I wake up every single day gripped with anger at this so called husband of mine.
I cannot believe he did it. He lied to Pharaoh. He lied to him and gave me away. He told me that it was the only way he could survive. But that wasn’t the case. He could simply have told him the truth and they would have let us pass. And now I’m stuck in Pharaoh’s harem, like a peacock trapped in a cage. Wishing I wasn’t here. Watching my back with nobody to talk to. Pretending to know nothing but able to understand more than 6 of the languages spoken here. I hate it so much and I hate him so much. The anger, the grief, the loss, the frustration, the stagnation, the imprisonment. He’s not even suffering. Rumor has it that he spends his days in Pharaoh’s courts entertaining visitors from around the world, talking politics, and if my ears hear correctly, having woman after woman thrown at him for his entertainment. His one saving quality is that according to the ever active rumor mill, he continuously rejects woman after woman. But that alone will not earn him my forgiveness.
Some nights I am so lonely I want to cry myself to sleep. But that is a dangerous thing in this place. Any sign of weakness and the hyenas swoop in with their famous laughs and go for the jugular. You see, everything is a competition here. There is the queen – and there can only be one. And then there are the concubines and there are hundreds of those. And over and above that, at any given moment, should it please his royal highness, a maid can be called upon to service his interests. Harem – a word I have come to detest given my modern upbringing. A word that means “The Forbidden Place” and a word that I will never swallow. I have been placed in a forbidden place once again. I have been reduced to a prison where I am seen as an outcast by the “powers that be” – it’s no wonder that these women spend all their time cutting one another down. They have no sense of freedom, no sense of hope, and no semblance of control over their lives except to play petty, poisonous politics with one another’s lives and maids. Sine entering into this place, I have become the object of their attention – and that, is NEVER a good thing – you see, attention from them means venom spat in your direction in any possible way. I do not trust anyone. Not even the maid who was assigned to me, I know that she takes information to Haggar who spices it up and feeds it to her boss. I don’t eat what she serves me, I dont’ sleep in my bed without checking it thoroughly. I managed, through the favor of Pharaoh to get a secluded chamber against the wall where I am not completely in the open. There I spend most of my days in seclusion, aloof and removed from the rest of them.
Pharaoh himself is another problem. I have spent all my energy avoiding him. Initially when my fake brother handed me over, I feigned depression and a low IQ. It allowed me to study my surroundings while being treated like a brainless spoiled child hence I was no threat. Every time Pharaoh would send for me I would wail uncontrollably and feign illness or pretend to faint. I learned early on from eavesdropping that he could not stand the presence of a screeching woman and so I perfected my screech to a shrill, almost animal-like pitch. That kept him at bay for a few weeks.
Soon thereafter I introduced my menses and that bought me another week. Once I was done with that, I demanded a new wardrobe before entering his presence. I was, after all, but the lowly ‘sister’ of a rich nomad. To which he complied but instead of having the finest silks imported from Asia and Ethiopia, he ordered them taken away from the storehouses of some of the other women. This did three things: firstly it thwarted my attempt to buy a few more months. Secondly, it brought me into the limelight as Pharaoh’s newest lustful desire. And finally, (and most detrimental), it made me some dangerous enemies among the other women. Since then, I was unable to bathe with them in the public baths, unable to pretend to be harmless, and unable to hide from him anymore. With my new wardrobe now complete, he has summoned me for the festival of the new moon. He plans to pay homage and offer sacrifices to Nehebkau – the guardian to the entrance of the underworld. Hideously depicted as a two-headed snake, this ‘god’ of theirs was revered to no end and all the women had been waiting all year to be picked to help usher Pharaoh into this new night and service him for the 24hours that followed.
That he had picked me put me all the more in danger and I was wrought with fear.
I feared for my life – these maliciously vile women had upped their game and this morning I found a snake coiled at the entrance of my compartment poised to bite me.
I feared that i would finally have to give into Pharaoh and that he would have his way with me. How could I ever face my husband again as a wife and how could I ever forgive him after this? Where was his God – the great and terrible YHWH? Why couldn’t he perform a miracle and get me out of here?
And finally, I feared that I would actually see Abram again. My handsome, tall, dashing husband. The one for whom I yearned. The one I had desired since the day I had seen him (shortly before he had swept me away as his wife). I feared that I would have to gaze upon his face and watch other women dancing for him while I myself was forced to dance for his host. I feared that I would break down and that Pharaoh would find out the truth and that he would kill my husband. The love of my life. I was so full of fear that I had not eaten in two days. And now the evening was drawing closer and I just did not know what to do. And so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I uttered a strangled prayer to the God of the Jews. The God of Abraham. The great and terrible God. I asked him to get me out of this situation and restore me to my husband’s side.
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