing them and their families with food. Some of the blocks at the base of the pyramids will be one hundred tons in weight. The stone is supplied by the children of Seth's third son, Avanim, who have quarries in several locations running parallel to the settlements. They are not close enough to the river to transport the stones by boat, so for each new settlement, a path must be cut through the forest to bring in the stones. That has already started, but I will not see any of it from the direction I am coming.
That is why I am startled when I hear voices, angry male voices. I am about halfway to Jared's settlement and in the forest, not on the path, is a trio of men. My first instinct is to turn back. But Behemoth barks.
The voices stop. The men turn and see me.
Now it is too late.
Behemoth has gotten bigger in the short time we have been friends but he is nowhere near the size of his mother. He is only up to my shoulders. Three men with spears could easily bring his young life to an end. But these men do not have spears. They have knives.
To my horror, I realize the knives are dripping with blood and the reason is the crumpled form on the ground. I cannot even tell whether the person on the ground is male or female, only that blood is seeping onto the leaves and into the ground.
I turn and run.
“Yah, Yah, Yah.” It is all I can say. I do not know if he can hear. I only know that no one else can save me, not Jared, not Mahalalel and certainly not Behemoth galloping along beside me. He is not running away, he is only trotting along to keep up with me. And he almost causes me to trip.
Behind me, I can hear the men.
Their words are a blur of imperatives.
“Faster, you fool!”
But I am running for my life.
It becomes too hard to gasp out to Yah.
But I start to think I may have the advantage. I know the path. I am lighter on my feet. But then a knife whizzes by me.
Not able to stop me, the strategy is to kill me. I realize this with fresh terror.
To Behemoth, it is just a game of tag. The knife means nothing to him. I make an instant decision to just keep running and ignore the knife. The path is too narrow to dodge from left to right so as I run I am an easy target if these men are skilled with a knife.
If I were close enough to our settlement to yell, I would use my last breaths to call for help. But it is too great a distance to hope that anyone would hear me at this point.
No second knife comes but I will be an absurdly easy prey when I collapse. Although I have gained slightly, the men behind me have the same amount of endurance and it is only a matter of time before I collapse and am faced with three men. Even if Behemoth can occupy the attention of one man, my prospect of coming out of this unscathed is low.
If only Kenaz were somewhere in these woods! His bow and arrow would quickly put an end to the men chasing me, or at least scare them into turning around.
It occurs to me that if I get out of this alive I will be too ashamed to tell Jared about it. After all, is this not exactly what he warned me about?
“Oh Yah!” I gasp one more time, remembering Jared's insistence that only his presence was what kept me safe in my journey.
With that, I feel myself on the edge of collapse.
I run . . . and run . . . and run. And drop.
Behemoth immediately falls on top of me and licks my face. He thinks it is just good sport.
I can barely breathe. I can hardly be bothered trying. In only a few moments, the men will be upon me and I will die out here in the forest, too far from anyone who can help.
But minutes pass and no one appears above me as I lie on my back, gasping.
I manage to sit up slightly and realize . . . I am alone.
Only Behemoth is with me. The men are gone.
Quickly, I get to my feet. It is possible they are only waiting out of sight, perhaps behind a tree.
I must keep going.
I stumble forward, on the verge of falling again, but I keep going. I keep going until I am back within sight of Mahalalel's settlement. Nervously, I look behind me.
Now I can yell if I want to and at least there is the hope that it will be heard. In fact, I can see Kenaz's eldest son at the edge of the forest, practising with his bow and a few arrows.
I must be thoroughly dishevelled and I do not want to arrive back home and announce that I blatantly disobeyed Jared's instructions.
I slow down only slightly, enough to try to fix my hair and get my breath back.
Kenaz's son spots me and I try to call out good-naturedly, “Careful! I am not a deer!”
He smiles and waves his acknowledgement but mercifully shows no interest in my sudden appearance. He is entirely interested in his own skills and turns to shoot in another direction.
Though there are always people milling about, I do not attract attention. I am probably flushed, but I hope that it is just attributed to a romp with Behemoth who everyone knows is a lively rascal.
He barks and trots along beside me, cheerful from our adventure.
My shaky legs take me into the house and though I hear Chaya and her mother's voices coming from the courtyard, I go straight up to my room and collapse on my bed.
Behemoth licked away my tears, but he cannot do anything about the heaviness in my heart.
Though I thank Yah fervently for delivering me – I hope he can hear whispers in a bedroom – it occurs to me that the men turned around to finish what they had started. If that person on the ground had any life in him or her when I encountered the men in the forest, I do not believe he or she has now.
I go down to the main room at dinner time to join Chaya and her parents.
I do not know what to say. It seems dishonest to hide my experience from them. But as it turns out, I do not have to endure a meal of trying to act natural.
Mahalalel asks the blessing on the meal of bread and herbs in oil. Chaya and her mother are so busy preparing food for the upcoming wedding that our daily meals have been simple fare. I have no appetite, but I force myself to reach for the bread like everyone else, when suddenly, Kenaz practically falls in through the door.
Like me earlier, he is out of breath. But unlike me, it is not with terror. It is more an excitement. He and Jared encountered three men in the woods near the star map, two of whom had knives.
I hang my head. I know why the third one did not have a knife.
At the sight of Jared and Kenaz, and particularly, at the sight of Kenaz's bow and arrow, the men fled into the woods.
Suspicious, Jared and Kenaz had followed their trail and discovered a body in the woods. The man they had found was barely alive. He was losing blood, but Kenaz had torn off his own shirt and stopped the flow. He and Jared had carried the man the long journey to Mahalalel's settlement, deciding that the man would be better off here than back alone at Jared's house.
“But why?” Chaya bursts out. “Why would someone do such a thing?”
While my head has been hung in shame, Chaya and her mother have been listening in horror.
“These are becoming violent times,” says Kenaz, reaching for some bread. “It is not unusual, particularly in the other settlements. The man was a trader and had valuables to sell. He managed to tell us he had shells from the sea, extremely beautiful apparently. The men who accosted him probably lured him beyond the river with the promise of a nearby settlement to sell them too. In any case, he has lost his shells now. He told us he would have been dead if someone had not come along with a barking animal that scared away the men.”
Perhaps to a man lying on the ground, with multiple stabs from a knife, that is what it would seem like. My eyes are still on my lap. Still, it sounds as if some good came from my appearance at that particular moment.
“Where is the man now?” demands Dinah.
“In my home,” says Kenaz, pouring himself some water from the pitcher. “My wife will look after him. He is sleeping presently.”
Jared joins us, announcing that he has alerted all of the settlement to be on the lookout for the three men. They were not known to him or Kenaz so it is doubtful that they are of the sons of Seth.
The meal is sombre.
Chaya and her mother fret about not being able to travel freely among the settlements without fear of being attacked. Right after the meal, they hurry over to Kenaz's home to see what they can do to help care for the man. I am left mercifully alone with the excuse that I must clear away the remains of the meal.
I do not want to see the man. Not only do I fear that he might recognize me, even more, I am sick about the whole thing and want no further reminders of it.
Although I am in the courtyard, I can still here snippets of the conversation between Mahalalel and his two oldest sons. These incidents of violence are becoming more frequent, although I gather that any stories they have heard have been kept from their women. Jared says, for the most part, they are robberies and the traders have more to worry about than the settlers. Kenaz says the settlers should still start to think of security. Perhaps settlements should have walls. Mahalalel wonders what it will all lead to.
In the courtyard, with Behemoth now snoozing in a corner while I put away some plates, I wonder what Hawwa will think when she hears of this. We are all her children. It will break her heart that some of her children are willing to shed the blood of others just for some objects from the sea.
fter three days of sleep, the trader is well enough to be carefully conveyed by Jared and Kenaz to the river and a passing boat of his own kinsmen, who promise to return him to his home settlement by the sea.
The sea is an unknown for most sons of Seth, although it is well known that one side of the Garden of Eden was by the sea. I have persuaded Mahalalel to let me help him in his garden on the days Jared does not come and get me. He tells me that Father Adam used to watch the dolphins swim at night and marvel at the size of the whales. Of course, without seeing these creatures for myself, they are hard to imagine.
The incident in the forest is almost forgotten by the day of my wedding.
Guests start arriving the day before and all the homes in Mahalalel's settlement fill up with uncles and aunts and cousins. There are so many people that many of the cousins choose to sleep outside on reed mats rather than take up space in the houses.
When Sofer and his sons arrive, they greet everyone and then go directly to the star map to sleep under the stars.
With this many people present, I feel safe. The story of the trader in the forest circulates, albeit in hushed tones. There is even talk that perhaps the settlements should be moved closer together, for safety.
But Enosh and Sofer quickly dismiss this.
“What will become of the star maps if we abandon the settlements?” says Enosh, Seth's eldest son. And so there is no more talk about the increasing violence.
The oldest man present will perform the wedding ceremony. Naturally, this would have fallen to Father Adam had he been here, but he and Hawwa just sent all their love. There is no reason to feel rejected. They are so busy with those in need among their own household that they rarely attend any weddings. Their life would be one endless ceremony if they went to every celebration of their children.
So it is Seth who will marry me and Jared.
It is a short ceremony, consisting mainly of an oath that we will live as husband and wife and a reminder that we are participating in a union that represents the oneness of Yah. But the celebration are just beginning.
Jared is assisting the other men in creating the largest fire I have ever seen. When it is done, it rivals the sun itself. But as I stand, surrounded by women and well-wishers - some eating, some talking, some just watching – I wonder if Yah will ever return. If the children of Adam are becoming brutal toward one another, why should he appear in our midst? And now it has come to the settlements of Seth.
When the fire is the size of one of the smaller pyramids, the dancing begins.
It starts with singing. There are no harps or flute players such as my half-brother Jubal once trained, but the voices in the light of the fire with the darkness behind are enough. The song is one of praise, rejoicing in Yah and his creation, calling on Yah to walk among his children once again. Soon there are children of Seth dancing. They are moving to the music, their dancing reflecting the song as it alternates between rejoicing and longing. Like the son of Hey said, no one seems aware of those around him, only of their own desire for Yah.
At first, I hesitate. But then the dance calls me in. Jared is already dancing somewhere. There is no one watching me, looking to see if I join in. There are people on the outskirts, some who even seem indifferent, but near the fire are the people who are at this moment only thinking of Yah.
And then I find myself caught up in the music and the longing in my own heart. I have come from the city of Cain to find Yah the Elohim that Cain left behind. And the yearning I have to know Yah is so great I am nearly sick by it. I am overwhelmed by the desire for someone I have never met, never even seen.
The journey in the woods that I took that day to plant mint in my future garden was foolish. But had I been on the same journey to meet Yah instead, even had I been waylaid and murdered on the way, it would have been but a small sacrifice to chance a meeting with our Elohim. Because in that moment, life without Yah is unbearable.
I dance as I weep.
There is no Yah, there is only the dance.
And there are the stars, so close and so bright that I start to feel as if I am dancing with them. Slowly my sorrow is replaced by awe.
I feel it. The universe is whole! I feel it!
I do not know if they are my own words or the words of the singers. It does not matter. I feel it. If I cannot have Yah at this moment, I can have his universe, able to reach out and hold it in my hand.
Time has no meaning.
At some point, I must collapse because when I wake up, I am in my own bed in Mahalalel's house. Like every morning, the sun is shining through my window. The only difference is, Jared is sharing my bed with me. Behemoth is faithfully sleeping on the floor on my side of the bed.
Jared is sound asleep. I step over the snoring Behemoth to slip on a robe and see what is going on in the rest of the house.
Many of the guests are still here, some sleeping, some in the courtyard helping themselves to piles of bread, date paste and mint tea. Some recognize me and smile and I return the well-wishes. I take some food and return upstairs with it.
Opening the door wakes up Jared and he greets me with a sleepy grin.
“I hope you do not mind one more day here,” he says, accepting the mint tea with gratitude as I join him on the bed. “So many people have come so far, I thought we should stay here and return to our home tonight.”
I nod my agreement.
Behemoth decides he can do better than bread and date paste and I open the door for him to go downstairs and beg for a different breakfast.
When he is gone and I am back in the bed, Jared puts his tea aside to take me into his arms.
“The little rascal would not let me touch you last night,” he says, grinning. “He kept growling at me.”
“He is protective,” I say. “Though I doubt he could do you much harm.”
“Have you seen his teeth?” Jared asks me. “What are you going to do with him when he is as tall as a pyramid?”
I remember the men with the knives and think that I will not mind having such a tame beast by my side.
“If no one downstairs gives him anything to his liking, he will be right back up here again,” I say.
This inspires Jared to take quick action.
Jared's lovemaking is hurried but tender. When Behemoth returns, he is suspicious. He comes into the room and looks Jared over as if suspecting that something might have transpired in his absence. I laugh and toss him what is left of my bread.
Then we dress and go downstairs to visit with our guests before they return to their settlements. By the time late afternoon comes, most of them are gone.
Kenaz insists that he and his bow and arrow will accompany us back to Jared's settlement. But Jared laughs and shows him Tubal-Cain's knife that I have just given to him.
“Surely this will protect us from anyone intending to do harm,” he says.
Kenaz admires the fine craftsmanship of the knife and agrees that, if necessary, it would be a lethal weapon.
Jared returns the knife to its sheath and with most of our belongings now at Jared's house, we set out through the forest with Behemoth trotting along behind.
This walk will take me right past the small clearing where I saw the men assaulting the trader, but with Jared accompanying me, I refuse to allow my mind to relive that day. It is best forgotten.
Behemoth, however, feels differently. When we come to the spot where the man was on the ground, he dashes off and circles the area, sniffing the soil.
Jared tells me this is the spot where he and Kenaz found the trader.
“He must smell blood,” says Jared about Behemoth.
I nod again and take his hand.
And soon we are home.
It feels too late and I feel too tired to think about making an evening meal. But Jared seems content with more lovemaking and even promises he will make the morning meal. As we drift off to sleep, I murmur that we must get some of those beans cultivated by the sons of Hey down the river. Then we will never have to worry about being sleepy.
We will not be left to ourselves for the next few years, I quickly realize.
The very next morning, some of the sons of Seth show up at our door, ready to work on the star map. They come loaded with provisions because they will be staying for long periods of time. True to his word, Jared takes care of the first meal of our married life, although it is not an intimate meal for two, but more for twenty.
Some of the men will sleep in our house, but again, others prefer the outdoors. Still, I will not have a house to myself until the star map is complete and even then, everyone assures me that by then I should have a household of children to keep me company.
Perhaps it is the story of the trader in the woods that makes everyone eager to comfort me that I will not be alone. And they do not even know how close I came to a knife in my back that day myself!
For the first few months, the garden takes all of my time. Mahalalel, curious to see how the star map is coming along, also comes with presents for my garden. His greatest gift is some wild blueberry plants. Kenaz also brings edible plants from the forest for my garden. I think they both know how many people I have to feed everyday. Although people come with their own supplies and more are sailed down the river for the workmen, there are still days when everything seems to be running low and we have to rely on my garden or mushrooms from the forest. When I am not in my garden, I am in my courtyard with Tubal-Cain's stove, baking bread and everything else that has been taught to me since I left Enoch.
But after a while it is obvious I will be even busier soon. Jared and I are expecting a child.
Chaya and her mother come to be with me in my final days of pregnancy. Although Chaya is now engaged to be married to one of our cousins, she insists on staying with me right up until I give birth to my first son.
“We will call him Enoch,” says Jared, holding his son with obvious pride and affection. “Perhaps he will find a way to connect the sons of Cain with the sons of Seth.”
I am honoured that he should pay tribute to the city of my childhood and to the family that raised me. I long to somehow pass the message on to Tubal-Cain, Naamah and our mother, Zillah, that I am now married with a son. I still think about them and wonder how Naamah's marriage to Semjaza affected the family of Lamech.
Our second son comes within a year and I name him Rasujal, after the father I never knew. As they grow, the two boys play and I cannot help myself from thinking that this must have been how Hawwa felt watching her two sons together. Who could have ever imagined that one would turn against the other in jealous anger?
And yet, nowadays, it is not so unbelievable. Though the star map continues to occupy our time and attention, the reports of violence among the children of Adam are alarmingly more frequent. Little do I realize that, in time, there will be even more disturbing rumours.
n time, Enoch and Rasujal are joined by a sister. I want to name her Chaya after her beloved aunt, but Jared says that will be confusing and says he prefers Tikvah. It means hope. And hope is what we need in these troubling times.
The traders now move down the river well-armed with bows and arrows and do not venture into the settlements without anything ranging from a dagger to a machete. Even casual travellers carry small knives.
The star map is more than half-finished. Many of the smaller pyramids are complete and much time is being spent on the larger ones. Chaya, now married with two daughters, tells me that Mahalalel's star map was only completed shortly before I arrived.
We see much less of each other now that we are living in different settlements. Although Jared's settlement is so young with only the two of us and our three children, it is an active one with the sons of Seth coming and going as they rotate work on the star map.
The unsettling trend that causes us to name our daughter “hope,” is that the further people have moved away from Father Adam, the more unrestrained the area has become. Ironically, although it was at the site of Father Adam's home that the first murder occurred, now it is the settlements farthest away where murder has become almost routine.
And it is not just murder.
Among our cousins, I hear reports of angry husbands who turn on their own wives. It is alarming when even the sons of Seth seem affected by these times of brutality. For if the sons of Seth are willing to strike their own wives, I wonder what is going on among the other sons of Adam? Perhaps it is not just wives, but children as well. Perhaps a time will come when no one is safe, even in his or her home.
Despite this, I become pregnant again and cannot help but rejoice at the thought of another baby to hold. My little ones are not so little now. Enoch is fourteen and spends most of his time at the star map, already as strong as some of the men. Many have commented that he seems especially favoured with strength. But when I talk to him, he says it is only because he is eager to see the star map completed.
“You do not have to worry,” I say, laughing, as I work in the garden. I have added raspberries and strawberries, as well as some peanut plants. “You have many years before Hawwa takes you aside and instructs you that it is time to choose a wife.” Hawwa, Mother of All Living, still visits her children and is the only one to travel unarmed.
Enoch shakes his head.
