Gender: Male Age: Secret Location: N/A
|Introduction: I have re-edited and re-posted this story as the first one had vanished; so come and enjoy the story of one who follows her mother-in-law on faith into a new land, and a new life; Up front: there is no sex in here, so if you are looking for that alone, I advise you move on|
My people, I am Jaabir of the prophets; I am he who has been called as judge and priest of the Eternal One, who watches over us all. On this day I have called all of you to come and gather around, to hear the tale of our ancestors and learn the wisdom and lessons contained within. For I tell unto you that of one who was of a foreign land and yet chose to sacrifice everything and come unto our nation, to be a stranger in a strange land, out of dedication to another; by her dedication, by her faith in the Eternal One, she won a place in the history of our people forevermore and so it is her tale that is told today…
In the time before the first kings, our people dwelt in this land which had been given to us as an inheritance by the Eternal One. A time of testing and tribulation befell our nation, and all of the nations which encompassed about us. The skies remained barren of clouds and the rains failed to come. The earth turned hard as iron and life became difficult for all beings, man and animal alike, as the famine continued.
The prophets of the day spoke unto the people and declared that the famine came upon them all for having turned away from the Eternal One, from his laws and ordinances, and for not repenting of their sins, and not turning away from the evil they do daily one unto another. The people gathered for ten years at the Holy Tabernacle in the wilderness and implored the Eternal One to forgive them and turn his great wrath from their land. Sacrifice after sacrifice they offered up, until the very ground trembled from the blood thus shed, and yet the people refused in their stubbornness of ways and hearts to truly repent and turn from their vile ways.
Lawlessness became rampant and the people did as they saw fit unto one another. Blood was shed with ease between tribe and tribe, family and family, and brother with brother. Many became little more than beasts in their own nation, and life that was made hard by the famine became nigh impossible to live.
One man departed from the region and took his family unto the distant land of Providence which remained untouched by the famine. This man was Ekram, and with him came his wife Nina, and his sons Maha and Tulaha. It saddened their hearts and souls to leave their home, and yet, they held onto the hope of faith in the Eternal One to see them through this time of great trial, until the day arrived for them to return.
For ten years Ekram and his family prospered in Providence; in that time his sons grew into the fullness of manhood, and took each one maiden of the land unto himself as his wife. Maha was wed with Orphita, and Tulaha was wed a year later unto Roopah. Both of his new daughters brought much joy and happiness unto the heart of Ekram, and yet he longed for his true home; yet he prayed his heart out unto the Eternal One and hoped that the day would come when he would see Bet-Lechem once again.
Sadly this was not to be; for in the ninth year of the famine, advanced in his years, Ekram slept and passed from this world. Nina and Roopah grieved long and hard for the departed man, a grief that multiplied all the more for Maha and Tulaha passed from the sickness which drew blood from their lungs as they coughed and labored long for breath.
Of Orphita, nary a word passed her lips when, in accordance to the customs of Providence, she had grieved for her husband for three days. For Roopah, her heart was broken and she mourned long and hard, and wailed prayers for the dead unto the twelfth day; all who passed the household proclaimed that her grief and loss were true of one who had loved deep and lost much. Many feared that Roopah would take her own life, and had their hearts lifted when they saw her among the hills and streams as she tended to the flock of goats as her husband Tulaha had done.
Unto Nina, the people of Providence testified, “You are blessed in full Nina, to have a daughter such as Roopah. For even in her grief, she labors to provide for you and for Orphita.”
Here me my people, for in the fullness of time, our nation turned their hearts back unto the Eternal One, and in full measure repented of their sinfulness. In His mercy, He forgave them and healed the land; though His prophet’s word was passed for the children of the land who had scattered to survive, to once again return and settle in their proper home. And so it was by one prophet that word came unto Nina, Roopah and Orphita.
Being long in years, Nina desired to return unto her home in Bet-Lechem. Once there, she would declare the fate of Ekram and her sons unto their kinsmen; yet she despaired with great pain in her soul, for there was no son of hers to inherit the land of Ekram, nor could she anymore provide an male heir to continue the line of Ekram so that it would not perish forevermore from among her people.
