ZOE (The missing Seal)
Written by Amah
It was a big market day, her father and brothers sat in the city gate with other men. Drinking and getting merry over their sudden turn of wealth.
People carried their different wares to the market to sell and buyers from far and near were seen all around the market place, negotiating and buying things.
All Mukans wares was sold so fast without much negotiation and it has been so ever since Zoe came back. He does not struggle to get anything. Everything just come so easy for him.
Mukan did not count the years as it pass, all that matters to him was his fortune.
Is been seven years already and Zoe still serve in her father’s house while hoping and waiting for Shelar to grow and for Lord Amos to remember and keep his promise to her.
She was in the goat boot with her mother right in the market, waxing and cowing the goat hair into wears. Her father made her to work fast and hard since business has been good.
She was kept very busy while her mother sat and stitch the sun, moon and stars into a red gown. The gown was beautiful and has a veil and her mother have been busy for long working on the dress which belong to her sister.
Every year her mother made different colorful dress for Zoe’s sister who was a priestess in Timnah, she has always wanted to be a priestess and her father was in support of that.
She was living her dream and her father and mother makes sure they supply everything she needed. They always package different dresses and gift for her and send them to Timnah through her brothers.
Mukan sometimes grumble at the cost of the materials meant for his priestess daughter but he always release enough money whenever the time to purchase the materials, veils and other gifts arrives. Mukan wanted more of the favor of the gods which he somehow believes was part of his good fortune and he never fails to please his daughter in Timnah.
Zoe’s mother sat beside her and work in silent. It was an imported beautiful material that she was working on. She also makes an anklet which the priestess wore round her leg and a roll of tiny bells that makes a beautiful sound.
Though Zoe wore her mourning garment until the thread was falling off by itself she did not complain or wish for the glamorous life style that they were pouring on her sisters. She was satisfied with her widow garment and whenever is beyond repair she begs her mother to plead to her father for money so that she can purchase a new widow wear.
Her father will always grumble and will take weeks before he will release the money which was not even much. Zoe’s cloth covered her from head to toe. She was not use to fancy or beautiful wear. She feels comfortable with what she was given.
It was a big market, filled with merchandise. Zoe displayed her craft and people came to bargain and buy from her. She was quick to sell off all she made and handed the money to her money. Her father wanted her to be the one selling because she seem to be very fast and also very favored in selling wares. After selling her hand knitted goat skin caps and farm jacket which she made out from animal skin she will start up with another one without wasting time.
“I’m going to need more blue and red thread…I thought I had enough to finish this sash belonging to your sister. Go and buy more for me…be quick about it because I need to finish this sash today so that it will be ready for your brothers to take it to your sister in Timnah…
Zoe left to buy the thread as her mother instructed.
She walk past booths displaying baskets of figs, pomegranates, grapes, jars of olive oil, honey and milk, tray of ostrich eggs, skin of wine, bows of spices from eastern caravans. Beautiful cloths and foot wears were in display. Zoe who hardly have the opportunity to go round like she was doing saw it as an opportunity to browse through the market.
She smile at the children playing hide and seek. Some other children played around their mother as they hawk their merchandise.
Zoe saw older widow in different booth sitting and relaxing while their sons and daughter in-laws conduct business.
Zoe felt depress as she watch another older widow laugh at the joke of her children and they all seem happy.
She breathed deeply and walk past them to where she purchased the threads for her mother.
She walks past people selling handmade gods, teraphin, wooden and clay, in different shapes and sizes.
She quickly remembered Lady Samar and wondered if she was still burning incense and displaying her gods in every corners of the house.
Zoe noticed two young men coming behind her. One of them was handsome and looks so familiar. She looks restless and dejected as they face her.
She frowned and wondered if the one that looks so familiar was one of her brothers’ friend who visits them in the house.
She stood and looks at them while they approach. As they came closer she realized that it was Shelar.
Zoe was shock at how grown he has become. A full grown man with a boasting bears and broad shoulder. His friend was a young Canaanite, almost same height but Shelar was head taller than him and handsome just as Kuwe.
Each of them had a wine skin draped over their shoulder and they appear drunk.
Shelar swaggered the narrow road filled with people, he bumped into a man and shove him aside. He laugh out with his friend.