“It is not that,” he says. “It is Yah. I have seen him.”
I almost drop my hoe.
“What is that you said?” I give him my full attention.
“He is with us. That is, I think he is with me. I have seen him at the edge of the forest, watching.”
“Has anyone else seen him?”
Enoch shakes his hand.
“No. At least, no one has said anything. But I do not think they have. When I see him, he is only looking at me.”
I feel weak. I have almost forgotten what it is like to long for Yah. But now it comes back to me and it arrives with such a feeling of desperation that I almost cannot stay standing. I have let go of my longing, I realize, because of disappointment. A hope deferred makes the heart sick. And now my son talks this way . . .
I am not sure that I will be able to live with any more disappointment.
But my son does not notice my reaction. So often he is in his own world anyway, and off he goes now, to the house for some mint tea and afterward, some playtime with Behemoth.
Behemoth is now taller than our home. Indeed, we had to cut a path out of the forest for him so he could move freely between our settlement and the star map where there is more room for him to roam. My carefree (or some may say, careless) second son, Rasujal, often rides him back and forth between the two, much to his father's delight and much to my terror. Behemoth loves all my children, but high on his back like that, I fear a dreadful fall. At least I do not fear roaming bandits. Very few of them would be prepared to take on Behemoth, even though his bark is still worse than his bite.
I return to the house with a basket of greens, deep in thought.
Yah. Yah at the edge of our forest?
It has been awhile since I went out to see the progress of the star map. Perhaps I will go today. I will certainly not have the time when my next child is born.
Absentmindedly, I make lunch for the few people who are in my home. Most people have taken their midday meal with them to the star map.
After lunch, I gather up Tikvah and a large blanket for her to have an afternoon nap on. She can sleep in the shade of one of the finished pyramids and I can rely on Behemoth to guard her with his life.
The short walk is enough time for anticipation to build. What if Yah really is watching this new star map be built?
Jared greets me with an embrace and Tikvah is immediately scooped up to the shoulders of her uncle, Kenaz.
“I would like to walk around the map,” I say.
“Of course, my love,” says Jared. “But avoid the north end.”
I nod. The north end is active with stone masons and other workers assembling the base of one of the larger pyramids. These are the ones that require the rectangular blocks that can be up to one hundred tons and you do not want to get in their way.
I stroll along the edge of the forest. To everyone else, I probably look as if I am taking a casual walk. But my heart is beating and my eyes are scanning everything. Everything except the star map. For it is in the woods that my son said he saw Yah.
I see Enoch. He is busy with some of our cousins working on a smaller pyramid. It is nearly completed and they are letting the rascal climb to the very top where the capstone will soon be placed.
He notices me from up there and waves.
I smile and wave back.
Then he nods his head toward a certain patch of forest. He knows why I am here. I smile and nod.
But my walk is a letdown. As always, there is no Yah. I even venture into the forest until I am almost out of sight of the star map, but all I find are some mushrooms that will make an excellent stew for dinner.
I nearly weep with frustration.
How can Father Adam, who once walked with Yah in the Garden, stand such a loss? I can barely stand the loss of something I have never even known.
I return to Jared with an armful of mushrooms and find Tikvah sleeping on her blanket underneath the table where the star map on animal skins is spread out. Jared promises to bring her home with him when he returns for the evening meal.
And I head back down the path that will take me home.
A warm breeze caresses my cheek as I walk through the silent forest. For a moment, I do not notice and then I realize what an unusual thing it is. It is the warmth from the sun that I feel, yet I am entirely shaded by trees.
I turn and quickly survey the whole forest. Is it Yah? It must be! But then the warmth is gone and I am left with only the memory.
Laden down with mushrooms, I continue on to the house and spend the remainder of the afternoon gathering more vegetables and preparing the stew for the evening meal.
Our fourth child, another son, is named Pyramides, because on the day he is born, the capstone is put on the largest of all the pyramids in our star map. Chaya is by my side throughout my labour, though pregnant herself with her fifth child.
Jared was torn between participating in the completion of the pyramid and being home to be the first to hear the news of our child. Chaya shooed him off to the star map with the assurance that as soon as the baby was born, Rasujal could gallop on Behemoth with the news.
And so I re-enter that season of life where all one's energies are taken up with a new life to care for. But even as I am holding Pyramides while he drinks, admiring his curly light hair and enjoying the way his small hand curls around my finger, I am thinking of Yah. At every birth, there is always someone – a jovial uncle or an exuberant cousin - who says that each new life is a miracle.
But if it truly is a miracle, why is Yah not present?
I am left with the feeling that he has made us and now keeps his distance.
My only hope is that Enoch says that he still sees him, and not always near the star map, but in the forest and once even down by the river.
“And how do you know it is Yah?” I ask him.
“It is the way he looks at me,” is all Enoch says. When I ask him what he looks like, his physical characteristics, Enoch seems incapable of providing a description and I do not want to force the issue.
Part of me knows why Yah does not walk with his children anymore. I see the reason in my own children. Though Enoch is aloof from the everyday stresses of life, Rasujal and Tikvah are so quick to turn on each other over the slightest grievance. They live with the desire to have their own way at all cost and it is only Jared stepping in and sternly rebuking them that brings it to an end. Although I loathe admitting it, even I grow weary of their continual arguing.
It is to Jared's credit that he continues to patiently supervise the construction of the star map. Disputes break out on the site and once it was only Kenaz's bow and arrow that kept two brothers from attempting fratricide.
It leaves me with a spirit of heaviness and some mornings it is hard to get out of bed. How can Yah move among us if we are continually choosing the evil of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, rather than the good?
The Tree of Life remains forever guarded by a flaming sword and cherubim stand guard at the east of the Garden, though these are things I have only heard of and never seen. It is Father Adam who told his sons about the flaming sword. No eye but Father Adam's has seen that.
“Baraka!” I turn from the courtyard stove at the sound of my husband's voice. It is unusual to have him home during the day. He takes his midday meal at the site of the star map with the other workers.
“All praise to Yah that you are safe!” He gives me a quick embrace. “Where are the children?”
I am startled.
“Pyramides is sleeping,” I say. He is a healthy two years old now. “Enoch is with you, is he not?” Jared nods.
“But the others?” he says, almost sounding impatient.
“Rasujal is in the forest picking berries . . . ”
“We must find him, quick!” And Jared is off before I can point out that Tikvah is in the corner of the courtyard, making a batch of dough for the sweet honey cakes she loves so much.
My legs feel weak and I am torn between staying in the house with my two children and dashing off after my husband.
As it turns out, Jared does not have to go far to find Rasujal. He is already approaching the house with his basket of wild blackberries. Although he is almost the size of a man, Jared practically grabs him off his feet and pushes him into the house. He calls out an order to me to shut and barricade the door before running off back in the direction of the star map.
There are only two other people in the house with me. They are young men, second cousins, who have been sent by their families with more food supplies to feed the workers.
Quickly, they push the table and the chairs up against the door while I run around closing shutters. What on earth is going on? I feel sick. I am not sure whether it is sick at not knowing what is happening or whether it is sick with fear. In any case, it does not matter. My small family, along with our cousins, take refuge in the courtyard.
In the distance, we hear shouts. They are not friendly shouts and I have no idea what to make of them. Behemoth, too big to be in the house anymore, is somewhere out there and I hear him barking. It is a bark I have never heard come from him. It is almost a roar, but it is unmistakably Behemoth.
Only Pyramides does not seem concerned.
He is still sleeping, now in my arms. He is getting heavier and I am forced to sit down on the ground with him rather than continue standing like the others. Enoch is somewhere out there with his father. Rasujal's eyes glitter with excitement. He mutters something about wanting to know what is going on and I get a sense that he would even like to be a part of it. The two young men, who were intending to return to their settlement right after the midday meal, are quietly conferring with one another. I appreciate their demeanour, which is not adding to the tension. I have enough panic in my heart without anyone outwardly showing fear.
It is a long hour before any news comes to the house. With the door barricaded, I would not have known who to admit to the house, except that in the open-air courtyard, my first sight of a person is my son Enoch, riding on Behemoth's tall shoulders.
With a cry, I quickly run through the inner rooms to the door, the cousins right behind me. While Tikvah watches and Rasujal helps, the two cousins pull away the table and chairs and soon the house is filled with our battle-worn men.
At first, there is no talk. Only trying to overcome shock to help with the present needs. Jared has a cut on his arm, but brushes me away when I try to stem the blood. There are others who need attention, he says.
Quickly, I tear bolts of cloth to wrap around bleeding hands and arms and legs.
The story of what happened comes out in bits and pieces. I pick it up as the men talk and recount what they just experienced.
They were attacked by marauders. The reason for the attack was unclear although some of the workmen heard the gang refer to valuables on the site. It is possible that the rumour has gone out that the sons of Seth use precious stones or metals in the construction of their pyramids. In any case, the attack was savage and sudden. But the workmen retaliated and fought back with their tools. Behemoth joined the fray and gave the attackers second thoughts about their whole undertaking. But it still took some time to drive the attackers off.
“I am sure Kenaz also gave them something to think about,” I murmur. I look around. Where is Kenaz?
A sick feeling reaches down to my very kidneys.
“Where is Kenaz?” I manage to say out loud.
“He left immediately after the fray,” says Jared, now paying attention to his own wound. I provide some strips of cloth and he lets me wrap them around his arm. “He wanted to warn the others. And defend them if necessary.”
Mahahalel's settlement might be in danger. We are better armed here with our tools. They may not be as well prepared.
“It is clear that we are going to have to build walled settlements,” says one of the men, now bandaged and sipping the wine I have provided for the injured.
There are many murmurs of agreement.
“It has already been done in the settlement of Dalath,” calls out another.
I think of Roeh and his mother. What about the wide-open spaces for Roeh's sheep? Do they live in fear behind walls now?
“We cannot put a wall around the star map,” Jared points out.
No one comments on this. I know why. When they are done helping Jared, they will return to their busy settlements while Jared and I will be left here with our one home and our children. Our settlement will not grow until our children start having children. And we will be very vulnerable.
I push these thoughts away.
There is enough to think about right now.
After much discussion, it is agreed that the work on the star map will continue.
But at the same time, we lose about half the workers. The idea of building walls around the settlements is moving from talk to action. But many men will be needed to accomplish the task as there are many settlements among the sons of Seth.
So the work on the star map slows down and even Kenaz stays home most days, training the sons of his brothers with bows and arrows, to defend their homes if necessary. Meanwhile, our home remains solitary and open to attack.
The workers that stay now sleep in the house or in the courtyard. I step over their sleeping forms each morning as I make my way to the stove and start a fire for mint tea.
But violence does not return to our house.
Instead, we hear disturbing stories of unrest among the other sons of Adam. Among the children of Hey, in Havilah, the violence is the worst. The golden metal that so enchanted Qayin and Tubal-Cain is found in the land of Havilah. There is also onyx, now considered something to die for. Cursed is the man who has large quantities of either, for sooner or later, someone else will attempt to acquire it. Only the myrrh from Havilah still seems to be moved freely among the children of Adam. There are two types of traders now. Those who handle goods that people do not kill for. And those who do. The ones that carry precious stones move in packs, like wolves, and are as menacing as the men who would attack them.
It is not just in Havilah.
Along the Gihon, skirmishes occur regularly.
Kenaz informs us that when it comes to defending a settlement, it is no longer enough to just be handy with a bow and arrow. There are other, more sophisticated, ways of fighting now.
This new world is increasing the demand for the skills of the hunter. Kenaz no longer trades his animal skins with the sons of Sofer, but sells them to the traders. The traders have a thriving new business. They make frames and cover them with animal skins, selling them as shields. These new shields will protect a man from the knives and short swords that people regularly carry. But Kenaz says it goes beyond personal protection. The sons of Hey organize themselves into line formations. They carry shields in one hand and short swords in the other. When they move forward as one, they are formidable and well able to defend their settlements from menace. Even arrows cannot penetrate the new shields, provided a man is quick enough to cover himself.
And yet, throughout it all, the news from Enoch is scant.
I desire to know whether the family of Lamech is thriving. Has Naamah had children? Has the strength of Semjaza and his brothers benefited the city of Enoch, or has it brought them unhappiness? My mind runs over the various possibilities.
The reality turns out to be stranger than any of my imaginings.
ubal-Cain must be a wealthy man by now.
The knives made by him and his craftsmen are now carried by most of the sons of Adam. Perhaps it is a good thing that Tubal-Cain is allied to Semjaza and his brothers by marriage. If the violence that covers the rest of the earth has affected Enoch, then he will need the protection of these men that tower above the sons of Cain.
Jared does not let me go near the river when the traders are docked, so I cannot inquire about the inhabitants of Enoch.
But my own Enoch keeps me distracted enough.
He casually announces to me one morning that he has not only seen Yah but he has talked to him as well.
The star map is not the bustling site it used to be. Whereas in the past, there were several crews working on different pyramids, now there is only one crew and so only one pyramid gets built at a time. Therefore, most of the huge site is usually without people.
Today, when Enoch was passing by one of the completed pyramids, he saw Yah standing there.
There was no need for introductions.
Whereas my first instinct would have been to fall to the ground on my face and weep with relief at the presence of Yah, my precocious son, now used to Yah's various appearances, asked him what the name of the star was that this pyramid represented.
Yah laughed and said that this pyramid, in fact, represented a whole galaxy, though with our eyes, it would seem like another star.
From there, they had walked and talked right back to the house.
Enoch has been sent by Jared to bring back some more bread for the midday meal since some of the sons of Avanim from the stone quarry have shown up with a new load and need to be shown proper hospitality.
I desperately want to know what Yah and Enoch discussed. My whole being would cherish the words of Yah. But my son does not share it with me. Quiet like his father, he is thoughtful and not quick to put forth his opinion. So I despair of ever knowing what he and Yah spoke about.
“Where is he now?” I ask. Enoch is loaded down with a large basketful of bread and some bean dip, as well as another jar of oil.
“He kept moving, toward the river,” says Enoch, as I hold the door open for him.
I return to the table in the courtyard where I am making the dough for a potato pie. Yah in our very settlement! My heart should rejoice but it is breaking because I was not there to see it. As unsettling as it is to hear the reports of violence in the other parts of the land, it is more wretched to my spirit to know that Yah is here and is not talking to me.
I continue to knead the dough, my mind entirely on what my son has just told me.
Am I jealous of my son?
I am glad for him. But I still ache for Yah.
I have come out of the Land of Wandering and returned to the presence of Yah. But where is he?
Then a thought enters my mind. It is really more of a conviction.
Yah is present. Yah is talking to Enoch and he is my son.
I am connected to Enoch and Enoch is connected to Yah.
Just seeing it with that perspective helps. But only slightly.
We remain mercifully untouched by the violence that is affecting the other settlements. Only the sons of Seth are not fighting among themselves, though that does not mean that outbursts of anger do not occur. When Chaya comes to visit, she tells me that her brothers and their children are not at peace with one another.
“But at least we have not declared war on each other,” she says, smiling.
I smile absently.
She is visiting on a day when nearly a hundred sons of Avanim have shown up with some of the larger base stones needed for one of the final pyramids. The heavier stones require all hands. I am expected to have a meal for them all out at the star map. The bread is prepared. I am also roasting potatoes in the oven. They are what I am concentrating on now, checking on them to make sure they have not overcooked. When they come out, I will marinade them in oil and spices.
“Here, let me do that,” says Chaya, as I return to a large table where I have to wash and chop some spinach to add to the potatoes. She rolls up her sleeves to run the sandy leaves under the running water.
I notice something.
“What is this?” I ask, looking at her arm. There is a patch of blue markings on one of them. I gently touch it.
She shakes away my hand.
“It is nothing,” she says. “An affliction that affects us all.”
“What do you mean?” I say. I have only seen such markings once, after Rasujal fell out of a tree. His leg bruised and he was blessed not to have broken a bone.
“How did this happen?” I ask, knowing my sister is not in the habit of falling out of trees.
“It is nothing,” she repeats.
It takes me a minute to figure it out.
Her husband did this.
“Does Mahalalel know about this?” I demand.
“Of course not!” she says sharply.
I understand if she does not want to tell our father. He is getting older and perhaps she does not feel he can help.
“What about Kenaz?” I say. Our brother Kenaz could certainly put an end to this.
Chaya laughs. But it is a bitter laugh.
“You should see the markings on his wife's arms,” she says.
How can this be? For the moment, I have completely forgotten about the potatoes. Now I remember that I have a field of hungry men waiting.
I grab a heavy cotton cloth and pull out the two large pans of potatoes.
Though hot, I quickly chop them up and toss them into the bowl of oil. Chaya, meanwhile, has finished washing the spinach and is now shredding it and tossing it in with the potatoes. I add some onion that I had already chopped to the bowl and the potatoes are done.
I have so much food to bring down to the field that I have to load it all on a cart. If I wanted, I could harness up one of the small horses that Enoch has befriended and use it to haul the cart along the path, but I am in too much of a hurry to catch one.
We start off for the star map with me pulling the cart. Tikvah trails along behind, picking wildflowers. She is a grown woman now, though she still enjoys some of the activities of her childhood. She is far enough behind that I pursue the topic with Chaya.
“But surely there is some kind of protection . . . ?”
“What would you know about it?” she mutters. It is the first time I have experienced hostility from my sister.
“I am married,” I say.
“You are married to Jared,” she says. “Has he ever struck you?”
“Of course not,” I say.
“Of course not,” she repeats, sounding slightly mocking. “I have talked to the cousins,” she continues. “It is all the same. The wife of Enosh, the wife of Cainan, my own mother, they know nothing of these things.”
I try to take this in.
“Be sure of this, sister,” says Chaya. “Rasujal will strike his wife. Enoch will not.”
Is there truth to this?
It is true that Enoch has a different personality than his younger brother, but I did not attribute this to anything except sibling variety. Rasujal is certainly disrespectful at times, but he is not the type to strike out at someone. Is he?
“But it was Cain who struck his younger brother, Abel,” I protest.
“Among the sons of Cain, perhaps things are different,” she says. “Among the sons of Seth, this is the way it is.”
What more can we say? We walk to the star map in silence.