Before the month had passed Nina decided the time had come for her return. So it is that on the eve of her journey she called unto Roopah and Orphita to attend as she explained her great decision.
“My daughters,” Nina said unto them, “ten years ago I, my husband and my sons came to Providence. We sought to escape the famine which consumed our home; and in this land of our refuge my sons found you Roopah, and you Orphita, which gladdened the hearts of me and my man Ekram. Yet I no longer have my sons or my husband, and the time of the famine has now passed. I am old, and long to see my home once again before I settle into the sleep of death. The journey will be long and hard for me, yet I will, with the blessing of the Eternal One, make it home again. I leave with the first rays of the dawn and will not look away from the end of my journey.” Nina smiled at Orphita and Roopah, and noted the troubled look upon Roopah’s face.
“Roopah my dear,” Nina said as she placed one hand on Roopah’s shoulder, “you have always placed the needs of others ahead of your own. Your heart is good and true, and shall have no trouble finding another husband here in Providence. I though, am too old to find a man, let alone have children from him as a married couple of your age will in the fullness of time. I long to return to my true home, and when my own time ends, to be buried among the bones of my ancestors.”
“Nina, do not speak of making this trip alone; I am going with you,” Roopah said unto Nina; she would not brook any other outcome. Roopah prepared to say more, only to hear Orphita speak on the matter.
“As shall I Nina, as shall I,” Orphita declared though her voice quivered in dread. She feared the unknown world away from Providence; and did not desire in her heart to leave all she had ever known, or longed to know of the greater world.
Nina placed one finger upon Roopah’s lips to silence any further protest. “You honor me Roopah, more than that of Orphita. Once again my daughter Roopah, I know that your heart is true and good, but your place is here, among the people of Providence, and not among my own in Bet-Lechem. For there you will be a stranger forevermore, and never trusted or accepted as an equal.”
Roopah held her peace and nodded unto Nina. She took her mother-in-law in a strong embrace of affection and of farewell, while Orphita simply bowed her head unto Nina, gathered her meager belongings and returned to the household of her mother. Not once did Orphita look back upon Nina or upon Roopah, and was gladdened to not have to leave her community of Providence.
When the dawn came Nina looked upon Roopah as she slumbered and prayed to the Eternal One for her future. She donned her cloak and travel bag, took up her staff and left the home she had known for so many years; not once did she pause to look back, for she knew if she did, she would return unto Roopah and never depart again.
Many of Nina’s neighbors came to bid her farewell and good fortune on her journey. Some came with small gifts of oil and bread, one a second cloak and yet a third gave unto her a bundle of nuts and berries. It saddened her to leave such kind people behind as she pushed onward. After a mile or so had passed under her feet Nina came to behold a lone figure waited for her under the shelter of a large tree. Unto the tree was tied a lone mule burdened with bags and bundles upon its back.
Nina sighed and shook her head and walked over to confront Roopah. “Roopah, I said unto you, your place is in Providence. I am returning home to declare the fate of Ekram and my sons, and to find rest among my ancestors when I pass on from this world. Get back unto your proper home; you have no future in Bet-Lechem, for again, you will always be accounted as a stranger unto them. My final road is long, and will not be easy, yet it is a journey I must undertake; but not you Roopah, go back unto your mothers house as has Orphita as I bade you last night.”
“No Nina, I will not abandon you. On this, no matter what you say I shall not relent,” Roopah said as she crossed her arms over her bosom, and held fast against Nina’s orders. “I am going with you, and I will not be denied by anyone. I have already said my farewells to family and friend; your home was the home of Tulaha, and thus it is in his memory I must go there and declare his fate, as you are to declare that of Ekram. So long as you walk among us in this world, I will be there with you.”
