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Episode 5.

Abel traveled the following day. He traveled to the master’s Port to supervise an ongoing project there, and he won't be back till after five weeks.

 I'll really miss him while he's gone.

When Zity didn't need me, I helped other slaves to work around the house.

When Vim had his friends gathering party, different dishes were prepared and I was among the maids that served the guests. I noticed he was looking at me.

When I took the tray of spiced gizzards to him, I knelt down, which was normal but he didn’t pick any immediately. When I looked up to know if I could leave, I noticed he was looking at me. This made me jittery and my hands started shaking, which made the tray to almost fall off my hands.

 He noticed my discomfort and quickly dismissed me...

When I was out of his sight, I took a deep breath. I wondered why he looked at me that way and why I felt quaked at his gaze.

Meanwhile, Zity laid in bed that morning and didn’t bother to get up. I prepared her bath, yet she remained glued to her bed. I instantly knew that something was bothering her. She had not been her usual self since yesterday. So, I went to her.

“My Lady, is there any problem? You have been in bed since morning and it's past your bath time..."

“I can’t seem to get him off my mind, he looked as if he was truly carved out from Mars… Since that day, I had been thinking about him..." She shockingly said out loudly

”Who could that be, my Lady?" I asked quietly

“Chakan, that’s what he said his name was, the handsome young man we met at the museum. I think I’m in love with him. I don’t care what Zain is going to say, but I want to see Chakan again. I could have told him my name when he asked but I wasn’t interested in him at first, until I got home and remembered the way he smiled and looked at me. He said my beauty was like that of Aliah, the goddess of beauty. I have heard people say that to me but Chakan said it in a way that gladdened my soul... He looked at me like I was a goddess. I need you to go and search for him, either at the museum or anywhere. When you see him, tell him that I sent you to him. I'll give you a note to give to him and some money to go to the merchant, who deals in jewelries close to the museum. Tell jewel dealer that I need a neck gold jewelry with goddess of luck inscribed on it. Also, buy another one so that I can replace the one I gave to Zain. If anybody, be it my brother, Vim, mother or father sees you and asks you where you're going to or coming from, just tell them I sent you to the jewelry shop. Don’t ever mention Chakan to any body… Do you understand? Make sure you find him..."

I quickly left as she ordered me. I went to the museum and searched everywhere for Chakan but there was no sign of him. I went to the temples of their different gods and goddesses, I stood outside and waited as people trooped in and out, yet I didn’t see Chakan. I went to the market and different places, Chakan was nowhere to be found. I went back to the temples hoping he would come and worship but when I didn’t see him, I decided to go home.

On my way home, I saw Vim riding on his chariot with his friend. Before I could hide myself in the crowd, he saw me. He looked at me and I bent my head. He passed without a word.

I quickly ran to the jewelry shop and bought all I was asked to buy before heading back home.

Immediately I got home, I saw Vim standing outside.

“Where are you coming from? Why were you at the temple of twail, the god of thunder and storm? Do you worship at the temple of twail, because that’s the god that most men worship? Didn't you notice that women were hardly seen there? There are so many female gods and goddesses you can choose from. What did you want in the temple of a god you were not in need of, or did you go there to pray to twail so that he could send thunder to strike your enemies? Are we your enemies? Did you go there to worship or what? Speak up!" He barked angrily at me

” I… I, no, my lord... I didn’t go there to worship… I lost my way. I was going to…buy jewelry for lady Zity..." 

I brought out the jewelries to show him as evidence.

Zity had warned me not to let anyone know about Chakan which was the main reason I was at the temples.

"...here are the jewelries my Lord. I don’t have enemies…"

“Everybody have enemy.. most especially a common slaves. Run ahead now... I think Zity needs you. You can ask other slaves the gods and goddesses they worship, if you're looking for a deity to cling to."

I bowed and ran off. My heart was beating as I got into Zity’s chamber, who got up from her seat the moment she saw me enter her chamber. Her face lit up joyfully.

”Oh Tamar... I have been waiting for your return, I know the gods most have favoured you... What did Chakan say? Did he smile when he read my letter? Tell me... I’m eager to know... Speak up now..."

“I couldn’t find him my Lady, I searched everywhere and went to all the temples but there was no sign of him, I also..."

Before I could utter another word, she struck me hard on my face, then another heavy slap landed on my cheek. She cursed me and threw a wooden carved god close to her at me. She asked me to disappear from her presence and I did, as my forehead bled from the wound she inflicted on me.