The food is received with gratitude, but today I look at the men differently. How many of their wives live in fear? It is impossible to tell as they sit around in groups, talking and laughing. Then I look at Jared. What makes him different?
It is Yah, I decide. Each of the eldest sons of Seth has had to build a star map and so has become the guardian of a place of worship.
Despite that Chaya stays with me for two more days, the topic of the bruises on her arm does not come up again. Instead, we talk about our children. She has left her's back at Mahalalel's settlement. Dinah is delighted to be able to spend the extra time with her grandchildren, she tells me.
That is something I miss. Chaya's mother never really became my mother and I have lost Zillah. No doubt, Zillah has Naamah's children to rejoice over.
Chaya, who was once so full of life, now seems only to talk of death.
The traders bring news every time they dock. Another death. Another murder, or sometimes an accident. The patriarchs – Father Adam, Father Seth, and the other sons of Adam – command enough respect that no one threatens their lives, but among cousins, life is brutal.
All larger settlements are walled now. Even animals are being trained for war. Wild dogs have been domesticated to defend households.
And Behemoth is not the only tamed lizard. Other great dragons are being used to guard city gates, the most formidable ones being the kind that breath fire. Dragon trainers are in great demand.
“That is why you are safe here,” Chaya says over mint tea in the courtyard. “The marauders are afraid of Behemoth.”
I do not tell her that I think we are safe because of the presence of Yah. Recently, Enoch has had another conversation with Yah, this time in the forest. He was gone a whole day. Mercifully, I did not know he was missing. I assumed he was with Jared at the star map. Jared assumed he was home with me. I did not even attempt to find out what it was that they discussed. It is enough for me now that Yah is near.
“I am going to make a pilgrimage to visit Hawwa, Mother of All Living,” says Chaya. Her choice of words is unusual. Up until now, I have only heard the sons of Seth refer to a pilgrimage to the Great Pyramid.
“But why, sister?” I say. “She will come again to our settlements. She always does.”
Chaya shakes her head.
“I cannot discuss certain things when all the others are around. I need her blessing.”
At first I think that she is talking about the abuse that she and her cousins are enduring.
“The more sons a man has, the higher his esteem for his wife.”
I realize it is her intent to visit Hawwa to ask for a blessing of fertility.
“But, sister,” I protest. “It is me who should be asking for more children! Not you! After all, I have a settlement to people.”
“But Hawwa cannot give you more children,” I say. I have come a long way in both body and mind since my days in the city of Cain. No longer would I even entertain the possibility that any matriarch can bestow a blessing of fertility on her daughters.
“She is the Mother of All Living,” Chaya insists.
“But even she herself said that she had brought forth a man-child from Yah.”
“Then perhaps she can ask Yah to give me more children. If I do not have more children, I will die!”
I think of my son, possibly even at this moment, out in the forest with Yah. Should I pass the request onto Enoch to convey to Yah? It would save Chaya a journey over ever-increasingly dangerous land.
“Perhaps Yah is closer than you think,” I say. “Perhaps if you call out to him, he will come to you.”
“I do not want Yah to come to me,” says Chaya sharply. “I want more children!”
I am shocked.
“But surely Yah is better than ten children!” I say.
“Do not let Jared hear you say that,” is her reply.
But I think Jared would agree with me.
It is not safe to travel alone between the settlements, so Chaya returns to her own home with some of her brothers.
I watch them disappear into the forest and wish there was something I could do for her. There is only one thing I can think of. I mention to Enoch that his Aunt Chaya would like to have more children and that children are a gift from Yah. Perhaps he could mention this to Yah next time they converse.
Enoch's reply shocks me even more than Chaya's outburst.
“Yah is not pleased with the sons of Adam. Why should she bring more children into this violent world?”
And so Chaya prepares to make her journey. The family is divided over it. Mahalalel and Jared disapprove of such a pilgrimage, saying that Hawwa is not a substitute for Yah. I plead with her to wait until the star map is complete. Then there will be a dance to Yah and I assure her, it is quite possible it will not only be a dance for Yah, it might be a dance with Yah.
But Chaya's husband wants more children now, not later. And Chaya's mother is willing to watch her children while she is gone. So Chaya pays for passage on one of the trader's ships destined for the closest settlement to Father Adam. I half expect to never see her again.
But she returns six months later, not overly impressed with the whole situation at Hawwa's. She says they have too many animals and Father Adam is too quiet and Hawwa is too busy and they take in too many people and all in all, she is not hopeful that anything was accomplished by her journey.
Alas, she proves to be right and does not get pregnant again. Much to the shame of the sons of Seth, her husband pronounces her barren and says he is taking a second wife.
“It is not so bad,” I try to console her when her brother Kenaz brings her along on a day when he has come to work on the star map. “My mother, Zillah, was a second wife.”
“Oh! So now you are a daughter of Cain instead of a daughter of Seth?” she snaps at me.
I sigh. She is only speaking in angry. And it does not help the situation that I am pregnant again, approaching the end of my time of waiting.
I cannot convey her to her the sadness I feel with this pregnancy. A new life should be a time of joy and hope. But I cannot help but feel that Yah has abandoned his children because of their disobedience to him. Except for Enoch.
Though he is still young, Jared is already putting forth the idea that Enoch will need a wife. I know that Enoch will never seek one out so long as his days are spent with Yah and I point out to Jared that he was not a father until he was 162-years-old.
But Jared is eager that his son marries younger than he did. While I feel a reluctance to have another child because of the way the world has turned, Jared feels the opposite. As if more sons of Seth will be able to turn things around - to the way he remembers the world as a boy.
In the meantime though, we are distracted by a visit from Seth himself.
It has been many years since we had a visit from our patriarch, and indeed, this is the first time he has visited our settlement. We were not expecting him until the star map was complete.
He comes specifically to see me.
Jared and Enoch both sit with us as we talk on our large front porch. It is the first day in years that neither of them goes to the star map.
“Some of the traders have come to me with alarming stories,” he says. “They are scared.”
“Whatever do they have to be afraid of?” I ask. “They are alarming men themselves.”
“This is true,” says Seth. He is sipping some of our orange juice. We recently bought orange trees. “They are afraid of giants.”
“Giants?” says Jared.
“They came to me because of Sofer. Of course, they cannot actually talk to Sofer. The Great Pyramid is guarded as closely as the Garden. But the traders wanted to know if these men were safe to trade with.”
“Giants,” I say, softly.
“They call themselves Nephilim, Fallen Ones,” says Seth. “I remembered the name of the man you encountered in Enoch was Semjaza the Nephilim. Is it possible that these are the same people?”
“Quite possible,” I say. “A long time ago, when I left the city of Cain, I had a chance to see the brothers of Semjaza. They are alarming in their stature. But why is it that the traders come to you now? The Nephilim have been in the city of Cain for many years.”
“These are not traders who travel to the sons of Cain. They have encountered these giants in the perimeter settlements. They are alarmed,” says Seth. “When a man is so much larger than yourself, all you can rely on is his honour. But I was unable to give them any comfort. There are no Nephilim in our records of the children of Adam. If they are not sons of Cain, then they are not of this world. And not knowing who they are, I cannot tell the traders whether they are honourable men.”
I happen to glance at my son. Though my husband's eyes are full of concern, my son is calm. It would not surprise me in the least if he and Yah have not already talked about the Nephilim.
“We must pray these men choose to settle where they are,” says Seth, standing up. “If the traders are frightened of them, I can only imagine the panic that would spread over the earth if they chose to explore elsewhere.”
Continuing to discuss the matter, he, Jared and Enoch then drift toward the path that will take them to the star map.
My mind is spinning. I would so like to hear more news about Naamah and Tubal-Cain in Enoch. But it does not sound like the traders are going there these days.
he news only gets worse.
A boatload of men, very large men, has been seen lazily making its way down the river. They did not seem to intend harm, from the report of the eyewitness, but were just sightseeing.
But then I get the fright of my life.
I am out in the woods one day. Enoch is somewhere in these woods, ambling with Yah, oblivious to the world and its troubles. Or perhaps they are discussing its troubles, for all I know.
I need mushrooms.
This is not the first time I have been out by myself since giving birth to my child, a girl who we named Kalah. Kalah means, to be at an end, because the star map is almost finished. There will most certainly not be another child in the meantime. Tikvah is thrilled to have a baby sister and loves Kalah as if she is her own. I am able to leave Kalah with Tikvah whenever I need to go to the star map or to work in the garden.
“Good day, my lady.”
I almost drop my basket of mushrooms. It is a voice I have not heard in years. And one I never thought I would hear again.
But what is he doing here, in this quiet forest, far from the city of Cain?
I swallow fear.
I will not be afraid!
Yah is nearby. Yah protected me as I journeyed here.
“Semjaza,” I say, trying to speak with a tranquility that matches the forest around us. “What brings you here, among the sons of Seth?”
“I seek you, my lady.”
I do not like this idea. And he is still using that familiar, my lady.
“My understanding is that you are the husband of Naamah now,” I say. I casually crouch down and pick up some of the mushrooms I dropped and return them to my basket.
“I am,” he agrees.
I stand up straight.
“My sister, is she . . . well?”
“Your sister lives,” he says, coolly. “I seek another. That is all.”
“My sister has not born you children?” I ask.
“She is the mother of five of my sons,” he replies.
“Then you have no reason to seek another,” I say. I decide the mushrooms are not important and the first chance I get, I will return to the house. And barricade the door.
“You were always my first choice,” he says.
“Perhaps,” I say, trying to sound calm as I begin making my way back to the path. “But when I agreed to be your wife, I believed that I was a daughter of Cain. As I prepared for the wedding, I learnt I was a daughter of Seth.”
“Should that matter?” he asks, as he walks alongside me.
“It did to me.”
We walk in silence.
There are so many things I could ask. Does he know I am married to Jared? How did he find me? Why is he no longer satisfied with Naamah?
But I do not want to break the silence. I want to remain aloof.
Unfortunately, I am quite a distance from the house. Even if I were to shout out now, no one would hear me. And even if they did, who would come to my aid? Tikvah and Kalah? No, I decide. I must put my trust in Yah and in my position as the wife of Jared. But I still feel a terror from knowing I ran away from an engagement and did not disentangle myself with honour.
“The sons of men treat their wives with cruelty,” says Semjaza.
“Mine does not,” I say.
More silence for a stretch.
“You bring forth children in pain,” he says.
“True,” I say.
“I do not desire more children,” he says. “There are ways of avoiding conception.”
“I am married,” I say. “As are you.”
“I weary of Naamah,” he says.
“Then you will weary of me,” I say.
“I would never weary of you, my lady.”
I should not even hint that there is the slightest possibility that I will consider a marriage with him. I want to tell him that Jared is a good man and I will not leave him, but I also do not want to put Jared in a dangerous position. There are men who have been killed for their wives, sometimes even with their wife's complicity.
“My life is here,” I say, instead.
“Then I will make my life here,” he says, taking the basket of mushrooms from me. “Why should you be like a servant girl and make the soup when you can be the daughter of a god?”
“I am a daughter of Seth,” I say sharply. At the same time, his words are both disturbing and enlightening. Daughter of a god? That can only mean that Semjaza believes himself to be the son of a god. What god? Surely not Yah? Even as I walk along this familiar path, trying to think of a way of escaping Semjaza, I am thinking ahead to when I will be able to report this to our Father Seth.
“Your beauty makes you a daughter of god,” he says.
“This is no place for you then,” I say, deciding to speak bluntly. “This is a life of work and worship to Yah.”
It is as if a dark cloud passes in front of his face.
“Yah has left you,” he says. “I offer you something better.”
If I did not know that my son is at this very minute somewhere with Yah, I would be momentarily tempted. The world certainly feels abandoned by Yah. Though I know it is not true.
“My place is here,” I say.
“You are stubborn, Havilah,” he says, handing the basket back to me. We are still a distance from the house and I wonder what makes him suddenly terminate the conversation.
Then I see my son, Enoch, emerge from the trees onto the path. Semjaza is gone.
I look around, but I do not see him anywhere. He must have moved fast and stealthily, but it is still unnerving. He was here one moment and now he is not.
“Mother,” says Enoch, greeting me and kissing my cheek. “It is not safe to be out here alone.”
If he only knew how true those words were.
Part of me wants to keep Semjaza's visit a secret from Jared. But I realize this is only foolishness. I fear for Jared's safety but not telling him is not going to keep him any safer.
When we are alone in our bedroom, Jared listens. At first he is enraged. He cannot speak, but when he does, his first remark is to repeat what Enoch has said. It is not safe to be out alone.
He is as concerned about me as I am for him.
I resist the urge to tell him that Semjaza or no Semjaza, I have no desire to be a prisoner in my home, waiting for someone to accompany me whenever I need some ingredients for soup. I have no confidence in my own beauty and am certain Semjaza will move on when he realizes that I am not just going to run off with him. In fact, I am different than I was in the city of Cain. By the glass windows, I can see that I am more tired-looking. It is around my eyes mostly. And each child that I carried and bore has changed me. Yet Semjaza is as handsome as ever and shows no signs of wear or age.
Jared agrees with me that we need to discuss the matter with Father Seth, but says we can do so soon enough. By the next full moon, the star map will be complete and all the sons of Seth will be invited to celebrate.
“Then I will have to be out and about in order to prepare,” I say. “That means hundreds of people coming. I need to be in the forest harvesting everything edible and in the garden every day.”
“Rasujal will accompany you,” says Jared. He does not say it, but in his opinion, Rasujal is next-to-useless when it comes to construction. Although it is not the construction itself. It is Rasujal's inability to follow directions.
“I have Behemoth,” I say.
“Behemoth is too big for the forest,” Jared points out. “Rasujal will accompany you and if he does not, I will take a whip to him.”
It is the first time Jared has ever said such a thing, but I am not alarmed. In this case, it is his concern for my safety.
The next morning, Rasujal is sulky about his new assignment. Even if he does not enjoy working, he likes hanging around the site and talking to the men.
“The work there is almost done,” I say, to console him. “You must find something else to do anyhow.”
He still grumbles.
I do not know if it would cheer him up to learn that the reason he must accompany his mother is because he will have to protect me from a man who is a head taller than him and two heads taller than me.
But Semjaza does not appear today and Rasujal and I have a day in the forest, gathering what we will need for the upcoming festivities. The whole time, Rasujal complains.
“It would go by faster if you would work harder,” I point out to him.
His basket of olives is only half-full, while I already have two large baskets of dates and figs.
Over the next two weeks we, or rather, I, gather wild herbs and all other edible greens from the forest.
My nerves almost crack after days of listening to Rasujal grumble. But at the end of the last day, something happens to lift my spirits and make my heart soar with gratitude.
As I am sorting out the herbs on a table in the courtyard, Enoch comes in with a huge basket of blueberries and puts it down on the ground beside me.
“My son!” I say, in surprise. “Thank you for picking these!”
“Oh, they are not from me,” he says, as he turns and heads back out. “They are from Yah,” he calls out over his shoulder.
I stare down at the basket. I have never seen this basket before. It comes up to my waist and it is sturdier than any of the others I own.
I look at the blueberries in the basket. Though the berries in my garden are lovely, they are usually small. These are large, some of them even the size of grapes.
I taste one.
Sweeter than any I have gotten from my own bushes.
I sink to the ground beside the basket.
With Semjaza lurking around somewhere and a son who cares little for my needs, my whole body has felt weak these last few weeks.
But here is a gift from Yah. He most certainly knows how many people will be arriving here in the next few days.
I put my arm around the basket and just hold onto it. And I cry quietly.
Our settlement swells from one home and few workmen, to an encampment for nearly all of the sons of Seth. Though many do not even bother to visit the star maps closest to their own settlements, this new one is an excuse for a festival and a chance to get caught up on family news.
Our Father Enosh will lead the activities but Jared is needed right beside him. So I am left to look after the food, with some help from Tikvah. Kalah is passed around from doting relative to doting relative. She is the youngest one at this festival.
Chaya attends with all her children, her husband . . . and her husband's new wife, who is now expecting a child. It is awkward, but I am spared from it by having so much to do. The blueberries are a success, with many people commenting on how sweet and delicious they are. But my greatest hope is that Yah himself will show up tomorrow night at the dance of the star map.
Once again, it is like the old days. People campout under the stars. There are too many of us to worry about marauders. But the conversations still centre on the bandits who have menaced the other settlements and are now even permeating the settlements of Seth.
Seth himself stays in our home and confides in me that he hates the talk of his children.
“Perhaps if we talked more about Yah, he would move among us again.”
I have a chance to tell him about Semjaza in the forest and he is concerned.
“Stay strong, my daughter,” he says. “You did the right thing when you came to be among your own people. There is nothing dishonourable about your choice and Yah will bless you for having chosen to be among his people.”
I thank him for his words of encouragement.
“Father,” I say, hesitantly.
We are mostly alone in the house. A fire has been built outside our home and the majority of people are out there, talking and laughing.
I do not know how to say it. I do not think even Enoch has told anyone. But I think Father Seth should know.
“Enoch walks with Yah,” I blurt out.
Seth's eyes widen.
He is silent for a moment. Then there is joy on his face.
“Yah be praised!” he bursts out. “Yah be praised! He has not forgotten us!”
“But, Father . . . ” I take his hand. “Why does Yah not come to us all? Me or you, for example.”
Seth covers my hand with his.
“That might not be for us to know,” he says. “It is enough to know that he is still here.”
It is true what he says. Then I tell Seth about the blueberries.
Seth starts to laugh. That makes me start to laugh. And then we are both laughing so hard that we are weeping.
“Yah provides,” Seth says at last, wiping tears from his eyes.
After my talk with Seth, somehow I feel that Yah will not dance with us. I wake up in the morning with this new thought. It is not a disappointment as much as a conviction. Perhaps Yah will never move again among the sons of Seth, but we can be grateful that he still moves among some of them. Or even just one of them.
But my longing for Yah is just as intense as it ever was. Maybe even stronger.
Jared is not in bed beside me. Obviously, he has risen early to be at the star map in preparation for tonight. Kalah sleeps in a small bed near me. She is stirring so I take her downstairs with me and into the courtyard where I will begin a huge pot of mint tea for the early-risers.