Nina moved over to the tree and untied the mule, handed the harness to Roopah, and said unto her: “Roopah, dear Roopah, do you understand what you have chosen to do? Have you considered all which you may suffer and the strife you may cause in Bet-Lechem? I ask this of you, are you prepared to eternally be a stranger among my people?”
Nina’s expression turned hard as iron as she spoke more unto Roopah, “I have no more sons who can become your husbands and provide children to ensure the line of Ekram. None of my kin will have you, a stranger in the land, as his wife; nor will you be permitted to adopt a male child and raise him in the name of the line of Ekram. This is to be the judgment of the Eternal One upon me for some sin I have done and do not know of – I am to see the line of my husband die out after fifteen and more generations.”
“I am still coming with you Nina and I will not relent. If I do not do so, then the memory of my husband will haunt me forevermore; it is for his memory, and for you Nina that my heart is committed to see this through. I am with you on this travel Nina, and I do not intend to turn to the left or the right, we go to Bet-Lechem and I will not be moved to do otherwise.”
Nina began to speak, determined that Roopah shall go back unto Providence. Roopah declared unto her in a voice which carried unto the heavens and the hills, “NO! Nina, may the Eternal One get you to understand what I have declared to you more plainly than with anyone else.”
“You are my sole surviving family now,” Roopah began, “for when I married Maha I departed my mothers house and came unto his; for in this way do a man and wife come together as one in one household. Orphita chose to return unto her mother’s household and I wish her well in the years to come. Yet I am of your house Nina, and thus will not abandon you come what may.”
Roopah put her hand over Nina’s heart and tenderly stated, “I am your daughter Nina. I have been since I wed Maha, and I shall be long after you depart from among us in this life. I declare this unto you, and unto the Eternal One; your home is my home, your people are my people, where you go I shall go. This is the way it is to be, for you follow and serve the Eternal One, as I do.”
Roopah sighed and shook her head, for Nina became silent and slack-jawed in shock. She led the mule further down the road and paused, turned to face her mother-in-law who stood still as a great and unbending oak, and bade of her, “Are we going home my mother, or do you intend to stand there all the spring and summer to be a home for birds or bees?”
Nina laughed and joined Roopah who shared in her laughter. Their hearts lifted in joy the two women began their long journey home to Bet-Lechem.
There it is Roopah, not much has changed since I have left, and yet it is new again with so many faces and voices I do not recognize.” When Roopah gasped and began to tug upon their mule Nina turned and gazed upon a band of Bet-Lechemites who gathered to come and investigate the strangers who came unto their community. The men approached wary but not bent on aggression, and they called out to the women for their names to be known.
Nina began to declare her name and heritage in Bet-Lechem when one man paused and stared at her with keen interest. Roopah stepped back and clutched her staff tighter, fearful that the man meant harm unto them – only to relax again as the man called out “Can this truly be who I behold, she who left with Ekram all of those years ago unto a far land? Nina, is it…can it be…is it you after so long of a time?”
“Yes Nathadell it is me, the one who once was called Nina in Bet-Lechem.” Nina shook her head in despair and continued to speak, “I am Nina no more, for the Eternal One has dealt with me very bitterly and has taken my husband and sons from me while we have been gone from Bet-Lechem. Instead of Nina I should be called Marah for the bitterness left in my heart at their loss.”
Nathadell smiled at Nina and shook his head, “No Nina, you are not to be called Marah, for I see no measure of bitterness inside you; only one who we long assumed lost in a far off land, and who has been restored unto us again, along with her hand maiden…” Nathadell gestured to Roopah and became confused when Nina chuckled. Those gathered around the women chuckled as well as Nathadell shook his head and continued, “…along with your daughter-in-law or daughter who is named…”
Roopah looked upon Nathadell and bowed her head to him out of respect and declared, “Good Sir, I am the widow of Tulaha, son of Ekram the husband of Nina. I have come home unto Bet-Lechem which my husband called home, and to support my mother-in-law Nina unto the end of her days.”