Zoe couldn’t seem to move as she watch while trying to calm her racing heart while they came closer to where she was standing. The friend noticed her and called Shelar’s attention to where she was.
“Well, well…look at her Shelar. The poor widow can’t seem to take her eyes off you…she likes you already or maybe she want something from you…hahahaha.
His friend laugh and Shelar looks at her.
“May the gods forbids it…I have no business with a widow. What do I need a widow for when there are alot of fine maidens of the land who grovels at my feet? Heyyyy….you…stop staring at me. I did not kill your husband, you are beautiful but I have far more beautiful maiden who have never been married wanting me look at their side. Your husband must be feeling all jealous in his grave right now, watching his lovely wife looks at another man with desires…hahahaha. Go and mourn your husband and stop gushing over me, I’m too busy to notice your type…
He pointed at her and said the last statement and his friend kept laughing and they walked pass her.
Shelar bumped into another woman displaying a handmade clay gods, the woman rushed to guard her wares but most of them shatter on the ground and break into pieces. She cursed bitterly at him and they kept laughing at her
“Let the gods save their selves…you are selling handmade gods and still protecting them from crashing to the ground. So pathetic…why do you sell a god that obviously needs a protection…hahahaha. Foolish people everywhere…get out of my way woman…
Shelar mocked the woman and she cursed them even more, they kept laughing at her while walking down in their drunk state.
It was shocking that Shelar did not even recognize her. He has grown to be just like his brother Kuwe.
Arrogant and contemptuous.
Zoe fought the anger and despair filling her as she watch him.
Lord Amos had never meant to keep to his promise.
He broke his promise to her and will make her wear a widow garment forever in her father’s house.
If her father dies what will become of her. She will have to beg her brothers for bread or glean in a stranger field, do all manner of meanest job just to feed. That is not the kind of life she wish for herself or for anyone. A life of no future and no hope. Lord Amos has forsaken her, he lied to her. He promise to keep to his promise now Shelar was all grown and has become a man yet he did not remember her.
Zoe ran all the way down to her father’s booth where her mother was waiting for her.
“You were gone all day, what kept you so long. I told you to hurry that I needed the thread quick but you took forever to get here…
“I’m sorry mother, the thread woman was stubborn about the price and had a lot of customers to attend to…so i…I waited for her…
Zoe bent her head in shame. She hate to lie and whenever she tries it never comes smooth. Her mother notice her discomfort and asked her.
“I know that wasn’t true because you are not a good liar…tell me what happen? Is something bothering you?
Zoe found her voice and spoke out her pain to her mother.
“Mother I’m just tired, tired of endless wait…tired of hoping that Lord Amos would keep his promise but he never did…tired of the barrenness of a useless life I found myself in…
She took her mother’s hand and clenched upon them. She needed a wise counsel and the only person she can trust was Hadar. Her mother does everything to please her father but she has been nice and caring to her.
Zoe knew she was getting old in her father’s house and her years of conceiving a child will pass her by and she will remain childless for the rest of her life. Her father was wealthy enough now to get enough servants but he was satisfy with what he has and pushed more work to her feet. She sometime needs help but she dares not complain otherwise her father will remind her of how Lord Amos abandoned her and he has to be the one taking care of her. He will remind her that he was right from the beginning that Lord Amos will not keep to his promise.
“I wish things were different….but I don’t have any right to complain. Do i?
She left her mother side and went back working. Her mother did not say anything.
After the market was over, the booths were dismantled, her father and brothers came in time to load the donkeys. It was a long walk home and Zoe did not talk about seeing Shelar until she was home.
And the only person she told was Hadar.
“I stood right in front of him and he did not recognize me…he did not know I’m the one… he just mocked me and walked pass with his friend…
“Zoe, you were a young girl when you entered Lord Amos house. Now you a full grown woman…it shouldn’t surprise you that he doesn’t remember that you are his brother’s widow and would have been his wife if Lord Amos has kept to his word.
“Which means I will have to remain a widow forever…Lord Amos never wanted to keep to his word…he lied to my face….what do I do now?
Hadar gently drew her into embrace.
“Is always hard for him to do the right thing…don’t blame him. Shelar is his only surviving son and he was doing all he could to protect him. Whatever fate awaits you…I will always be here for you Zoe. I have great faith in you that you will not mourn forever.
They stayed awake and talked into the night.
To be continued (Comment pls)
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