Tikvah and I have prepared date and fig pastries in advance, so I place those out on the table as soon as the tea is boiling hot and ready.
Then I must start taking food out to the star map.
With so many people here now, Jared does not require that Rasujal accompany me everywhere. He is off with his cousins, some of the ones who Kenaz has trained with a bow and arrow. They are practising their skills in a less-populated part of the settlement. Even Tikvah is not much help today. Although she assisted me with all the food preparations, she is now also with her cousins, talking and laughing and discussing family news.
I sigh. But I cannot be hard on either of them. We are a new settlement and so they do not have the social opportunities that their cousins from the older ones have.
So I load up the cart myself. I have bread to feed a city, oil and herbs to dip it in, as well as dried fruit and honey pastries. Mercifully, Chaya's mother's sister appears as I am just about to set out and volunteers to take care of Kalah.
For this load, I really should harness a pony, but all the small horses are being ridden right now. There is even a pony race being started in one long clear stretch of the settlement. Once again, I will be pulling the load myself.
I set out, expecting to see cousins and aunts and uncles along the way. But the path is quiet. Those who were going to the star map early, such as Sofer and his sons, are already there. Everyone else seems to be planning on setting out later, closer to the night.
So I am alone in the forest.
But not for long.
Semjaza appears in front of me.
I do not know how he does it. One minute I am alone. And the next moment, he is right here. I take a deep breath and try to calm myself.
“He has you pulling carts now,” says Semjaza, walking alongside me.
I sigh. He does not have to say who he is referring to.
“My husband is too busy at the moment . . . ”
“Too busy to think of his wife,” says Semjaza, nodding. “It is a common affliction among the sons of Adam.”
With one hand, he takes the reins of the cart from me and starts pulling. He does it with effortless ease. I cannot pretend that I do not appreciate him removing that load from my shoulders, but at the same time, I do not like the feeling of gratitude that emerges inside of me as a result of the gesture. It is true. Jared does not always consider my needs. But he has had the star map to think of and he is a good man.
“We are busy,” I say. “The star map is complete . . . ”
“Has it ever occurred to the children of Seth that Yah is not interested in star maps?” asks Semjaza.
“It is the way we honour him,” I say. It is so much easier to walk without having to pull that cart.
“Perhaps he is not around to be honoured.”
I do not say anything. I will not tell him anything about Yah or how my family has been blessed by his presence.
I try a different approach.
“Semjaza,” I say. “Why do you stay here? The earth is full of women lovelier than me and who would be more than willing to be your wife.”
“Perhaps that is why I stay,” he says with a small smile.
A challenge. That is all I am to him. If I were to give in to him, I would no longer have his interest.
“And how is my sister, Naamah?” I ask him.
“Your sister, Naamah is dreary to live with.”
“You took her from the man she loved.”
Semjaza throws his head back and laughs.
“You do not mean that silly cousin of hers, do you? Qayin?”
“Naamah always loved Qayin,” I say. It seems safer to talk of these things.
Semjaza, still laughing, shakes his head.
“Naamah does not love Qayin. She loves me. I bought Qayin for her, as a slave.”
I stop walking.
“Qayin is a slave?”
Semjaza also stops walking and watches me with interest.
“He had debts. I bought him for her. I thought it would amuse her to be able to order him around.”
I do not know what to say. I never really liked Qayin, but now all I can think is, poor Qayin.
“If Naamah loves you, why do you not return to her?” I ask, starting to walk again.
“She is dull,” he says. “Not like you. She does not want a man to have his freedom. She wants to hold onto him with her claws.”
“Maybe she is just afraid of losing you,” I say.
“And you, Havilah,” he says. “What are you afraid of?”
It is a question no one has ever asked me. The sons of Seth expect their wives not to be afraid. And for the most part, I am able to calm my own fears with reason. But there is only one thing that fills me with terror. And that is the thought of losing Yah.
But I have never even seen Yah!
Again, how can I long for something I have never had? And yet, I do.
But I will most certainly not tell Semjaza this.
“What is it, Havilah?” he repeats. “What is it you most fear?” His voice is soothing. It invites me in, to share my fears and to feel protected.
I do not speak. I do not dare speak.
“The world is not safe, Havilah,” says Semjaza, still pulling the cart with apparent effortlessness.
“I do not care,” I say.
He smiles slightly.
“But it would be nice if your husband would care, would it not?”
That is a troubling thought. Jared chooses to ignore the violence. He has focused on the star map since the day we were married. Since before we were married. He has never once asked me how I feel about the world and whether I need to be more protected. We live in one of the few unwalled settlements and the only weapon we have, apart from Behemoth's formidable presence, is the knife I gave to him when we were married.
“This is a world for the strong,” says Semjaza. “The strong survive in a world like this. The weak need protection.”
He does not need to tell me that I am weak. The fact that I am alone in the forest, to be molested at the whim of anyone who happens to come along, is evidence enough.
And then I feel his arm around my waist. The other arm still pulls the cart.
My legs feel unable to support my body. He is sustaining me. And then his other arm drops the reins of the harness and I am swept closer to him.
We are face-to-face now.
“I am strong, Havilah,” he says. “Never forget that.”
Then he lets go of my waist. I almost drop.
And I am alone in the woods.
Had he violated me, I would not feel less terror than I do now. I am terrified by the desire I have to feel safe in Semjaza's arms, yet at the same time, I am sickened by the thought that if I give in to him, I will perhaps find myself in a place far more evil than even the Land of Wandering.
omehow the cart gets pulled to the star map. I do not know how. I have no strength left in my body after my encounter with Semjaza.
But Jared is too occupied to notice my weakened state. There are trees being felled for the giant bonfire. There is some kind of an argument going on over the location of the fire on the ground in relation to the sun.
I do not want to walk back through the forest alone. I ask Jared if Rasujal can be spared to accompany me back to the house. There is still work to be done there.
Thinking that it is just a matter of hauling back the cart, Jared says that he will bring the cart back himself and that every man is needed to prepare for tonight. Then he hurries away.
No doubt there is truth to what Semjaza has said. But, on the other hand, I do not have bruises on my arms like some of the other wives here.
Semjaza must have other ways to occupy himself because my walk back to the house is a solitary one.
Oh Naamah, my sister! How your heart must be breaking now!
As the evening approaches, I have offers of assistance from cousins to carry the remaining food to the star map. We will be at the map all night and one gets just as hungry as during the day.
So I do not walk the path alone again.
As the sun starts to go down, I am accompanied through the forest by a whole crowd of men, women and children. We bring fruit and vegetable pastries, orange juice for the children and wine for the adults.
I almost forget Semjaza as we arrive at the star map and gather around the fire.
I look around, realizing for the first time, the map is complete! What an undertaking it has been. The sons of Avanim and their wives are all honoured guests. Without their stone quarries, these maps would not be possible.
Enosh is the one to welcome everyone and proclaim that again, Yah has been honoured in the achievements of the sons of Seth. My son, Enoch, is called forward and a special blessing is requested of Yah so that the next map will bring honour to Yah too. To the best of my knowledge, no one here knows that Enoch walks with God and so they do not see what I see. Enoch is not participating in the prayer. He knows something.
But then Jared is called forward to raise his hands in supplication to Yah and to ask Yah to walk among us again as he did with Father Adam in the Garden. To have mercy on our sins and to keep us from the hands of violent men.
There are violent men standing here, I think.
Then the fire is lit.
In a short time, the blaze lights the whole map just as the sun lights our day.
At our wedding, not everyone joined in the dance. But this time, I see that even fewer people seem interested in the sacred aspect of this evening. While most people gather around the tables of food and talk on the edges of the darkness, it is the older people who dance to Yah. With Kalah being cared for by Tikvah and a cousin who is soon to be married, I join them.
My heavy heart tells me that Yah will not join us, though I cannot help but look on the outskirts of the forest for him. I try to forget that Semjaza is also in that forest.
Enoch dances to Yah and I cannot help but watch him before losing myself in the music. Enoch dances with a lightness and a grace. He is not seeking Yah, he has found him and now his whole being is dedicated to him. While the other men his age seem eager to talk to their female cousins, he is in a world of his own.
And soon I am also in a world of my own.
If I cannot have Yah, then at least I can have no one else. For the time I am moving to the music, I forget that I am the wife of Jared. I forget that there was every a man named Semjaza. I forget that I am the mother of Enoch, Rasujal, Tikvah, Pyramides and Kalah. There is only me. Touching the edges of the universe and maybe even catching a glimpse of the shadow of Yah.
With morning comes sleep. Many people fall asleep at the star map. I have certainly brought enough food that those who are still awake when morning comes can have a meal before their sleep. After that, they will have to return to the house.
It is Enoch who helps me carry some of the empty baskets back to the settlement. Kalah has long since been taken home by Tikvah. My other sons are still with their cousins.
Typically, Enoch is quiet. Like his father, he does not speak unless there is a reason to.
“Someday you will have your own star map,” I say to him. It is not an idle comment. I hope to learn what it is that he is hiding from the rest of us.
“There will be no more star maps, Mother.”
So that is it.
Yah must have told him. But why? Why will there be no more star maps? I do not ask. It is enough that Enoch knows, for the heavy burden of building the map would have fallen to him. But what will the sons of Enosh say when Enoch marries and does not carry on the tradition?
My mind is too sleepy to give it much thought.
Though Jared is not in our room when I return to the house, Kalah is in her little bed. I fall down on my bed and almost immediately join her in sleep.
ur settlement is still.
I have never experienced it this quiet.
There have always been a few workmen at the house and of course, many at the map. But the map is completed, the workmen are home and all our guests long-gone.
Even Jared seems at a loss as to what to do next.
He turns to our sons, who are now grown men.
It is a surprise to him that Enoch is not around very often. I think he assumed that Enoch was always here, helping me in some way.
So it is Rasujal who gets his attention. Jared tries to engage him in the task of maintaining the star map. There are always minor repairs to be made, grass to be cut, and it is the second and third sons who help their father. The first son will move away and start his own settlement someday.
But Rasujal is more interested in his new bow and arrow from his Uncle Kenaz and which of his cousins he will marry. He also wants to know when we will start building our wall.
“Our wall?” Jared repeats.
“Our wall of protection,” Rasujal says impatiently. We are just our family, seated along a large table, for breakfast. In past days, twenty, or more, other people could have been here with us.
“But we hardly have anything to protect,” Jared protests. “We are only one house!”
“There will be more houses in the future,” Rasujal insists. “And we should build our wall before the violence comes to us!”
Perhaps it is just to keep him busy, but Jared puts Rasujal in charge of the wall.
And soon Rasujal is teaching us all the art of mixing mortar to hold stones together. Some settlements have protected themselves with wooden fences, but we have many unused smaller stones leftover from the pyramids.
Only the gate is wooden and when our wall is completed, Jared insists that the gate always be left open. Rasujal is disgusted.
“What is the point of a secure wall if you leave the gate open?” he demands.
But Jared is adamant.
“We are guardians of the star map. Some people will come through here on their way to visit it. It should not be closed to them, no matter what time of day or night they arrive.”
No matter. Behemoth, though older now, sleeps within the walls. He can easily step over them if he needs to get out. He is truly a gentle giant.
But Rasujal has different plans.
He wants to breed lizards, smaller but more vicious than Behemoth. They will make terrifying guards and he can sell them to all the settlements around.
I do not like the idea, but Jared says that since he shows no inclination to do anything else, we might as well let him. And so, wooden cages are constructed all around the perimeters of our property. With some help from his Uncle Kenaz and some of the cousins, Rasujal takes his bow and arrow and goes out into the woods, far beyond our settlement, to capture some dragons to breed. The bow and arrow is just for defence. So as not to harm the beasts, they are going to be captured with nets.
It is a bloody undertaking and I expect that many of them will return with injuries. But none of them turn down Rasujal's proposal. There is much money to be made in settlement security.
Sure enough, when they return several weeks later, though their cages are full, their arms are scratched and one cousin even came close to losing a leg after a dragon bit a chunk of his flesh out. His cousins had to carry him home on a bed of wooden boughs. Mercifully, the wound healed instead of becoming infected, though the man will walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Jared is urging his sons to choose wives who seek after Yah.
Enoch nods with gravity as this idea is discussed over dinner. Rasujal, on the other hand, says he knows who he will be marrying and names one of his cousins. Nava is extraordinarily beautiful, but as far as I know, has little interest in the ways of Yah.
“I will ask her to be my wife when my first dragon lays an egg,” he says.
The prospect of him bringing this girl back to the settlement and having her live in my house until Rasujal is able to build his own house does not cheer me. I have never been able to talk to Nava on any topic and I have never seen her assist her mother in any way.
But Enoch is quiet.
It is not until a few weeks later that he tells his father that he has asked one of his cousins at the settlement of Mahalalel to marry him. He spent some time there and returned with this news. Edna is a quiet girl and has none of the beauty of Rasujal's future wife. But I could not be more pleased. She is the girl one always sees working in the background. And at the festival of the star map, she was one of the few younger people dancing around the fire. She will be a welcome addition to our family.
Jared is slightly puzzled.
“He could have any of the women among our settlements,” he says, that night after his talk with Enoch. We are alone in our bedroom. Kalah is now a young woman with a room of her own.
I nod. Enoch is handsome.
“But Edna is so . . . ”
He does not have to say it. Edna is plain compared to her sisters.
“Perhaps Enoch sees her heart,” I say.
“I suppose that is it,” says Jared, as he climbs into bed and pulls a light cotton sheet over us both, although the temperature is steady enough that we do not really need a covering at night. In fact, our Father Adam and Hawwa used to wander the Garden unclothed without discomfort. But I have always liked the feeling of cotton.
Now that our sons are ready for marriage, we have not spoken of further children. Pyramides is talking of traveling farther upriver, as I did once. He wants to visit the settlements of Cainan and Enosh, to select a wife. Apparently, none of the cousins in Mahalalel's settlement please him.
This is what we discuss as we drift off to sleep.
“Perhaps I will accompany him,” says Jared. “Soon Tikvah and Kalah will need husbands. And I would like to see the Great Pyramid . . . ”
Enoch's wedding brings many people to our settlement once again. We are honoured by unexpected guests.
Father Adam and Hawwa!
They do not announce their arrival, but simply appear in my courtyard along with all of the other people who are drinking mint tea and discussing the next day's wedding.
Father Adam is immediately surrounded by his sons. Hawwa joins me in by the stove. I nearly drop my tray of fruit pastries. We hug and she quickly joins me in kneading dough and assembling more pastries. I tell her she is an honoured guest and must not work like this. But she just laughs and says she will be useful.
She wants to know all about Enoch and his wife-to-be. I hint quietly that Yah is present with Enoch and she nods.
“My son Seth told me,” she says, also softly. Though there are people helping with food preparation, we are the only ones at this table. “That is why we are here.”
I glance into the house where Father Adam is at the centre of a large group of men.
Does he long to walk with Yah again?
Hawwa reads my mind.
“It is the greatest loss of all,” she says, quickly folding some honey-coated peaches into the dough.
I nod. She does not have to elaborate.
And then she asks me about Rasujal and Pyramides and Tikvah and Kalah. More of her daughters join us, wanting to talk to her.
I shoo her away, saying I am selfish to keep her all to myself.
She laughs and says we will talk more later.
I am left to wonder if the presence of Father Adam will draw Yah out to dance with his children once again.
A creation without a Creator.
I am bitterly disappointed. Though our son is now married and Edna is a blessed welcome in my home, Yah did not appear at Enoch's wedding.
I know Hawwa is as disheartened as I am. Though she keeps a pleasant face when we embrace and say goodbye, I can read the frustration in her eyes.
I do not know how others survive the loss of Yah.
It is Edna who explains it to me.
We work together in the courtyard while Jared and Enoch construct their new home.
“They live as if the creation is all that there is,” she says to me. “They speak with awe about the grass and the trees and the sky and forget that it was Yah who made it. My own mother speaks about flowers as if they are sacred.”
“You are so right,” I say, as I take this in. I have been alone in my settlement for so long that I have not realized this until now. Edna's mother has her whole house surrounded by flowering bushes. Anything that blossoms or blooms is arranged with stunning effect.
At Enoch's wedding under the stars, people spoke as if the stars themselves were worthy of worship.
“It is the pain of not having Yah,” I say. “They turn to his creation as a substitute.”
Edna shakes her head as she adds some more flour to the bread dough.
“It is not to compensate for his loss. They no longer desire him. His creation has become enough for them.”
It is bewildering, but I know it is true. I would gladly suffer desire all my life and never have it satisfied, than to long for anything less than Yah.
Edna brings a new addition to the settlement. She has domesticated a wildcat. Hatoul is small and lovely, but ferocious to those she does not count as her friends. She is even willing to take on Behemoth, although her claws have no effect on his thick skin. He merely yawns when she hurls herself at his leg.
But she is as docile as a baby when she is in Edna's arms.
Jared says Hatoul should be in a cage like Rasujal's lizards. But before he can follow up on this threat, an event changes Hatoul's outlook. Hatoul becomes a mother.
She still maintains her ferocity toward anything that threatens her seven young ones. But motherhood softens her and soon she is leading her young ones throughout our settlement, obviously the proud parent. One of her little ones attaches himself to Jared and soon everywhere Jared goes, little Chataltuol is behind him.
The small cats freely roam our settlement and seem to take particular delight in goading Rasujal's lizards in their cages. They walk by the cages, just out of reach of the lizard's claws and soon the whole wall is a cacophony of screeching animals.
Rasujal must make a communal cage in order for his lizards to reproduce after their own kind. All of us, including Hatoul and all her little ones, hide in the house on the day he must move the creatures to the one cage. I resign myself to losing my second son in this business venture of his. But his determination to stay alive matches their determination to do him harm and he corrals them all into one enclosed structure.
They are left alone for a few days and soon, there are eggs.
Rasujal announces triumphantly that he will now take Nava as his wife. And so we begin to plan for another wedding.
One night at dinner, Rasujal suggests that we have had too many events at the star map and perhaps we could have his wedding somewhere else.
“What is better than the star map?” Jared demands, almost rising from his chair. We all just stare at Rasujal. Enoch and Edna are still with us, although their home is nearly finished. It will not be too soon. Edna is expecting their first child.