Nathadell smiled at the response of Roopah and nodded at Nina in approval. “Roopah, widower of Tulaha, I give you welcome to enter Bet-Lechem with Nina. May the Eternal One bless you and sustain you in the help you give unto Nina.” Those gathered around Nina and Roopah cheered and gave thanks and praise unto the Eternal One.
Nina turned to Roopah and smiled, then hugged her and declared, “Welcome home Roopah.”
And so, it came to pass, that Nina and Roopah completed their journey to Bet-Lechem in the early spring as the barley was being harvested.
One evening as she ate with Roopah, Nina noticed the troubled expression which had befallen her daughter-in-law. “Roopah, my daughter, something is bothering you. Deny it not, for I can see it in your eyes and by the way you sigh and stay silent. Tell me all, and if I can help, I shall; for our home is nearly restored with furnishings and swept clean. We even managed to chase off that troubling mouse which has outsmarted the two of us for some time…”
“It’s none of that Nina,” Roopah said and sighed as she pulled her legs up against her bosom. She rested her head upon her knees and continued to speak, “We have worked so hard this last three weeks to restore our home; and I love it here, being in a community of people instead of near a community and having to wonder if brigands or animals would descend upon us in the night. In the market I finally managed to sell that stubborn excuse of a mule; his price brought us enough oil, flour and such as we need to eat upon for a month, plus the materials I need to begin making baskets for selling. But the barley harvest is here, and I cannot be sure of our future…”
“Ah, now I understand why you have been so troubled.” Nina placed a hand upon Roopah’s shoulder and said, “I believe you meant to say, my future, did you not Roopah? I am old and you are concerned about what will come of me if anything happens to you; this speaks well of you my daughter, for you always have placed others ahead of yourself. Do not let your heart or soul be troubled though, and tomorrow morning, go out into the fields and glean of them as the reapers proceed.”
The confused look on Roopah’s face caused Nina to chuckle. “Roopah, long ago our people were instructed by the Eternal One through His prophets to care for the poor and needy. They are allowed to follow the reapers and glean from that which has fallen to the wayside. Quite often, many of those who own the fields will keep one-tenth or more to allow for the poor to come and harvest within. So there will be no problems for you to do so; yet as you are still new to most people in Bet-Lechem, ask of him who is in charge of the reapers for his blessing to glean behind them.”
“I will do so Nina, and thank you.” Roopah hugged her mother-in-law and kissed her upon the forehead as she appreciated Nina’s wisdom and gentleness.
With the first rays of the dawn Roopah headed unto the fields and came to glean after the reapers. By chance she worked in a portion of the field owned by a man known as Brajendra, who was close kindred to Ekram.
Brajendra came from Bet-Lechem unto his fields to see how the harvest proceeded, and said unto the reapers, “The Eternal One be with you and bless you this day.” They answered unto him, “The Eternal One bless you.” He turned to the headman in charge of the harvest, and at length they discussed matters of business that pertained unto it; and his eyes fell upon Roopah, and he inquired as to who she was.
“The maiden there is Roopah, she who has come unto Bet-Lechem with Nina from Providence.” The headman said to Brajendra, “She has been gleaning from the field since this morning. She asked for permission to follow the reapers among the sheaves: from the morning until now she has been at work gleaning without pause, and has caused no trouble or distraction in any way.”
“I am glad to hear such of her,” Brajendra declared and walked over to Roopah with the headman. He said unto her, “My daughter, do not go and glean from another field, nor go from here, but stay among my maidens. Do not stray from them, or from among the field where they do reap the barley. I have charged the young men they are not to touch you at all; and when you are thirsty, go and drink from the water which had been drawn for us all.”
Roopah bowed her head unto him, afraid, and asked of him, “What have I done to find such mercy in your eyes my Lord? I am not but a stranger to you, and yet you acknowledge me here in the field as if I were one of your own maidens?”
Brajendra answered Roopah, “I have heard all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband: of how you left your family, your homeland, and come unto my people, a people you never had known before. On this day, may the Eternal One compensate you for you work and dedication to Nina; and may you be granted a full reward by the Eternal One of our land, under whose wings you have come to trust.”