She had sounded a serious warning on finding Chakan and said I shouldn't come back until I find him and give him the letter but unfortunately after all the search I couldn't find him and had no choice but to return back which landed me into a serious beating

I went to the out- house and washed my bloody face.

I later came back and sat close to Zity’s chamber after attending to my wound, waiting for her to summon me, if there was the need for it. It was until midnight that she called me into her chamber and asked me to tell her a romantic story.

As soon as I started, she shouted at me to stop.

”I have heard that story before, how many times do you want to tell it? I’m tired of all your stories, they're becoming boring, everything about you is becoming boring! I asked you to go and find Chakan and you still couldn't carry out that simple task. Get out of my sight now!"

I went to the fountain that night, where Abel used to sit and pray. everyone in the house, both slave and free born were all asleep at that time of the night. There was a full moon, and I had no one to talk to. 

My heart was very heavy as I pulled off the shawl on my head. I knelt down and spread my hands wide and started speaking to God...

“My strength fails me... I lack words to describe how I feel. I derive strength from Abel, Now, he is on a journey.

God, I’m grateful for this household you brought me to, but serving Zity can be difficult sometimes. I don’t know how to reach her, I have told her all the Bible stories that father and mother use to tell us, I don’t have any again to tell..."

I sobbed quietly and continued,

"... I really miss Kath, Deb and Joe. I miss father and mother too. I need your help to remain strong... Help me God. Help me through every difficult time, help me to see you in all I do. I kneel before you with my hands spread wide for you to see me truly, I'm withholding nothing from you Lord... Fill me with your love and help me to know you more. In my weakness, please be my strength; when I’m afraid help me to remember that you're always with me, I live for you Lord, only you, not the different gods of this land, I worship you Lord… I adore yo…"

”What are you doing out here by yourself… By this time of the night? while everyone sleeps, kneeling with your hands spread wide? Your hair shines as bright as the moon, crying out to an unknown god... What god do you pray to?"

I was shocked, startled as I saw Vim. I quickly stood up and covered my head with the shawl. He was standing under the Moonlight in his night wear. 

I startled even more as he came close to me. I didn’t know what to say or do at this point


Episode 6.

“You're supposed to be attending to my sister’s needs, not being out here alone, serving an unknown god..." Vim scolded me.

He paused and stared at me for a while

"..You have grown so big, compared to the time mother bought you for Zity;  you're adding curves to your slender waist. Even though you wear those big clothes, I still notice the changes. those lips of yours look so succulent. You're growing into a beautiful woman unlike your first day appearance here. your hair, hmmm, I've not seen them before until tonight, they shine brightly under the moonlight. Come with me to my chamber, my body is yearning for you..." 

He tries to touch me i quickly take a foot away from his closeness.

Vim urged me not to be afraid and come with him to his chamber.

he mind my discomfort even after he noticed that I was becoming very uncomfortable.

"...I have begun to want you after watching you for sometime and I know you also want me because no woman has ever said no to me, they usually beg me to touch them, kiss them passionately and set their entire body on fire. women from royal families and beautiful maidens of the land, even married women beg me to look at them. They scream at my touch and when I lay with them…" He stopped and scuffed a little..

 "...Well... I've not been able to sleep all through the night, I thought it was because of the hot weather and I decided to come out here for some fresh air but I was shocked to see a human figure kneeling at the fountain and when I got close and realized that you were the one, I just knew the gods had smiled on me tonight. They have blessed me with a maiden for the night, who will help me to quickly fall asleep after warming my bed and my body. Your name is... Tar..mar? Whatever it means, I don’t really care. come with me to my chamber, let’s keep each other warm throughout the night. I promise that you will enjoy every bit of me and even ask for more. Zity won’t be needing you until daybreak, you'll return to her before the second cockcrow… Come…" He persuaded me, but i was reluctant and remained pin to the exact spot I was standing

As Vim got closer, I noticed he was way too strong, taller and was huge too in size. He can choose to size me up with his large arms.

 My head was covered and remain bent.

I was afraid as he gently pulled the shawl off my head and it carelessly fell to the ground.

 He combed his hand into my hair, took a handful of It to his nose.

He caresses my neck roughly as he forcefully drew me closer to himself.

 He raised my head up, urging me to look into his eyes. 

I went cold as he touched me, I was scared. It was past midnight.

Everywhere was dead quiet

Except sounds coming from the water fall which was covering up the noise from Vim

What's am I going to do now? I thought within me and silently began to pray that he wouldn't hurt me. 