Rasujal knows better than to pursue this line of thought and quickly says, the star map it will be.
I wonder whether it was his idea, or Nava's, to choose a different location. In any case, it is unthinkable that the children of the guardian of the star map would marry anywhere else.
I am spared from too much involvement with the wedding.
Nava's mother arrives, accompanied by several of her sons for protection, to discuss the upcoming event. While Rasujal shows his dragons to his future brothers-in-law, she and I drink lemonade in the courtyard.
What she suggests for the upcoming wedding is well beyond anything the sons of Seth have ever done before. Quite frankly, I will be embarrassed to host such an event. I realize now it must have been her who wanted a different locale for the whole wedding.
Like me, she appreciates cotton. She proposes a vast white tent not unlike the ones that Jabal used to live in, but on a much larger scale. The vast splendour of the star map does not seem to impress her. We must find a spot for her tent somewhere amid the stone structures.
The next thing to discuss is flowers. Flowers will be everywhere. For this, she suggests we call on Edna's mother.
“Fine,” I say. “She will be coming to stay with us soon. Edna's first child is expected any day now. . .”
She is hardly listening.
“Now, your vegetable pastries are lovely,” she tells me. “They are the talk of the settlements.”
I find that highly unlikely.
“However,” she continues. “You must not carry this load alone. I suggest . . . ”
She and Nava do not want the rough pastries that have served us well in the past. They are thinking of more delicate treats. This will mean much planning and the traders will have to be called on to bring in more exotic fare.
I sigh and lean back in my chair and concentrate on my lemonade. This is beyond me. But it does not seem as if anything is expected of me anyhow.
It is only at the end that I am told what is required of me.
“I know that dress you were married in is lovely,” says Nava's mother. “But perhaps a new dress would be something to consider.”
My wedding dress is what I wear to all the special occasions. It is simple and flattering without being conspicuous. Nava's mother pulls out a sample of fabric and shows it to me. I take it and look at it. It is cream-coloured and feels smooth and soft and delicate. Quite unlike anything I have ever worn.
“What is it?” I ask.
“The traders call it silk,” she says. “There is a settlement, among the sons of . . . oh, I forget who, that is entirely devoted to making it. It has something to do with worms but you would never know it to feel it.”
I hand back the cloth.
“Nava's dress will be made of it,” she continues. “Of course, she will be the centre of attention. But the rest of us must not be too drab.”
I am certain that Nava's mother has no intention of being too drab, so the comment is for my sake.
Very well then. I will make myself a dress.
Standing up, Nava's mother says that if I cannot assemble something appropriate in time, then perhaps she has something that might do . . .
I stand up and say that I think I will be able to pull something together for the occasion.
Then, much to Rasujal's disconcertion, Nava's mother wants to see what progress has been made on the house that he is building for her daughter.
Sadly, it is next to nothing. The land has been allotted to him, and Jared and Enoch have cleared enough of the forest that it is a good size for a home. The trees are just sitting waiting for Rasujal to take the next step and actually start building. But he has been so busy with his dragons.
Nava's mother is not impressed with his dragons but her sons are. One of them is even going to purchase one for his family's protection. My feeling about that is, who will protect his family from the dragon?
remember Roeh's sheep and his lively mother, the first two people I met who were not children of Cain.
My dress for Rasujal's wedding is made of soft wool. I go all out and even dye it with the juice of some of my raspberries which makes it a light pink, not unlike the colour of some of the flowers provided by Edna's mother.
But no one is looking at me. It is the bride who has everyone's attention in her long, flowing silk robe, with golden thread woven around the edges.
Whereas a wedding in the past celebrated a love of Yah for his people and the idea that a man and a woman represent Yah's image, this wedding is all about the love of Rasujal for Nava. It is praised as if his love is something to be sought after. I know my son and know that he is not worthy of such homage.
More tellingly, there is no star dance scheduled for the evening, only an abundance of food and talk. I can barely stand it – the conversation centring on personal achievements and ambitions - and return to the house early to check on Edna and her new son, Methuselah. Edna has been spared the bother of finding a dress for this occasion, having given birth only a week ago.
Enoch has given his son a peculiar name, Methuselah. It means, “In the year he dies, it will be judgement.” Edna is well aware that her son has an unusual name. Although she agrees with me, she does not speak of it any further. I suspect that Enoch is more open with her than he is with me. Not that there is distance between us, but it is inevitable that a husband and wife should share more.
Although Nava's mother was the force in creating this whole wedding, she is nowhere in sight when it comes time to clean up.
Jared does not want the star map cluttered with remnants of the wedding and much to Rasujal's disgust, he has his second son out of bed and with him the next day, cleaning up the plain. I become the owner of a large tent for which I have no use. Folded up, it is compact and I haul it upstairs to give to Nava. Perhaps her mother can use it again for another wedding.
Knocking on the door, I hear a sweet voice say, “Come in!”
Nava is seated in front of a glass, running a comb through her hair.
“Oh, it's only you,” she says. The voice has completely changed.
“Yes,” I say, deciding to ignore the rudeness. After all, we will have to live in this settlement for the rest of our earthly lives. I drag the rolled-up tent into the large room. “I have come to return this.”
She glances at it.
“I have no use for it,” she says.
“Perhaps your mother would like it back . . . ”
Nava shrugs. She is twisting her hair on the top of her head and examining the effect in the mirror.
“If there is another wedding . . . ”
Nava shrugs again.
“If there is another wedding, she can get another one.”
“OK, my dear,” I say. I pick up the heavy bundle and decide that perhaps the traders will have some use for it.
“Shut the door on you way out . . . oh, never mind. I will do it myself,” I hear my daughter-in-law say behind me.
I shake my head. Life was never perfect, but I wonder if I will be able to tolerate this new situation.
Not wanting the tent just sitting in my courtyard, I take it straight outside. Jared and Rasujal are back at the star map, this time to retrieve the tables. At least the remains of the food and the flowers can be left behind.
I load the tent into my cart and go over to a large shed that now houses our ponies. At one point, I decided that if Edna can tame a wildcat, I can tame a few ponies and so now they are at our disposal whenever we need them.
I know I am being foolish, but I decide to just head for the river and wait for the traders. Part of me is weary, weary of this life without Yah. It makes me indifferent to my own safety. My children need me less-and-less and now I have the prospect of living with a vain, self-centred daughter-in-law until my son builds her a house. Since Rasujal is only ambitious when it comes to projects that interest him, I may have Nava in my home for quite some time.
The forest that runs along the river is not as dense as the one that borders the star map. But there are still some useful things to harvest along the way. I spot an active beehive up in a tree and make note of its location to tell Jared. I pause to pick some almonds from a bush. They will be appreciated if the traders take awhile. I also pick some asparagus. It will make a quick evening meal.
I arrive at the riverbank. The majestic Tigris, impassable without a boat, is soothing after the troubles of the settlement. I unharness the pony so he can graze among the tall grass. I sit down and watch the river, but as time passes, it is obvious I will be here awhile.
While I wait, I harvest some arrowroot that grows along the river. The boiled rootstock makes a pleasant change from potatoes.
Just as I am beginning to get edgy, thinking that Jared will return and find me gone, I see a trader's boat in the distance. The current is strong today and it is not long before I am waving them down to stop at our small dock.
Mercifully, these are not the type of men with the knives and the scars from fighting with the knives. These are the kind of traders who deal in items very much like the tent I want to trade with. They have items that are useful, but not especially valuable.
The head-trader is interested in the tent, but of course, it is of little value to him unless he can find someone who wants it.
“It was for a wedding,” I say. “It can hold 500 people.”
“Ahh,” he says, recognizing the potential of such an item. “Yes, that might interest some people.”
It is a matter of indifference to me what I obtain in return. But in order to turn the conversation to the children of Cain, I inquire as to whether he has any metal items by the craftsman, Tubal-Cain.
“Ah, yes,” he nods. “Some beautiful items. Copper plates.”
“A pot, perhaps?” I say.
“Many pots,” says the trader, signalling for one of his men to go down below and bring a few up for my selection.
“And how are the children of Cain?” I ask, casually.
“The city of Cain is peopled by giants,” he grumbles.
“And the children of Cain?” I ask. “Are they well?”
“They prosper.” The trader shrugs. “It is unusual for a daughter of Seth to inquire about the children of Cain.”
I do not know how to reply, but then a voice among the traders speaks up.
“Havilah was raised among the children of Cain.”
It is Semjaza!
What is he doing among the traders? I did not notice him because he was sitting down on the deck with a group of them. Now he stands up and comes forward, just as a couple of the traders come up the steps carrying a large black pot between them, followed by some other men with smaller pots.
“I think this one will do for Havilah,” says Semjaza, taking hold of the large pot and effortlessly stepping off the boat to the deck, putting it on my cart. “She is the wife of an important man and has many people coming and going from her settlement.”
I am just staring.
The trader does not seem to care. One pot for the tent is a reasonable exchange. He bids me good day and then calls to Semjaza to get back on board if he wants.
“I will visit with my lady,” Semjaza calls back.
There is some snickering among the traders. I have heard it said that among the traders there are men who have a lady in almost every settlement.
“Do I have to pull this today?” Semjaza asks, pointing to the cart.
I shake my head.
“I have a pony . . . somewhere.” I look around. That wretched animal is nowhere in sight. Tired of waiting, he has probably returned to the settlement. I still have a ways to go in domesticating these ponies.
His laugh is rich and seems to contain music. But I cannot entertain any idea of being with him. There is something about him . . . I am certain he is in opposition to Yah in some way, although I am helpless to explain his presence here among the sons of Adam.
Once again, Semjaza is pulling my cart.
“I never see you with your husband, Havilah,” he says to me, as we walk back.
“When do you ever see me?” I demand.
“I see you all the time,” he says, smiling without looking at me. “For example, that tent you traded was from you son's wedding.”
“Of course you know that,” I say sharply. “I said as much to the trader.”
“Your daughter-in-law wore a white silk robe with golden trim around the edges. Quite a lovely-looking girl, but I doubt your son will be happy with her. The guests feasted on honey pastries, mangoes and bananas, and a particularly expensive delicacy known as truffles. Female pigs are used to discover them . . . ”
“You only know that because you are among the traders now,” I say. I recall Nava's mother mentioning that we would be depending on them.
“I know because I was there.”
This is unsettling.
But perhaps what is even more unsettling is that he is right. If he sees me, it is probably not with Jared. It is not for lack of desire on my part. Jared is simply never around.
“Jared is busy,” I say. “First it was the star map. Then it was Enoch's home. Now I suppose it will be Rasujal's home.”
But what Semjaza says next is even more disturbing.
“No, my lady. He has booked a passage with the traders for him and your son, Pyramides. They will be gone for half the time it takes the earth to go around the sun.”
I stop walking.
It vaguely comes back to me that Jared said something about going to visit the Great Pyramid. But with Semjaza here by my side, that idea seems particularly menacing to my well- being.
“I will most likely be near him the whole time,” says Semjaza, reading my mind. “I would not dare visit you while your husband is gone. It would not be fair to him.”
Such arrogance. But I do not like the idea of Jared being haunted by Semjaza on his pilgrimage to the Great Pyramid.
“I will tell Jared that he will see you . . . ” I begin to say coldly, but am interrupted.
“Oh, but he will not.”
What manner of man is this? Semjaza disappears into the woods when we are within sight of the settlement. I continue on with the heavy cart. With effort, Jared lifts the pot for me and carries it to a stand in the courtyard where I can kindle a fire underneath it when needed. I follow with my asparagus and arrowroot. Although he chides me for going alone to the riverbank, Jared praises my trade saying he never wanted to see that silly tent again, or any other reminder of that wedding.
“Jared,” I say, hesitantly, as we return outside. No doubt he will dash off somewhere. I will not see him until the evening meal and then again, only briefly when it is time to sleep.
“Yes, Baraka,” he says, pausing slightly.
“Semjaza was in the woods,” I say.
Jared stops. Wherever he was going is forgotten for the moment.
“Baraka! Why did you not tell me?”
“I am telling you,” I say.
“I will cancel my journey with Pyramides,” he says immediately, thinking out loud.
“It will not be necessary,” I say. “Semjaza travels with the traders now. He is more likely to be with you than with me.”
Jared does not look convinced.
“I have Enoch to look after me,” I say. “And Yah,” I add.
“I will have to think about it,” Jared says, looking angry. Not at me, I hope. “Where is he now?”
“Somewhere in the woods,” I say. “He comes and goes.”
Scanning the perimeters of our settlement, Jared seems satisfied that Semjaza is not skulking about. I would not be so sure. But Jared announces he has work to do back at the star map, and though it is already late, he will be back for the evening meal when he can.
Wearily, I go upstairs. I do something that only children do and curl up on my bed and have a nap.
It is agreed that Jared and Pyramides will follow through with their plan to visit the Great Pyramid. Enoch is instructed to protect me, a greater necessity now that a sad event has befallen our settlement. Behemoth is dead.
My faithful friend just lay down one day and did not get up. I knew he was growing older, but it was still a shock to go outside, give him a gentle nudge and have him not move.
I wept for nearly a day.
Rasujal immediately offered one of his beasts as a new lizard guard, but I have no desire to befriend another of Behemoth's kind and most certainly, not one of Rasujal's vicious beasts.
Enoch, Edna, young Methuselah and I walk down to the river to see Jared and Pyramides off on their journey. When the traders arrive and dock, I nervously scan the deck for Semjaza. But there is no sign of him. That means nothing, of course. He could be down below.
We wish Jared and Pyramides God speed and then we return slowly to the settlement. This is Edna's first walk since having Methuselah and she wants to stretch it out. We pause to harvest some more asparagus. Edna goes a little ways when she sees some blackberries. It is the leaves that she wants. They make a refreshing tea in the morning, freshening the breath. Edna has come up with many new teas for us to drink, including raspberry leaf tea and rose hip tea.
She is so skilled with her brews that I laughingly promise her our own trip to visit Hawwa, bearing gifts of the new beverages for her, someday when Methuselah is older.
I do not expect to see Semjaza in the forest when I am accompanied by Enoch and Edna. But as Edna and Methuselah return to their home and Enoch walks me back to my own front porch, he says to me, “You have nothing to fear, Mother. Yah is watching you.”
I try to keep the tears from my eyes as I kiss my son's cheek.
“Thank you,” I whisper.
He nods and smiles before heading toward his home and his awaiting family.
He and Yah must have discussed matters that I have never discussed with Enoch. I wish I could be the one to talk with Yah, but it is enough to know that Yah is nearby. If Yah is watching, then I most certainly do not have to fear the lurking presence of Semjaza. Yah created the heavens and the earth. Though Semjaza may not be a son of Adam, he is certainly a creation of Yah. What manner of creation is anyone's guess.
I go inside to my quiet house. Nava is, no doubt, in her room fixing her hair. Rasujal is out with his ferocious lizards. Kalah is staying with Enoch and Edna, to help with the household chores in these early days of Methuselah's life.
Tikvah is probably in the courtyard.
But when I pass by the central terrace, it is empty.
She must be in her room.
As far as I am concerned, while Jared is away, Nava can take full responsibility for feeding her Rasujal. Tikvah and I can prepare our own meals.
I go upstairs to let Tikvah know that though I will bake bread everyday, she and I can eat as we please and not at any set time.
But Tikvah is not in her room.
I knock on Nava's door, just in case she's visiting with her sister-in-law. Nava, who does no work around here, is annoyed that I interrupt her nap. I am informed that Tikvah is not there and the door almost gets shut in my face.
She must be out, strolling the settlement, maybe with Rasujal.
But Rasujal is feeding his lizards and Tikvah is not with him. Now I am starting to get alarmed.
Despite that I have never known my daughter to go to the star map by herself, I hurry along the path to see if she is there. There is always a first time. Perhaps my daughter is like me, and longs to get closer to Yah . . .
But my daughter is nowhere to be seen. I cover the whole plain and circle the larger pyramids, but there is no one here.
My eyes cannot help but wander over the edges of the forest, but there is no Yah either. I return to the settlement, now thoroughly alarmed.
My son has just told me that Yah is watching me and I have nothing to fear, but now I am more afraid than I have ever been.
My first stop is at Enoch's house.
Enoch answers and immediately understands my concern. He does not need too many words. Tikvah is missing. That is all he needs to know.
He goes to talk to Rasujal and returns to report that Rasujal has not seen her all day. Edna is preparing me a soothing cup of raspberry leaf tea.
“Did Yah say anything about this?” I demand. I cannot help it. It is my daughter we are talking about, not me. For myself, I do not care if harm comes to me, but if anything happens to Tikvah . . .
Enoch hesitates before speaking.
“Yah can be trusted,” he says, joining us at the table and accepting a cup of tea from Edna.
“I know,” I say impatiently. “But these are violent times. Someone could have come from outside and taken her . . . ”
Again, my son hesitates.
When he does speak, it is with regret.
“It is my belief she went off willingly.”
“Willingly? What do you mean? Where would she go . . .?”
“I have seen her,” he says.
“When?” I demand. If he has seen her, why did he not tell me?
“Many times. Out in the forest.”
“Speak, Enoch!” I say, putting my cup down on the table. “What is it that I do not know?”
“With who?” I ask, impatiently. A man of few words is fine, so long as one does not need information. “One of her cousins?”
Enoch shakes his head.
“The one known as Semjaza.”
cannot speak at first.
The idea that Semjaza might approach Tikvah has never occurred to me. The very thought! Is it possible that my own daughter would be so foolish? I have told them the story of my arrival among the children of Seth and they know that my adopted sister is married to Semjaza in my place. Although I have not gone into great detail, they all know he is not to be trusted.
“Impossible,” I say, but already my mind has raced ahead to the possibility that Tikvah has gone off with Semjaza. “Semjaza told me that he would be along the Tigris, where your father and Pyramides journey. He promised to leave me alone.”
Even as I say it, I try to recall his exact words. Something about it not being fair to Jared . . .
But as I recall the whole conversation, I realize there is no reason to dismiss the idea that Tikvah might be with Semjaza.
“But why did Tikvah keep this from me?” I ask. “Why did you?”