Roopah bowed her head unto him and replied, “Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for your words have comforted me, and for the fact you have taken it unto yourself to speak to me, even though I am not one of your handmaidens who labor in the field for you.”
Brajendra said unto her, “When we stop our labor for our meal come over and eat with us, share in our bread and of our water.” He made it known unto all what he had said unto Roopah, so none would try to deny her of the meal. At the time of the meal Roopah joined them, partook until she was sufficed and asked of Brajendra to be excused so she may return unto the fields. Brajendra nodded for her to do so, and after she had departed turned to his young men and commanded of all, “Let Roopah glean from among the sheaves, and let fall ‘on accident’ some handfuls of the harvested barley stalks, so she may glean them. She is not to be rebuked for doing this, by no one.”
“Remember all of you, this harvest has been granted to us after ten years and more of drought by the Eternal One. It is still the custom of our people to let the poor and needy to glean the edges of the fields; so it is that Roopah has come not for her sake, but for her mother-in-law Nina.” Brajendra witnessed the nods of the men and maidens, as they had heard of the devotion shown by Roopah as she attended to Nina. So it came to be, as the harvest began that the men and maidens did as they were instructed by Brajendra.
Roopah gleaned in the field until the evening arrived, and beat out that which she had gathered. To her delight she discovered her effort had yielded nearly one half-bushel of barley. She took it up and went into the city; and unto Nina she presented all she had gleaned from the field.
Nina shook her head in amazement and gave thanks and praise unto the Eternal One. “Where have you gleaned to gather such an abundance this day Roopah? Who has such an abundance of their fields to provide so much after the harvesters have passed? Blessed is he who showed such kindness this day, for he must have noticed you and instructed his harvesters to leave extra of it in the field for you to gather.”
Roopah said unto Nina, “His name is Brajendra, and he directed me to stay among his handmaidens to ensure that I would not have the young men bother me in any unbecoming manner. He also declared before all the young men and maidens I may glean of the fields where they work unto the end of the harvest.”
Nina broke out into thanks and praise for the Eternal One, for He had answered her greatest of prayers. “Roopah, he is the near kin of Ekram. I had feared that the kinsman of his had perished in the famine. It is good, and Brajendra speaks with wisdom here as well, that you go out among the handmaidens. For in this way, all shall come to see how good of a person you are, and soon you will truly be one with us in Bet-Lechem.”
Roopah stayed among the maidens when in the fields unto the end of the barley harvest, and then was invited by Brajendra to glean with them unto the end of the wheat harvest. In her labor and at rest, in all she did, the people of Bet-Lechem learned the virtue of Roopah’s heart – for she always placed Nina’s needs before her own, and soon they came to accept her as one of their own.
One evening Nina and Roopah shared dinner and Roopah noticed the troubled countenance of her mother-in-law. She asked of Nina, “I can tell you are troubled by something, will you share this burden of yours with me and we can lessen it for you together?”
Nina smiled and nodded. “Roopah, my daughter, as you know I am advancing in years and have not many left in this land. I am concerned about your future and desire that you have a husband who can care for you. Brajendra, he is close kindred to my late husband; consider how he has allowed you to glean from the fields, and ensured that no man would trouble you, insisted you glean with the maidens? I have learned he ordered his men to leave an extra amount of the harvest for you to glean for the two of us each day. He is one of honor, generosity and of a good nature.”
Roopah looked unto Nina and bowed her head, for she had seen the wisdom of Nina and knew this to be the best for her future. “Tell of me what to do Nina, and it shall be done…”
“Brajendra is winnowing the barley tonight on the threshing floor,” Nina said unto Roopah with a smile. “Wash yourself good and anoint yourself with a bit of perfume, and dress in your finest clothing. After this, go down to where he is at but do not let him know you are there at that time. I have been told that after his work is done for the day, he partakes of his dinner and then slumbers among the threshed barley to safeguard it from thieves. Now then, when he lies down for the night and is asleep, go in unto him, uncover his feet and lay yourself down. When he awakens, he will tell you what is to become of you.”
Roopah nodded her head and said to her mother-in-law, “I shall do so Nina, I shall do so.”
So Roopah went down unto the threshing floor and did all in accordance to the instructions of Nina. When Brajendra finally slumbered she went unto him, uncovered his feet and laid herself down.
Upon the arrival of the midnight hour it came to be that Brajendra startled awake from a nightmare which left him shaken and his breath hard and labored. “Only a dream,” he said unto himself and shook his head to clear the evil images of the nightmare that remained. As he turned to gather his cloak about himself and return unto sleep he spied that a woman lay at his feet.
Unable to discern who she may be, he softly whispered and asked, “My lady, who are you?” He watched her sit up and bow unto him as she answered, “My Lord, I am your handmaid Roopah. I ask of you, please, if you will spread your cloak over your handmaid as you are a near kinsman.”
Brajendra nodded and said unto her, “May you be blessed of the Eternal One, my daughter: for you have shown more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, in that you did not follow after the young men, rich or not, for gain of their affections or gifts. Now come and sit beside me, as I wish to hear more about you in your own words; for this night I shall not be able to return unto slumber.”
Roopah smiled as she moved to his side and he wrapped his cloak about the both of them. Through the depths of the night, until the moon had set and yet before the day would dawn from the east, the two spoke with one another.
“Dear Roopah,” Brajendra said as he looked her eye to eye, “I ask of you, do you and your mother-in-law Nina wish it of me to redeem the land of Ekram so that it shall not be lost as an inheritance forever?”
Roopah blushed and shyly turned her head away from him for a moment, then softly said, “Yes my Lord Brajendra, I and Nina wish for that to be done as you are the closest kinsman alive to that of Ekram. Nina has told unto me that by this means, the first born son I have by a husband will be given all that had been Ekram’s as his due inheritance, and be of that line so that it may never perish from the tribes of our nation.”
“That is true Roopah, and fear not, for I shall do for you all that you and Nina wish: for all the city of my people know that you are a woman of honor and of virtue. Goodness is manifest in your deeds, and wisdom in the way you conduct your life and honor with your kindness and helpfulness unto your mother-in-law Nina. Yet we have one matter that must be attended to first of all,” Brajendra said and held his hands before him to halt the question she was about to speak.
“There is yet a kinsman who is closer unto Ekram than I,” Brajendra sighed and started to shake his head, for he knew how long and much that kinsman desired the land of the late Ekram. Then he paused, looked upon Roopah and grinned. “Dear Roopah, it is time for you to depart back home unto Nina as you must not be seen here with any man; for no harm or ill must befall your reputation. I will go this morning to meet with the kinsman and see if he will do his part as the closer kinsman. If he will, then it will be so. If not, then I shall happily do so.”
Brajendra watched Roopah don her cloak and prepare to leave when he made a decision.
“My dear Roopah, please linger here for a moment more while I gather a gift for you and Nina.” Brajendra gathered up six sacks of barley, nearly three-hundred pounds in total, mounted them upon the backs of two mules and presented them unto Roopah.
“My Lord Brajendra, thank you so much…” Roopah suddenly became abashed and turned her head away as her cheeks flushed from a sudden heat deep within.
“Go now Roopah, before the first men come unto here this morning and discover you here with me. I will not have anyone sully your reputation and again promise unto you, if the nearer kinsman of Nina will not redeem the land of Ekram, then I shall do so and will take you unto my home as my lawful wife.” Brajendra escorted Roopah unto the edge of his property to ensure no harm would befall her or the two gift-laden mules.
“Return home Roopah and tell all to Nina what I have discussed with you,” Brajendra said and as a last thought gave unto her a pouch containing a hundred count of silver coins. “Keep these for times when they are needed Roopah, and use them wisely, for they are a gift and free of any claim or recompense upon them.”