“I did because Yah told me to,” Enoch says. “And I would guess that Tikvah kept it from you because she would not be expecting your approval.”
I am stunned.
That my daughter would keep something from me is insignificant compared to Yah keeping it from me.
“What manner of God is Yah?” I demand.
“When you know him as I do, you know there is only good in him. And whether Tikvah comes to harm is a small matter. She does not serve Yah.”
The truth of this hits me like a stone.
“But I do not think Yah would let harm come to her,” says Enoch quickly. “For your sake, Mother.”
I look down at my hands. I hardly know what to say.
“But that is only my opinion.” Enoch whispers this last statement.
“Yah is compassionate,” says Enoch. And then he falls into silence. It is probably the longest discussion he and I have ever had.
And I understand what he is saying. Though Tikvah is my daughter, she is not a seeker of Yah. If he watches over her, it is only for my peace of mind. Yah is compassionate. But he has promised nothing to Enoch in this matter.
“So what do I do now?” I ask quietly.
Edna comes around the table and sits beside me, taking my hand.
“You wait,” says Enoch.
To wait is the hardest thing.
I would rather go dashing through the forest, calling out for Tikvah, calling out for Semjaza even. Or to make Enoch go out and find Yah and demand that something be done. Much to my annoyance, Enoch has quietly left the house without telling me where he has gone.
I am alone with my thoughts, although Edna keeps my company. Edna is not one of these women who feel the need to fill all silence with talk and so she is tactfully quiet. Later, we are joined by Methuselah, who has no such approach to life. He feels silence must be filled with giggles, burbles and many and varied attempts at talk. Edna's attention is taken up by him and soon I am left with a cup of cold tea and a sense that I am utterly alone.
Even if I could find Tikvah, how could I persuade her that Semjaza is not the right man for her? He is tall, he is handsome, he is everything a woman could want. And what can I offer Tikvah? Myself? Life here in a quiet settlement with an ageing mother and a distracted father?
Even if Jared returns with the announcement that he has secured a husband for Tikvah, what man could tempt her from Semjaza who knows the names of far-away planets and has seen the stars?
Wearily, I realize that I am not waiting anymore for Tikvah to return, I am merely waiting for the strength to get up and carry on.
Enoch comes back. He has not been idle.
He has gone through the woods, though he does not say whether it was to look for Tikvah or to seek out Yah. But he does not return with Tikvah.
That is when I know it is over.
I stand up and thank both him and Edna. They look startled.
I tell them that I will be in my home if anyone needs me. As I head out, I turn back to say to my eldest son, “Please send word to your father of the situation.”
I cross the clearing that is our settlement, now dim with the sun below the trees. It is over. That is what my heart is saying again and again. It is over. It is over.
My daughter has gone off with Semjaza.
Only Yah knows where.
I might never see her again, but in Yah's mercy, I can plainly see that she will not be missing me. She longs for Semjaza in the way that I long for Yah. Wherever she goes, whatever troubles she faces, she will not ache for me in the way I ache for her right now. This pain is entirely mine.
Enoch stops by the next afternoon to let me know that he waved down a boatload of traders and asked them to pass on the message to the two travellers, if they see them.
“It is only a hope,” he says. “If we do not hear back from them in a week, I will go myself.”
“Your father would not want that,” I say. “Send Rasujal.”
“Perhaps one of the cousins can be persuaded to go,” he says. “Do not worry, Mother.” He gives me a quick kiss on the cheek before returning to his own family.
Nava comes downstairs. I did not tell her Tikvah was missing, but she has probably gathered as much from Rasujal because she is eager to talk.
I pour her a cup of mint tea and brace myself.
She asks me if Tikvah is OK.
I say, to the best of my knowledge.
“Was she . . . taken against her will?” Nava leans forward, half-thrilled, half-horrified by the thought.
My laugh is genuine.
“Is she returning to us soon?”
“She would be the one to ask.”
“Is she to be married?” The girl has no sense of tact.
“She is old enough,” I say.
Nava sips her tea. I can see her visibly straining to think of another question.
But I get up and tell her that I am going to take a walk to the star map. She can feel free to help herself to whatever she needs to prepare an evening meal for her and Rasujal. She opens her mouth, but before she can speak, I am halfway to the door.
Food has lost all appeal for me. I am glad that Kalah is at Edna's house, being fed and looked after. I would not be much of a mother to her these days.
Though it is getting dark by the time I arrive at the star map, I am unalarmed. I doubt I will be seeing Semjaza anymore. And marauders are usually in more populated areas. No one steals pyramids and too few people visit them to be accosted.
“Oh Yah,” I say, out loud as I walk among the grand structures, only so recently completed. “My daughter is missing. But I guess you know that.”
I am startled. I look around. But in the darkness, I cannot see anything.
“I do not know what to do,” I continue.
There is no reply.
“But I imagine you know what to do,” I add. “And that is sufficient.”
I do not hear the voice again as I move around the star map. Jared could tell me about the stars that each pyramid represents, but Jared is not here.
I sleep more now, even during the days.
I am up in my room sleeping when Jared returns to the settlement. I hear Rasujal call out a greeting to him. Quickly, I get out of my bed and hurry downstairs to greet him as he comes through the door.
“Wife, what is this?”
I do not even get an embrace. Jared is agitated.
“It is true,” I say. “Tikvah is gone.”
“How could you let such a thing happen . . .?” I think even as he is saying it, he realizes it is an unfair accusation.
“I think you should talk to Enoch,” I say, gently, taking his arm. “He is the best one to talk to.”
“Of course,” says Jared. “You must be sick with grief.” He pats my arm before hurrying off toward Enoch's home.
I step outside and watch him cross the settlement.
But I am not sick with grief. Resignation has set in and it leaves me weary.
I survey the settlement. I do not see Pyramides. Have I lost two children?
I go back into the house. I doubt very much that Jared will want a lavish welcome-home meal, but I should, at least, prepare something simple.
When, at last, he comes home, I have a vegetable soup and some flat bread.
We eat it together at the long table.
“Where is Pyramides?” I ask.
“I left him at the settlement of Enosh,” he says, absently. “He liked it there.”
Probably a pretty cousin.
Jared does not seem interested in talking. He must know now that Tikvah has been spending time with Semjaza. I do not know whether he is angry or whether he is hurt. It is not until the end of the meal that he speaks.
“I have failed her,” he says. “I should have found her a husband sooner.”
I am not entirely sure that would have helped. Semjaza is far more charming than any son of Seth, particularly if one does not consider the matters of Yah to be important.
“We might never see her again,” he says.
“It is possible that we might,” I say. “He left Naamah after she bore him five children.”
The disheartened look on Jared's face makes me wish I had not spoken. Still, it is the truth.
“Where do you think he has taken her?” Jared asks.
“The world is big.” I stir my uneaten soup, now cold. “Of course, it is possible he took her back to the city of Cain.” It is the only place I can think of. I cannot imagine he and Tikvah travelling up and down the Tigris with the traders. Jared has also hardly touched his soup. I stand up and take our soup bowls into the courtyard, still within hearing distance of Jared.
But what he says next makes me think I misheard him.
“Then we will go to the city of Cain,” he says.
Quickly, I put down the bowls on a table and hurry back into our dining room.
“But we are children of Seth,” I say. “We would never be welcome there . . . ”
“You have family there,” he points out. “They were kind to you and you were not a child of Cain.”
He is right, of course. But I just never thought I would go back. As much as I have desired to visit my sister, Naamah and my brother, Tubal-Cain, I have been equally afraid to depart from the presence of Yah.
“But you are a guardian of a star map,” I say. “You cannot leave.”
“What good have the star maps done us?” he says, standing. “We build them and Yah does not come.” His voice is rising. “And now a man who stands against Yah has entered my settlement and taken my daughter. If I have to give my very life to bring her back, I will.”
I try not to sigh out loud.
What my husband does not realize is that Tikvah might not want to come back.
I return to the courtyard to clean the bowls and put them away. Despite my protest, there is really very little to consider.
If my husband travels among the children of Cain, then I will go with him.
he world has changed.
Nothing is the same as the journey that brought me here.
We are walking it, just as I did those many years ago. Jared wants to find out if Tikvah is in any of the settlements along the way. The first one we come to is the one of our father, Mahalalel. Only Mahalalel is told about Tikvah. All the rest are not aware of the real reason for our visit.
In fact, they do not realize that we are heading east. They will assume that we have simply come to see our father and then return home.
I stop off in Chaya's home.
Like me, she has aged, both in her heart and on her face.
As we sit together in her courtyard, the conversation is light. I cannot talk to her about what really matters to me, Tikvah and Yah. And she is not free to talk for the presence of her husband, an overbearing man who seems to have an opinion on everything that is of no importance. He talks while she prepares us a drink.
By coincidence, Chaya serves me the same drink as Roeh's mother did when I passed through the settlement of Dalath.
“This is cocoa,” I say, surprised. “I am told it is a bean grown by the sons of Seth who live near the Gihon.”
“Kenaz's wife is from there,” she says. “Her parents bring it whenever they visit us. The children love it.”
“It keeps them awake at night,” says Chaya's husband. “If it were left to me, I would serve them only lemon tea. But a man does not rule his own house.” He laughs. Judging by the cowed mannerism of my sister, I know very well he does rule his own house.
We stay only one night at Mahalalel's home. He wishes us God speed on our journey and promises to keep ears open for news of Tikvah.
We set out early and are within sight of Zayin by late afternoon. One thing I notice is how many more people there are. Whereas I walked along a quiet riverbank to get here, now there is activity all along the way. Most of it is harmless, everyday labour, but some of it is menacing. Two men approach us just outside of Zayin and say they have fallen on hard times and need money to return to their settlement. Jared sharply points out to them that there are plenty of fields around here that need harvesting and they should have no trouble finding work to earn the money.
Then a knife comes out.
I scream. But Jared is prepared. He grabs the man's arm and twists it behind his back, causing the knife to fall. As his partner lunges for it, I manage to grab it while at the same time, accidentally grazing his face with it. Now it is his turn to scream.
I am so shaken up, I start screaming again.
And then some nearby farmhands come over to see what is happening. I am not entirely sure that it is to assist us, but the result of it all is that our attackers hurry off and we carry on into Zayin.
After our experience, my legs are weak. Jared asks where I stayed when I first came here. I tell him about Yafeh, but doubt that she would remember me. In any case, there is now some kind of a guesthouse for travellers by the central plaza.
We enter the three-story wooden building and find the communal area filled with traders lounging on cushions and drinking wine. Moving through the large room and into the courtyard we encounter an overworked boy feeding an assortment of pack animals. There are even some tame lizards, tied up, among the ponies and goats. He tells us his father owns the guesthouse and we will probably find him somewhere . . . The boy waves a vague hand.
We finally find the man in an outer building that serves as a cooking area. Like us, he has one of Tubal-Cain's stoves. A large woman is pulling trays of pastries out while a huge pot cooks some kind of stew on top. The husband seems to be supervising his wife more than assisting her and immediately turns his attention to us.
He wants to know who we are, where we're from. Jared is even better at me than deflecting questions. We end up with a third-story room, overlooking the courtyard.
The room is filthy. Obviously there is no consideration for the next traveller who will have to stay in it. Mud footprints are caked on the floor. The bed itself is nothing more than a large board on legs. There is a window, but it does not have glass or a screen, so bugs can freely fly in.
Jared looks at the room with grim disapproval but then suggests that we mingle in the town and see what news we can pick up.
“I should have left you back in the room,” says Jared, when it becomes obvious that the women out at night seem to be there for men's amusement only.
“I would not have felt any safer there,” I assure him.
There is only one tavern in Zayin, but it is filled with men and only the occasional woman.
We enter the tavern and take a table in the corner.
Jared orders two mugs of wine and then leans across the table to tell me not to drink it when it comes. I nod. Wine is an ever-present feature at our star map celebrations, but here the drinking is different. It is to excess and I notice to my horror that one man, who has passed out, is having his pockets searched by a fellow patron of the tavern. What few coins are found are triumphantly carried off to purchase another round of drinks.
Since we are not traders or children of Zayin, we are soon noticed by some of the patrons.
“Welcome, strangers!” one calls out, holding up his mug in salutation.
Jared nods a return greeting.
“What brings you to Zayin?” another man calls out.
“We visit my wife's family,” says Jared.
Now they all look at me.
“Are you a daughter of Zayin?”
Jared answers for me.
“We are leaving for the settlement of Dalath tomorrow,” he answers, truthfully, though the men take it to mean that that is my family.
“Oh, I never go there anymore,” says one man, shaking his head. “Too many of those hideous sons of Cain.”
I am surprised. Have the sons of Cain started moving among the other sons of Adam?
Jared asks the same question.
“It is obvious you have not been there in a while,” says the man, shaking his head again.
“Are they marauders?” Jared asks.
“No,” someone else calls out. “They are just big and Phobo is afraid of everything.”
Everyone in the tavern laughs. They have all stopped talking among themselves to take part in this conversation.
“No, but it is true,” someone else says. “Phobo is right. They take our women. And they take the most beautiful ones.”
Jared and I look at each other.
“And why would they do that?” Jared asks, casually.
There is shrugging.
“They do not seem to have women of their own,” someone puts forth.
“And they come from the city of Cain?” asks Jared.
There is nodding.
Now Jared and I have something to think about. Have the brothers of Semjaza decided to live elsewhere?
“But they live among the children of Dalath,” says one man. “I have a sister there. Yah be praised, she is very plain and does not have to worry about their attention.”
Everyone in the tavern laughs.
“But it is true,” says his drinking companion. “They take the beautiful ones and leave the plain ones for the rest of us.”
There is much agreement on this point, but clearly, no man in the room is willing to do anything about it.
When we return to the room, Jared says, “She may be in Dalath.”
“We can hope,” I answer, gingerly sitting down on the plank that is the bed. It creaks. “If only I had discussed with Semjaza what our future life would have been like had I gone away with him, we would have had a good idea of where Tikvah is now.”
Jared sits down beside me.
“I am just as glad you did not.”
We smile at each other.
There is no getting comfortable on this bed. The board serves only one purpose and that is to keep us off the floor, which is crawling with insects now that the room is dark. The flying ones buzz around us and Jared falls asleep swatting them.
We wake up stiff. Jared groans. I can barely move. How the traders stand it, I do not know.
I discover how the traders do it when we go downstairs in search of a morning meal. Many of the traders have passed out on the cushions in the communal room. I guess so long as you pay for a room, the proprietor does not care where you sleep.
We head outside, not intending to return.
The market square is slowly and lazily coming to life. Some traders have already set up their wares. I am alarmed by the number of weapons, knives in particular. It is not possible that Tubal-Cain and his craftsman are making all of these. Other men must have learnt the secrets of metal. As we pass by a wooden display case full of knives, I observe that the craftsmanship is not that of my brother. It is poor and rough. In a gruesome way, to be killed by a knife that Tubal-Cain made would be more desirable. It would be a quick, clean insertion.
Jared buys us some fruit we do not normally see among the sons of Seth – mangos and bananas. We also get some bread to go.
And then it is back to the path that runs along the river. It is a wider path than the one I travelled on as a young woman. People now move along it with carts pulled by horses or large domesticated dogs. We often have to step aside onto the grass to let overloaded wagons pass.
As we approach Dalath, there is a visible change among some of the people. Definitely taller and all around bigger. They look young though. Jared takes my hand. It is a protective gesture. But entirely needless. Though large, the people do not seem intent on anything but their business.
Dalath is now a walled city. The fields outside are covered with barleys and other grains, as well as the cotton plant that makes the material I love so much.
My memory utterly fails me in identifying any of the landmarks. Everything has changed.
We enter through the open gates, passing large men carrying large loads and large women carrying large children. It is a long time since I have been a child, but I do remember the feeling of being small. It is how I feel now.
Unlike some of the towns that keep their commercial transactions in the centre in the marketplace, Dalath is entirely devoted to buying and selling. Small shops line every street we turn down. Apartments are built on top. Not only are there shops with large swathes of cotton, ready to be altered in any way, there are also shops with every manner of item made of the material. Some stores sell just barley and grain. Others have more of a variety of produce. One little stand is entirely devoted to selling fruit juices to drink as you walk. The juice is poured into a small wooden cup that can be returned for a partial refund or kept if the person desires.
There is not just one tavern, but at least three. And there are places to eat that are more respectable – with tables and chairs and people to bring you a plate of food as if you were a guest in a home.
Both Jared and I move through the busy streets, surveying, straining for a glimpse of Tikvah. I finally give up and just keep my eyes on the men, looking for Semjaza. Even in the city of giants, he would stand out. He is a handsome man with a look of polished perfection. The giants here have ordinary features, though not unpleasant. In fact, one man passes by me who puts me in mind of Naamah.
Naamah! That is it!
I squeeze Jared's hand and he looks down at me.
“These are the children!” I say.
I nod as I look all around at the mix of people.
“These are the children of Semjaza and his brothers. Their mothers are daughters of Cain.”
Jared nods slowly.
“It makes sense.”
“They have moved out beyond the city of Cain,” I say.
“I do not think it will help us find Tikvah, though,” says Jared.
I know what he means. These are a hybrid people and though Semjaza is a son of the stars and Tikvah a daughter of Adam, I doubt he would bring her to this city of mixed people who practise tolerance for the sake of commerce. I fear my daughter might now be in someplace not as obvious as this bustling town.
We find an inn. This time, there are two to choose from and we select the one that is not favoured by the traders. It is operated by a large woman who has four children. There does not seem to be a husband around, but the woman seems able to handle everything herself. Her courtyard does not contain pack animals and she informs us that the price of our room includes a meal in the morning, should we choose to join her and her children.
The room is clean and the bed has a sturdy cotton mattress filled with straw. She tells us with pride that the straw is changed regularly.
“Well, this is an improvement,” I say, sitting down on the mattress.
“It is also twice the cost,” says Jared. We have brought semi-precious stones to trade along the way. In order to finance this journey, we cleared out our garden and emptied our house of all its furniture to give to the traders for stones. Even Rasujal contributed by selling one of his lizards.
I lie down and try to get twice the value for our money.
“I am going to go look around some more,” says Jared.