Roopah smiled as she neared tears at the generosity of Brajendra, and then she departed unto home.
Nina waited through the night until Roopah returned, and gasped in awe at the sight of her daughter-in-law as she led two sack-ladened mules. She ran unto Roopah and clasped her in a hug and asked, “Who are you to be my daughter?”
“Brajendra has pledged to marry me,” Roopah had to hush the surge of joy which erupted in Nina, “however there is one matter to be dealt with by him first, for there is a nearer kinsman…” Roopah declared all that had occurred between her and Brajendra and his gift of the bags of barley, the mules and the silver coins freely given unto Roopah without obligation.
“Oh my Roopah, oh my, we are blessed by the Eternal One,” Nina declared. “Brajendra has demonstrated his true self in such generosity from the heart. He is a man who fears the Eternal One and seeks to do what is right and just and true. I now know that Brajendra will do as he said without rest until all is finished this day; and I do not put it past him to have devised a cunning scheme to ensure he and you will be wed instead of the nearer kinsman.”
Brajendra went up unto the gate, and sat himself down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Brajendra had spoken of came by; unto whom he said, “Ho, such a one as I have need of seeing this very day! Come here my good man and sit with me, for we have a matter of importance to discuss this very day.”
The kinsman, whom is called Jandar, nodded and settled himself down before Brajendra.
“Brajendra, of what is such importance that you deem it needful to speak unto me?” Jandar asked of the man.
Brajendra did not answer Jandar immediately, and instead, he called to ten Elders of the town and bade each one in turn to be witnesses between himself and Jandar.
“Fear not Jandar, for no wrong has come between the two of us or any of our family; I say this unto you for the look of concern which I behold upon your face.” Brajendra held his peace for a moment as Jandar regained his composure and nodded unto his kinsman in thanks.
“Jandar, my dear kinsman,” Brajendra stated, “From ten and more years of time in the distant land of Providence has Nina, wife of Ekram, returned unto us. She wishes to sell a parcel of land, which belonged to your brother Ekram: and I thought it best to advertise this fact unto you, so if you wish to purchase the land in question you may so declare your intentions before the inhabitants who pass through the gate, and before the Elders who I have called to bear witness to this deed.”
“If you find it in your heart to redeem the land; then redeem it; but if you will not redeem the land, then I ask of you here and now to so state, so that I may know. You are closer kin by blood than I to the belated Ekram, and thus may redeem the land for your family before anyone else.” Brajendra asked of the Elders to witness that the offer had been made unto Jandar freely and openly with no cause of duress before all in the light of day. The ten Elders so stated, and waited in turn as Jandar debated the purchase of the large lands once held by his late brother.
“Good Brajendra, a question first, if I choose not to redeem the land, who will seek to purchase it after me?” Jandar asked. He suspected Brajendra wanted the land to increase his already numerous lands and further bind the people of the community unto him and him alone. “Who covets the large amount of land when so much is already held by one man who sits here before me this very day? Or is this offer to redeem the land truly made in accord to the traditions of our people?”
“The Elders around us have already born witness to the fact that there is no duress upon you and here in the open light of day.” Brajendra looked upon Jandar and continued to speak, “So why do you make such subtle accusations about the land? Or is it that you ask these same questions Jandar for the covetousness of your own heart, for it has been well known how you have eyed the land of your late brother for the ten and more years he has been gone.”
“I have desired the particular parcel of land for some time, and openly at that, so it is no secret to anyone,” Jandar said. He smiled and nodded his head unto Brajendra, turned his face to the ten Elders and declared, “Witness this day that I, Jandar, brother of the departed Ekram declare I will redeem the land in his name…” he held his next words at the soft cough of Brajendra and turned to see that the man had an embarrassed look upon his face.
“I had forgotten one other trivial matter Jandar, in concerns to the land being redeemed,” Brajendra declared. “Your brother Ekram had two sons, the youngest Tulaha had married and died before begetting children by his widow, the lady Roopah of Providence. As per the custom of our people, upon purchase of the land you also are obligated to wed Roopah, the widow of Tulaha, so that the first child born unto you is dedicated to the line of Maha and the land shall pass unto him upon his reaching maturity.”
Jandar closed his eyes and sighed, for he had forgotten all about Roopah, the daughter-in-law of Nina. By custom of inheritance among the tribes and families, his first born son would inherit all of his estate; moreover if this son happened to be the issue of Roopah of Providence, then the male child would inherit Jandar’s lands, and any that he had redeemed in the name of Ekram.
“I cannot redeem the land then Brajendra, my fellow kinsman,” Jandar stated. He would not risk the chance of his own lands being claimed by a male child from Roopah, before one came from his own wife. “I so state this before all the people who pass through the gate, and unto the ten Elders gathered to witness this between us.” The ten Elders and the witnesses who heard the words of Jandar declared the veracity of his words.
“If you will excuse me then Brajendra,” Jandar said as he began to arise, “I have my work to do this day…”
“Please Jandar, linger a moment more, for my own work here is not done at this time,” Brajendra said and waited until Jandar had seated himself again. Brajendra took off one shoe and presented it unto Jandar, for this is the custom of the land when a man redeemed the land of a departed kin: he presented as a gift and as a testimony one shoe unto his nearest neighbor before the Elders of the community.
“I, Brajendra, declare that I shall redeem the land of Ekram and marry his widow, Roopah of Providence, so that the first male child born of our union may inherit the lands of Ekram, but of my own as well. So let the Elders and the people gathered here bear witness before the Eternal One and let it be done.”
The ten Elders and people who heard the words of Brajendra affirmed their veracity before the Eternal One.
And so Brajendra turned unto the Elders, and unto all of the people present and declared to them, “You are all to be witness of this day that I have bought all which belonged to Ekram, and of Maha, and of Maha, of the land duly inherited of Nina. Moreover, Roopah, the widow of Tulaha, have I redeemed this day as my wife and promise as is our custom, to raise our first son as the lawful inheritor of the line of Maha, so that the name of our dead may never be cut off from among his brethren.”
Brajendra ceased his words and waited for the Elders and the people present to make their declaration for or against him and his union with Roopah. The Elders and all the people at the gate declared unto him in one voice, “We are witnesses. May the Eternal One let the woman that is to come into your home like Michelle and Mirrim, from whom our nation was built; and let the Eternal One bless you and your house unto prosperity unto countless generations to come.”
This being done Brajendra turned to face Nina and bowed to her, then unto Roopah and did the same. “Blessed Roopah, I have, in accord to the customs of our people, gathered the Elders and the people who passed through the gate to be witnesses unto us both. You have travelled far, and became a stranger in a strange land; declared that where Nina went you would follow and have done so out of dedication to her. You have demonstrated in deed to be a woman of virtue and graced by the Eternal One as a lesson for us all. I declare to you, the love of my heart, that you no longer are a stranger in a strange land; for you are now of our people, and of my family.”
Roopah watched as Brajendra held his hands palm-side up before him; she did as Nina had instructed, and in accord with tradition, placed her own hands palm-down upon his. Both closed their hands together as one, and the Elders blessed the couple and declared unto the community that they are now married.
“My wife, my love, the delight of my heart and soul,” Brajendra said unto Roopah as he bowed unto her, “let us go home now.”
My people, and so the union of Brajendra and Roopah came about; and in the fullness of time she brought forth for him a male child. The women of Bet-Lechem came unto Nina and declared the birth of a male heir so that the line of Ekram would not vanish from among the people; and in accordance with the custom of the land, they asked of Nina, widower of Ekram, what the name of the new babe of his lineage was to be named?
Nina declared unto them the name given to her in a dream the previous night, “Obedah, his name shall be Obedah, for from his descendants shall come a line of kings, and in time shall come he who will redeem the world and all within it.”
So it came to pass my people that Obedah fathered Sunadi, the great kind of Haranah, and in time from Sunadi shall come He who is the Redeemer of the world.
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