I lift my head up enough to nod.
There is no concern about leaving me alone in this inn. The large woman inspires a sense of safety.
“I will bring back some food,” Jared adds, as he is going out.
“Thank you, Jared,” I say. The door shuts. Food hardly interests me, although, the long journey certainly makes the body hungry.
I roll over and try to get comfortable on my side. Then I roll over and try the other side. It is not the mattress. It is me.
For Jared, this problem will be solved when we find Tikvah. I do not have the same feeling that this is merely the objective to be accomplished. She may not want to return with us. Tikvah is going to be a sorrow I carry with me for the rest of my life and I am weary just thinking about it.
I wonder how Hawwa can carry the load of the whole world being her children.
I am asleep when Jared returns and can barely get up when he offers me some roasted vegetables wrapped in a large grape leaf. Mistaking my lethargy for exhaustion, he encourages me to go back to sleep. The vegetables get put on the bedside table. But I ask him if he found anything when he was out.
“No,” he says, sitting down beside me on the bed to ease off his sandals. He offers me the vegetables again before beginning to eat them himself.
I wish now that I had stopped that man who looked like Naamah. If indeed he was her son, he might have an idea where his father is now.
“This seems like a safe place.” I lay back down.
“No,” says Jared. “It is not.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, rolling over to look at him.
“It is vile,” he says.
“In what way?” I ask, now sitting up.
“It has all the evil a man can imagine but it is controlled by money.”
I just stare at him.
“They have slaves,” he explains. “You can buy one in a tavern. You can have a woman for one night.”
My eyes widen.
“In one of the other taverns there is a large courtyard in the centre,” Jared continues. “In it, four men fight. To the death, Baraka.”
I feel sick.
“People bet on who will survive the contest. They use coins and stones and there is a man who takes the bets. If you choose the right man, you get double your wager back.”
Now I am wide-awake. This is the world my daughter has unknowingly entered into. Is it a world Semjaza will protect her from or is his heart just as violent?
Even more disconcerting, I now feel as if we have left the presence of Yah. He seemed distant to me at our settlement when he would walk with Enoch rather than me. But now I realize how close he was to all of us. Out here, among the children of Dalath, Jared and I are alone.
never thought I would say this,” says Jared, the next morning, as we set out. “But I wish I had one of Rasujal's beasts with us.”
We had a pleasant breakfast in the courtyard with the large lady and her children. The tea was watery and the bread was bland, but I consumed it with the sense that this little home is an oasis in a city of violence.
Now we are walking through the streets. The lady at the inn told us there is another gate on the opposite side of town, one called the Gate of Cain. She does not have to give the reason for its name. My guess is that the gate is close to the spot where I emerged from the forest that day and saw Roeh and his sheep.
Early in the morning, the town does not seem threatening. Debauchery has left it weak. I see the occasional man sprawled in a doorway. Liquid from broken pots have drained out in trickles across the walkway. Only the merchants look alert as they begin to open their shops and sweep away any dregs – human or otherwise – who have ended up in front of their premises.
As we emerge through the Gate of Cain, I realize Roeh's field is gone. The city has extended to cover it and we are now past it. Even the forest is more cleared out and instead of a narrow dirt path, it is now a stone walkway.
But the forest, rather than being serene, is menacing.
We hear human voices as we travel, just the two of us. People are now living deep into the forest. My mind wanders over all the possibilities. Outlaws, perhaps. Waiting to rob travellers?
My husband, though strong and brave, would not be equally matched for a gang determined to rob us. In this country, strong and brave is not enough.
But Jared is good.
It is his goodness that I depend on now, to see us safely through this stretch. Where Behemoth was my companion on the journey here, a sense that we are of significance to Yah comforts me on this venture.
Jared travels at a brisk pace and I try to keep up. I do not think he wants to spend a night in these woods and I do not tell him that it is impossible to avoid it.
As it turns out, I am wrong.
The woods end far sooner than I expect. The sons of Cain have spread out well beyond the city of Cain.
A walled settlement appears in a clearing. With fields of barley and grain all around it, it is small, but active. The gates are unlocked but in the opening stand men – large men. We stay close to the edge of the forest but are still noted by the men. Although they are laughing and talking among themselves, they would be capable of engaging in combat if necessary. It is their demeanour. And the tall spears held lightly in their hands.
In the time it takes us to pass the settlement, I see a man with a cart of grain pass through the gates. He is of little interest to the men.
We no longer have to travel by forest, unless we want to. There is a continual chain of cultivated fields followed by walled settlements.
By evening, we have a decision to make – a night in the forest or a night in a settlement.
Jared chooses something in between. A night at the edge of the forest. We have passed a settlement and are out of sight of the guards.
We share what little food we have left as we lean against a large willow tree.
“Is it a mistake not to check each settlement?” asks Jared.
I shake my head. I am almost too weary to move. Even the hard tree feels good after the long walk.
“If Semjaza moves among the sons of Cain, he will not choose a small settlement.”
I do not think Jared appreciates my confidence, the sense that I can understand Semjaza. But it is the truth, nonetheless. He has not talked to Semjaza. He has not experienced the majesty of Semjaza, the feeling one has that with him all things are possible, and even more importantly, that Semjaza will not settle for anything less than spreading his wings at the top of the greatest mountain. And the only mountain worth having among the sons of Cain is the city of Enoch. Cain himself would be but a tame bird to Semjaza.
Now Semjaza will show everyone that, not only can he have a daughter of Cain, but he can have a daughter of Seth too. And perhaps there will be more, when Tikvah loses her appeal. As daughter of a second wife, Naamah will bear it better than my Tikvah will.
Our first clue that I am right comes the next morning.
Coming our way is a whole crowd of men, traders, and ones who Jared and I have traded with.
They recognize us. They are far friendlier than if we had just waved them down at the river. For we are all sojourners in a strange land and there is genuine pleasure in their smiles of recognition.
“Jared, is it not?” says one of them. “And the lovely, Baraka. You are far from home!”
My quiet husband does not give away the reason for our travels.
So I turn my attention to the number of ox-carts they are leading, all empty.
“Business is well?” I say.
They nod enthusiastically.
“We delivered supplies for the great wedding.”
My spine goes cold.
“The great wedding at Enoch?” It is Jared who says it.
There is nodding all around.
“What an affair it will be!” one the traders calls out. “The groom wants the delicacies of the world at his table. His bride will wear a dress of silk made by a million worms. With pearls from the sea and diamonds from the ground.”
“The man asks for things that are nearly impossible! A bloodred diamond for the bride's finger. A symbol of true love, he says.”
“Flowers from along every river!”
“Banners made of every colour!”
The traders shake their head in good-natured revelry. This is splendid business for them, even if they are hard requests to meet.
“When does the wedding take place?” I ask weakly.
“In two days,” is the reply.
Our group is starting to break up. Perhaps there are more things the traders have to bring back in the short time.
But Jared and I are standing as still as stone pillars.
“Walk carefully!” one of the traders calls back. “You move among gods now!”
It is I who takes the first step. My husband seems to have lost his ability to move.
“We have two days to get her back,” I say briskly.
Jared just stands there.
Finally he speaks.
“We will only be able to bring her back with us if she wants to,” he says.
I do not speak, but only stand waiting for him to form his thoughts. Because, of course, he is right.
“She is now the . . . ” Jared searches for a word. “Queen of heaven! Pearls! Diamonds! Silk! And what will we bring her back to?”
At last, he and I are of like mind on this issue.
I think of our quiet settlement, spacious but with its dirt paths and forests with common mushrooms. Oh, but our forests are not common! Yah walks in them! But what is that to Tikvah who now stands as a goddess by her god? How will we tell her that Semjaza will only treat her as such as long as it pleases him to do so?
And in one way, it is to her disadvantage that she has only seen a marriage like Jared’s and mine. Jared is not harsh with his wife. Tikvah is hardly aware that the hearts of men can grow cold and cruel.
But even if she has, Semjaza's honeyed words will have assured her that he is not as other men. True. But perhaps in ways none of us can understand.
“We must speak with her,” I say.
Jared shakes his head.
The talk with the traders seems to have taken all the life and hope out of him.
“We must do only one thing, determine if she is happy. If she is not, we will die attempting to save her. If she is, we will return home before being forced to watch the whole wretched marriage.”
Knowing Semjaza, he would probably invite us to sit at the head table. The two dowdy children of Seth, out of their element, as he lavishes splendour on their daughter. We will not submit to his wishes, so Jared is right. We must determine Tikvah's state of mind without encountering Semjaza.
Though both of us feel tired, we start walking faster. Time is short.
My first sight of Enoch makes me gasp.
It has grown beyond recognition. Buildings now seem to stretch to the clouds. They are whiter and brighter than I remember.
My first thought is, how could walls protect a city with buildings so high? But one quickly realizes that only a fool would attack Enoch. For it is peopled by giants. And the giants are armed. They carry leather shields and spears. Some of them even have copper helmets, glistening in the sun. Tubal-Cain has obviously expanded his expertise.
I do not dare to talk to a giant but I feel safe stopping a farmer's wife about my age. She too is heading for the city with a horse-drawn cart full of produce. It is not market day. But perhaps everyday is market day now in Enoch.
“We have come for the wedding,” I say to her, trying to sound light. “Do you bring supplies for it?”
“Oh no!” she says laughing. “Our master Semjaza . . . ”
I hear Jared gasp.
“ . . . would never buy from us! He has his own farms. I bring only to sell to all the visitors.”
“She is a lovely bride,” I say.
The farmer's wife nods pleasantly but her attention is on her horse. The stone pathway, though wider now, is crowded and she must keep her horse close.
“But what an unusual name,” I continue. “Tikvah?” It is the first time I have uttered my daughter's name among the children of Cain. I am almost hoping that the woman will say that Semjaza is not marrying someone named Tikvah. But, alas, the woman nods.
“Yes,” she agrees. “I am told she is a daughter of Seth.”
“She is beautiful?” I say.
“I do not know,” says the farmer's wife. “I have never seen her.”
“Has anyone seen her?” I ask.
“I do not think so,” said the farmer's wife. “She does not just roam the marketplace.” There is another merry laugh.
And then we are all at the city gates, where there is much jostling as people and carts full of produce go in and people and carts that have been emptied go out. Giants guard but do very little to interfere. Normally, this would be a situation for irritation with so many people passing through this one narrow way, but there is a feeling of festivity and most people are good-natured about having to wait their turn to enter or exit the city.
As we get closer to entering, we see that some of the giants are young, suggesting they are not the children of the brother's of Semjaza and the daughters of Cain, but of the giants themselves.
But it is clearly an odd dynasty.
They do not have the lovely features of the children of Cain, dark and distinct. Some of them look mutilated, deformed almost, as if clay and stardust have mixed together in a way never intended. Not all are ugly, but none are as beautiful as their grandparents.
But the city itself is exquisite.
Once inside, I do not recognize anything.
It is all rebuilt, or entirely new.
To add to its splendour, it has a festive feeling. Strings of flags, garlands of flowers, circle entire buildings.
Poles have been erected from which hang colourful silk banners.
Workmen are out replacing the plain glass of the streetlights with coloured glass.
All for my daughter's wedding.
There is one place I have to see again and that is Tubal-Cain's shop. It is almost beyond hope that it would be in the same location, by the central marketplace. Sure enough, when we follow the crowds, and end up in the city centre, though I look all around, I cannot see my brother's shop.
But surely Tubal-Cain is still a well-known man.
Jared beside me is silent, taking it all in. Among the sons of Seth, we have our pyramids. But we do not have cities like this.
I ask a passerby where we can find the shop of Tubal-Cain, the metalworker. He shrugs and keeps walking. Maybe he is only a visitor himself.
I ask a passing shepherd. They always knew where Tubal-Cain's shop was. Gruffly, he nods and points to a huge white building. I thought it was an apartment building. Thanking him, I grab Jared's hand and we move through the crowds.
Sure enough, “Tubal-Cain, Metalcrafts” is written above the store's entranceway. There are still the glass doors, but it is no longer the cosy store Namaah and I once worked in. The window displays are now filled with swords, spears and helmets. Going inside, I see that the store is several stories high. The first level has jewellery in cases as well as the pots and copper platters that every household needs. There is a whole row of iron stoves along one wall.
I do not recognize the young woman and man behind the counter. We go up to the second level. It is almost entirely taken up with men admiring the weapons on display. There are more employees here – four young men are enthusiastically leading customers around and showing them all the various swords and knives in glass cases. Helmets are all lined up on shelves. Giants are here too, looking around. Jared takes a quick glance at one of the cases. I look long enough to see that the quality of Tubal-Cain's work is still excellent.
The third floor is quieter. It is a showcase for Tubal-Cain's craftsmanship. Exquisite iron railings, small engraved pots, a set of table and chairs, mirror frames that look as if they are made with metal thread the work is so delicate, a bed frame of elegant iron. There is a detailed tree, the height of a giant, in one corner. I go over to examine it. Golden fruit hangs from it. Is it possible Tubal-Cain heard the story of how Hawwa chose the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Only one employee is up here, a young man, watching us carefully.
“Can I help you?” he asks Jared.
Jared shakes his head.
“We have come for the wedding. But I have heard of the craftsmanship of Tubal-Cain.”
The young man nods.
“My grandfather's work is known among all the children of Adam.”
“This is true,” says Jared.
“And how is your grandfather's health?” I ask, cautiously.
“He is well,” says the young man. “He is always busy.”
I nod. I dare not ask any more questions, but oh! How I would love to see my brother again! But would he blame me for what has happened to Naamah? First, I abandon Semjaza, leaving Naamah to marry him. Now, my daughter marries him.
It occurs to me that this is not a time of rejoicing for the house of Lamech. But looking around one final time at Tubal-Cain's fine work, it is obvious that he is successful with or without the help of his illustrious brother-in-law.
Jared seems to understand that it is sad for me to be among the children of my family in Cain and he takes my hand as we go back down to ground level. The marketplace has tripled in size since the days of my youth. And today, it is packed.
“Will we even be able to find a place to stay for the night?” I say to Jared.
He shakes his head.
“I imagine every room is taken.”
“Perhaps among the tent-dwellers . . . ” I begin to say but am interrupted by a man, his head lowered, who has just bumped into me. There is a foul odour to him and I recoil.
At first I think it is a careless accident but then I notice the man has a desperate look in his eyes, hunted. His features are gaunt, but there is something familiar about him.
“I thought it was you!” he says in a low voice. “Havilah! What are you doing here?”
It is his voice that I recognize.
“Qayin!” I say.
He looks around, almost frantically. But no one is paying attention.
“Havilah!” he says. “You must help me!”
“But why, cousin?” I gently take his arm. He is not the man who Naamah once loved. I have never seen death before, but Qayin is what I imagine death to look like – fearful and at the same time, hungry.
Jared, watching this all with concern, relaxes when I call Qayin, cousin.
“You must get me out of here!” says Qayin. He almost collapses in my arms. Jared moves in quickly to support him.
Jared and I look at one another.
“He was once family,” I say.
“Then we will help him,” says my husband.
Together, we move through the crowds, each of us holding onto Qayin who seems to have lost all strength. At one point, Jared pauses to replenish our supplies. I am left holding Quayin, who, in addition to everything else, has lost weight.
“We must get out of here,” he murmurs.
“Soon,” I say soothingly. “We need food. You need food.”
Now loaded with bread and bean dip and honey and dates, we make our way through the stone streets to the gate we entered through.
At the sight of the guards, Quayin mutters, “Yah have mercy!” If he fears being noticed, it is unlikely. Wine is now being distributed in the streets and even the guards are hurrying forward to grab a cup.
“The party has started early,” says Jared.
I nod, stepping aside slightly to let an eager young man hurry over to the huge casks being brought by carts and erected on the stone benches along the walkways. Now that the drinking has begun, I am glad to be leaving the city.
But oh my Tikvah!
I look back with longing.
Semjaza probably has her in one of the buildings that touch the sky. Who knows how many giants guard the way?
Once outside the city, Jared hands me all the provisions and just picks up Qayin in his arms like a child. Qayin has nearly fainted anyhow. Although people glance at us, the news that wine is freely available in the city offers an explanation for the curious. The man has had too much too drink. Besides, the tent-dwellers are too busy making their way into the city for some wine to care much about anything else.
I do not want to encounter my half-brother Jabal or any of his children who might remember me as Aunt Havilah. So we stop at a tent with people who, though they are children of Cain, are unfamiliar to me. They are in the process of packing up provisions to take into the city with them. Apparently, the wedding festivities are going to last a week long. The news that they have started already makes them eager to hurry to Enoch.
They are happy to allow us the use of their tent, for a fee. While Jared works that out, I take Qayin inside the tent and stretch him out on a fraying cushion. The tent has been emptied of all valuables and all that is left are the items of no importance.
“Havilah,” he whispers. “I need water.”
I nod. The tent sits alongside a small creek. Taking a clay pot, I hurry outside and fill it up. Qayin sits up to drink it, but the effort exhausts him and he falls back.
“Oh Qayin,” I say looking at the once proud man. “What has brought you to this?”
“It is that wretched Semjaza!” He speaks quietly, but with emotion. “The man is not human. And humans are bad enough. You should know, you left him.”
“I left him because I discovered I was a daughter of Seth,” I say.
Qayin shrugs, as if he barely cares anything about those days.
Of course, I know that Semjaza bought Qayin as a slave for Naamah, but I can hardly imagine my gentle sister bringing him to this point.
“With all the planning for the wedding, I managed to escape,” Qayin says. “But I had no place to go. I have been hiding in the sewers of Enoch.” He groans. “With all the people coming and going, I thought it would be safe to come up and see if I could get out somehow. And get something to eat.” Qayin moans. I reach for our provisions and hand him some bread. There is a point of hunger where a man will gobble something down. But Qayin is almost too weak to take the bread. So I break off small pieces and dip it in the bean sauce for him, feeding him like a child.
But he is eager to tell me something despite his frail state.
“When I saw you, it was like seeing Yah himself. I have never called out to Yah before, but I called out to him in the sewer. I felt silly, but I asked him to help me get away from this wretched city.”
He has eaten only a few mouthfuls and he falls back now, wanting to sleep.
But there is something I have to know first.
“Qayin,” I say, my hand on his arm to keep him awake. “I must get to Tikvah.”
Qayin looks at me blankly.
“Tikvah,” I repeat. “The girl Semjaza is to marry.”
“Oh her,” he says with indifference.
“I must get to her,” I say.
“Why?” murmurs Qayin, almost asleep now.
“How do I get to her?” I ask.
“You cannot,” he mumbles. “Why would you want to?”
“Because she is my daughter.”
His eyes open for a moment.
“Then Yah help her.”
He shudders and then is asleep.
repeat the conversation to Jared while Qayin sleeps.
Jared looks grim as he glances down at the narrow form of Qayin, now sleeping so soundly one would almost think he was dead.
“We will talk to him when he has had some time to recover. If he found a way out, then that will be our way in.”
“But now we should rest,” says Jared, taking one of the cushions. I agree, stretching out on another. The encampment is quiet but there is noise in the distance from Enoch. Now is the time to rest. It is impossible to imagine what the next few days might be like.
We wake up before Qayin.
It is dark now, but the moon is almost full. Standing in the doorway of the tent, I realize that Semjaza plans to marry my daughter under the light of a full moon. The revelry continues in the city.
I am joined by Jared.
“We should wake that man and find out how he escaped,” says Jared. “We have so little time!”
As I look up at the moon, I realize something.
“No,” I say. “Maybe we need to wait a little longer.”
“What do you mean?”
I turn to him.
“Semjaza will have mesmerized her with his knowledge of the stars. She longs for him in a way we could never fulfil.” Jared may not like to hear this, but it is better to speak the truth. “Tomorrow, she will be the most important woman in this city . . . ”
Jared nods slowly.
“And if we bring her back to our dusty little settlement . . .” I continue.
He nods again.
“If we take her away before the wedding, she will always hate us,” I say.
“We must give her some time . . . ” says Jared.
“. . . to realize what she has gotten herself into,” I finish for him.
“But how long?” groans Jared, returning inside the tent and sinking down on one of the cushions. Qayin stirs but he does not wake-up.
“However long it takes,” I whisper.
Jared and I are both quiet. I am imagining us as tent-dwellers, using our remaining stones to purchase a tent and some livestock. Perhaps never returning to Enoch and Edna and Methuselah.
I settle down on a cushion. The feeling of urgency has changed to one of bracing myself for a long wait. Whatever action is required, I am encouraged by Qayin calling out to Yah . . . and Yah hearing him. Is Yah close to us, even here? I hope with all my heart that he is.
I do not know how long we just sit, in semi-darkness, until Qayin finally wakes. When he does, he is ravenous and eats a full meal. I have to return to the creek twice with the clay pot to satisfy his thirst. Then I have to return four times with enough water for him to bathe and wash his clothes in.
Then he sits back, wrapped in a blanket, satisfied and comfortable, and I see a glimmer of the man who used to scorn Naamah's love. But Jared is a man of strength and Qayin's shrewdness is not equal to my husband's determination. We have delivered him from Enoch, we have sheltered and fed him. Now he will talk.
Now that Qayin is a free man, he settles back to his story with good-natured condescension. We are in need and he knows it.
“Naamah is a silly little fool,” he begins. “She expected that beast to love her like a man. He was a monster to her.”
“Did he hit her?” I ask, thinking of what Chaya has told me.
“He did not have to,” he says. “I would have,” he adds. Jared looks at him with disgust. Qayin doesn't notice. “He tore the soul right out of her,” he says.
“What do you mean?” asks Jared.
Qayin looks thoughtful. “It is hard to explain. A woman can always control a man if she is determined enough. Most are not determined enough, of course, and so we dominate them.” This coming from a man who has only recently been liberated from slavery. “Naamah was born to be dominated. It was pitiful to watch her long for the beast. Her took her whenever it pleased him with no regard for who was watching.” Both Jared’s eyes and mine widen. “He kept her close enough that she longed for him but not so close that she ever belonged to him. That's what she wanted, to belong to him. Pitiful.” Qayin shook his head.
“Did he ever let her visit with her family?” I ask.
“I was her only family,” says Qayin. “I saw everything that went on between those two.”
“How could you observe everything?” I ask.
Qayin's jaw sets.
“I was nothing more than a dog to the man,” he says.
I do not want to inquire further into the nature of his slavery. Qayin says Naamah was pitiful. He has not had a chance to see his own state.
“Sometimes, Tubal-Cain would come and insist on seeing her,” continues Qayin. “Semjaza would order her to dress and wipe the tears from her eyes. Then she would sit beside him, quiet, while Tubal-Cain and Semjaza would talk about expanding the mines. The criminals work the mines now. None of us are freemen anymore. If you are accused of a crime, you go to the mines. Murder. Stealing an apple in the marketplace. It does not matter. It is all the same.”
“Why did Semjaza decide to marry again?” I ask, not particularly interested in the mines.
“Naamah is an old woman now,” says Qayin shrugging. “She spends her days crying. Her children pretend not to know her. Semjaza told her he would find a woman with some spirit. He said he wanted someone who would not weep so easily.”
I am chilled and more so by his next words.
“He is a cruel beast,” says Qayin. “He likes a challenge and he does not want a woman who breaks as easily as Naamah.” Then he glances at me. “Pardon, Havilah. I had forgotten that you said the girl was your daughter.”
“Speak frankly, man,” said Jared. “What exactly did you see while you were the man's slave?”
Qayin glances at me.
“We will walk,” he says. If Qayin expects to use weakness as an excuse not to talk man-to-man with Jared, he does not have a chance. Jared is pulling him up and holding him by the arm, practically moving him along the ground. They leave me alone in the darkness.
“Oh Yah!” I whisper. I am glad not to know the details. I only know that my daughter thinks she loves Semjaza. If we must bring her back broken in body and spirit, so be it. If only someone could help Naamah too and let her weary soul rest.
I wish I were back in our own forest, yet, even there, Semjaza could reach us. But if Semjaza could move among our forest, perhaps Yah can move among the children of Cain.
Weary, I drift off. When I wake again, it is morning. Jared is sitting upright, his face grim and pale. Qayin is not in sight.
“What is it?” I ask moving toward him.
For the longest time, he is just quiet.
“I have heard things a man should never hear,” he says finally. “I have heard about evils that never crossed my mind. Oh Baraka!” He turns to me. “It is not hard for me to imagine some things, but what goes on in there . . . ” He nods toward Enoch. “I never could have supposed.”
I lean my head on his shoulder and he puts his arm around me.
Outside the tent, there is life in the encampment. Some people have returned to their tents to recover from the night's festivities. The people whose tent we are in have obviously chosen to stay in the city.
Jared and I sit in silence.
“I know the way in,” he says after a while. “It is through the sewer.”
I nod. I figured as much. Though I do not care for the thought of actually trying it.
“Where is Qayin?” I ask.
“He left,” said Jared. “I could not keep him. He told me everything and then he said he was going to go as far away from this place as he could. I gave him some food and money.”
“That was nice of you,” I murmur. Thankfully, my mind is not filled with the knowledge that Jared now has to bear. My daughter is getting married today! I look down. My clothing is worn. I look like any farmer's wife. I suppose we will stand in the crowds with everyone else and if her eyes fall on us, she may not even recognize us.
“Tonight we will go into Enoch,” says Jared, before stretching out on a cushion to sleep.
But I am wide-awake. I eat what's left of the bread and walk down to the creek for some water, both to wash up and to drink. Some of the tent-dwellers are out and notice that I am a new face.
“Here for the wedding?” one woman asks.
I nod and try to smile pleasantly.
“Things will get out of hand,” predicts another woman. “I am staying here with my children.”
“Your husband will not miss out on the revelry,” says the first woman.
“What does it matter to me?” the woman shrugs. “Let him have his fun.”
“I am staying here too,” says another woman. “I do not trust the giants when they have had too much to drink.”
There is much agreement. The city will not be safe tonight.
“Are you curious about the bride?” I ask.
A couple of women shrug.
“We have not seen her. We will never see her again.”
I decide to be bold and gather as much information as I can.
“I remember the days when Father Cain sat in the city gates,” I say.
One woman laughs.
“Those days are long gone. He will be lucky if he is invited to the feast tonight.”
“You are from an outer settlement?” a woman asks me.
I nod. Let her think I still live among the children of Cain. She does not need to know how far I have come.
“Life is better there, I think,” says one of the women.
“Life is hard everywhere,” I say.
Much nodding and agreement. And then the women must return to their tents with their water and all the responsibilities that await them. I have nothing to do except wait for Jared to wake up. I wonder how long I could stand to live here, just outside the city of Enoch, waiting for my daughter to realize what she has married.
I am not afraid of hard work. I do not think myself better than these people, because I was once a child of Cain, or so I thought. But I miss my own home and the company of Enoch and Edna. And at home, there is always something for me to do. I have never been in this situation where I have nothing to do and am restless.
I am tempted to walk straight into Enoch and demand an audience with Semjaza. He would probably shame me by denying me one. But arriving via the sewers will be even more humiliating if we are caught. I cannot imagine Tikvah welcoming me with open arms if I appeared in her home after a journey through the pipes that carry the waste.
At long last, Jared awakes. We pack up everything that is ours in case we do not return. Then we follow the few people heading into Enoch. Most people are already in the city and the walls look as if they are going to burst there are so many people moving in the streets. Some have even used ladders to climb to the top of the walls.
The people who are not drinking wine and carousing, are moving to the city centre. We follow along, holding hands to keep from being separated. The marketplace is filled.
All eyes are on the largest and most ornate building. It is made of stone and it takes up one whole side of the marketplace. Even in the twilight, it is a gleaming white. Although it seems to reach up to the sky, the entire third floor has a balcony that juts out over the marketplace.
All along the balcony's edge are lights and flowers. That's what everyone's eyes are on.
We wait in the crowds as darkness falls. There is jostling and I hope that Jared has a good grip on our valuables because it is an ideal situation for thievery.
Then, when the sky is dark and the moon is bright, we see movement. It is not Semjaza who comes out first, but some of his brothers.
The crowds begin to cheer. The giants are followed by familiar faces. I recognize Tubal-Cain, older and stouter. Then Lamech with Zillah beside him, but not Adah. I guess that's one small dignity Naamah retains. She does not have to include her father's first wife. But it is humiliating enough that the family of Lamech must attend this event. Then it is Naamah herself. A few cheers go up for her. From a distance, she is still lovely and tonight she is wearing a shimmering red dress. And around her neck is the necklace, the one with the moonstones, crafted so carefully by Tubal-Cain all those years ago.
The final person to come out is Semjaza. Now the crowds roar.
They are calling out their adulation. There is genuine adoration among these people amassed here in the marketplace. I have no doubt that Semjaza has won them over with his eloquence. The crowds love him.
But where is Tikvah?
A shout from one of the streets that run off the marketplace answers my question.
It is a procession.
Giants are shoving bystanders to the side, hardly possible in the dense crowds, to make room for an enormous platform that carries a golden chair, and on it, my daughter Tikvah. The platform is high enough that everyone can see her. She looks solemn, and her white dress, trimmed in gold and pearls glimmering in the moonlight, makes her look like a newly born star. Like everyone in the streets, the sight mesmerizes me. The platform is being pulled by four white horses. I doubt I will ever see anything like this again.
I glance up at Semjaza.
His lips are twisted in a smile. This is obviously what he envisioned. He is creating the sense that Tikvah is worthy of him, although how long that illusion will last, I do not know.
I look up at Jared. But there is no pride on his face, only pain. He knows more than I do about what awaits our daughter and with much knowledge comes much sorrow.
Then the platform arrives in the marketplace and the crowds must part to let it by. It would not surprise me if people die tonight under the feet of the giants who now use whips to make way for the horses. The platform is so high it is level with the balcony.
When Tikvah stands, Semjaza himself moves forward to lift his bride over to his side. The crowds love it and shout their approval.
It should be Cain who marries them. When I lived here, Cain married all his children, or if for some reason, he could not, then Enoch did. But today, I see neither man. Semjaza evidently does not believe there is anyone higher than him in the city.
Holding Tikvah's hand high, he turns to the crowds.
The crowds go quiet.
“We come before you tonight,” he calls out, his voice carrying over the heads of the people. “And ask that you share our joy.”
The crowds roar. It is almost deafening.
I notice that Naamah does not look joyful.
When the crowds quiet down, Semjaza continues to speak.
“In Enoch, we are all equal. We are all as gods, knowing good from evil. We have eaten of the fruit of the tree and the tree has made us wise.” I recognize the words of the manuscript that my father carried, although Semjaza has arranged them in his own way. I wonder if everyone in the crowd is aware of the allusion. They are hushed, taking in every word.
“We are called to fill the earth and to subdue it, to have dominion over the birds of the heavens, over every living thing that moves on earth.”
Though it is Yah who has given us these words, Yah is not mentioned.
“We are formed not as dust, but as stardust,” Semjaza calls out to the still crowd. Now that is not true. The manuscript says we are dust and God breathed the breath of life into Father Adam and he became a living creature. Hawwa was created from a rib from his side.
“We are not cursed creatures,” says Semjaza. “But creators of our own destiny!”
I know where he's getting that. Yah cursed his creation after Father Adam and Hawwa chose to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Indeed, we are cursed creatures, and how much more as we stand here tonight?
“We are called to be fruitful and to multiply,” continues Semjaza. “And so I come before you today with Tikvah.”
The crowds cheer. Jared's hand tightens around mine.
“I declare to you my intent to take her as a wife. And in turn, she declares to take me as her only husband.”
Jared and I look at one another. We have both noticed the careful distinction. Tikvah is to have no other men. Semjaza is free to have as many wives as he wants.
Tikvah nods, looking up at Semjaza with adoration. I can tell my girl is overwhelmed by all of this and is holding onto Semjaza for her strength.
That seems to be the ceremony.
Then one of Semjaza's brothers moves forward to make a small speech welcoming Tikvah to the family. Then it is Tubal-Cain's turn to come forward, welcoming Tikvah to Enoch. I am proud of my brother. He is dignified regardless of what this means for his family. I notice that Lamech has lost most of his colour and is much thinner than I remember. The loss of prestige is affecting him heavily, no doubt.
The crowd is respectfully quiet, but getting restless. On the balcony, Semjaza speaks one more time.
“It is my desire that you all share in the festivities,” he calls out. Someone has handed him a glass of wine and he raises his voice, “I drink to your health, I drink to your wealth, and I drink to . . . life!”
He downs the glass in one gulp and tosses it off the balcony.
The crowds roar back. They love him tonight. They love the beautiful woman beside him, but they will never see her again.
Then more wine is coming out from what must
be Semjaza's home. This time, it is accompanied by food. The crowds move forward.
Jared drags me in the opposite direction. On the balcony, the wedding party is
moving inside. I have only a glimpse of Tikvah's dress as she disappears
through the shimmering glass doors.
he city of Enoch is the last place I want to be. It is Semjaza's city now. I think, perhaps, that we should try to get word to Tikvah that we are here outside of the city and that if she needs us, we will be here for as long as it is necessary.
But Jared says we will go into the city and that is where we will stay until it is clear what we should do.
I am concerned that we will be recognized by someone who once knew me and Semjaza will be told that we are here.
At least Jared's plan keeps us from having to purchase a tent and make a home among the tent-dwellers. They have all returned home and we would not have been able to stay another night in their tent.
But I am concerned about the cost. Living in the city will leave us destitute in a short time compared to the self-sustaining life of the tent-dwellers. I am almost afraid that Jared will suggest that we approach Tubal-Cain and ask for accommodation. Because I fear that Naamah's misery is entirely my fault. Had I stayed, her future would have been very different indeed. And Tikvah's marriage to Semjaza only increases my feeling of guilt.
But Jared surprises me. The city is much quieter today. He takes us right back to the centre, the marketplace and the home of Semjaza. We pass by Tubal-Cain's shop but there is no sign of him, though people are coming and going from the building. A small sign on a door of one of the other buildings says, “Room to rent. Inquire within.”
Jared nods with satisfaction.
“How did you know?” I ask.
“I had a dream,” Jared explains, pushing the door open. I am still standing in the street. A dream? I would like to know more. But my husband is already in the shop, a pottery store, inquiring about the room. The proprietor tells us it used to belong to his son, but his son has left for one of the settlements to set up his own shop. He wasn't expecting to rent the room to two people.
“We only need it for a few days,” says Jared.
Why is he so confident? I look up at him, but his eyes are on the proprietor who is nodding slowly.
“OK,” he says slowly. “Might as well make some money.”
Then Jared is paying him and we are being led up a tiny staircase. These new buildings are not as spacious inside as the old ones that used to line the market. The giants must have their own places to live.
I barely notice the narrow room with its single bed, I am so eager to talk to Jared. As soon as the proprietor closes the door behind him, I am opening my mouth. But Jared speaks first.
“I prayed to Yah to bring this to a conclusion,” says Jared. “Our place is back at our settlement. Not here. Tikvah will never find happiness here.”
“But Jared . . . ” I feel cold and scared.
Jared holds up his hand.
“Hold your peace, Baraka. I have heard things I wish I never knew. This must end and it must end soon. I have never asked Yah for anything.”
“The price might be higher than we are willing to pay . . . ” I sit on the hard bed and put my face in my hands.
“The price Tikvah is paying is higher than she realized,” Jared says, going over to the small window and opening the wooden shutters. It looks down into the marketplace and right across at the balcony where our daughter was married.
Jared returns to sit with me on the bed. We both just stare at the balcony. My daughter entered that building a queen. What has she become now?
Something makes me certain that Jared will have his prayer answered. But Yah is a holy God, a righteous God, and I cannot think that this will end well.
Darkness comes to the small room. Outside, the marketplace gets quiet. We finish the last of our provisions, purchased the day we encountered Qayin.
Across the marketplace, in Semjaza's structure, lights start to come on. Some rooms only have diaphanous curtains and I gasp when I see the figure of a woman pass by one of them. But the longer we watch, we become aware that this building is home for Semjaza's brothers and their wives and children too. Many of the shadowy figures are giants.
I do not see anyone who might be my Tikvah.<