I tried to pull myself out of his grip, but his arm was strong. When he raised my chin and I looked into his eyes, all I saw was lust.

He was lusting after me and was ready to do anything to make me oblige

I escaped rape at the slave cabin, God will not allow it to happen now that I thought I'm safe.

Lust was written all over Vim, He bent to kiss my lips but I quickly turned my face to another side.

 At this time i was shaking all over. I cried out to God in tears in my mind to save me

I prayed silently, as one of the Psalms I learnt from Abel was ringing like a bell in my head. I couldn’t remember all the Psalms at the state I was, so I began to recite the few I could remember:

“For the Lord will hide me in His pavilion in time of trouble; no harm will befall me, the Lord will send his angels to hold me in their arms so that I will not strike my feet against a stone; as mother hen protects its chicks so also the Lord protects His people from the wicked..."

Gradually I started finding my boldness and began to sing different Psalms silently.

My lips kept moving, I began to pray any psalm that comes to heart to Vim's hearing.

I was suddenly unafraid of him

Vim in a flash, pushed me away immediately he noticed I was muttering prayers.

He pushed me hard from his arm where he was holding me

I fell with a heavy thud on the ground.

 I grabbed my shawl, covered my hair and stood up.

 I moved away from his reach and watched him from a distance as he boiled with anger. 

I wasn’t afraid anymore because I felt God’s angels all around me at that moment

”Are you praying to your unknown god to strike me dead? Was that an incantation? What god do you pray to? Why do I feel like the hairs behind my head stood? So, your so called god came to fight for you. Hahaha! Your god thought I wanted to devour his little virgin girl, so it decided to blow that bad air behind my head? Are you a witch? Do you know what we do to witches here? We bury them alive. But I know you can’t be a witch because I heard you pray like a Christ..ian... wait, are you a Christi..?No!!! It can’t be. Is not possible, not in this house. Having a Christian under my father’s roof, in this land? is not possible because the Christians know what is at stake for them and anyone that steps into this kingdom denies such faith and chooses any god or goddess of the land immediately, just to avoid being killed. My father is a second prime ruler, the kingdom can not do anything without consulting him, he is part of the rulers that make rules and laws of the land. I’m just giving you a tip, or rather reminding you of what awaits Christians. Now, tell me the god you pray to. Are you a Christian? Answer me right now slave..."

Even though I was unafraid, yet wisdom made me to keep mute as I kept staring at him.

 I thought of what Abel would say if he was confronted with the truth right in the face of danger. 

He would pray Psalms, I concluded.

" Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, though war rises against me, yet will I remain confident...” 

That’s what Abel would've said.

 I began to say it even more out loudly to myself.

“...I shall not be afraid of evil even in a strange land filled with idols, for my heart is steadfastly trusting in the Lord. God is my protector, my defender in time of danger, he will never leave nor forsake me.."

I said it loud enough to his hearing, he moved closer to me again but there was still a gap as he stood looking at me...

”You seem to be bold, unafraid and so zealous; that’s what Christians foolishly do, yet I have not seen their god save them as they're being fed to the circuit lions or even when they're hung on a stake to make a public show of them at the entrance gate. Their god never saves them. If you take a walk to the entrance gate, you'll see their carcasses, dead bodies hanging there, it serves as a warning to others. their unseen god never saves them even once and neither do they get a decent burial. Christians are so foolishly blinded by their belief that even after seeing all the punishment that their fellow believers get, they remain stubborn and adamant. You better choose a god among the gods of this land, there are a lot if gods to choose from. I don’t want to believe you are a Christian, Tamar. neither do I ever want to see you out here praying to an unknown god while everyone sleeps at night. You can give your virginity to your god I don’t care, or to Abel because I have often seen you around him. You seem to be fond of him, but no matter what you do, Abel will not lay with you, I've known him all my life. He practices celibacy, and nobody knows the god he serves for sure. Rumour has it that he is a Christian but he never agrees, neither did he deny the allegation when he was confronted, and nobody dug deep to know the kind of god he serves because father likes him and doesn’t want any harm to befall him..."

Vim paused and looked towards the water fall

 "...Abel maybe impotent because he never get entangles with any maiden, even after he was given his freedom he refuses to go and start a family of his own. So, if you're saving your virginity for him you better think twice. Abel loves his strange god and his job, he won’t make the kind of love I will make to you if you let me. I have not seen any woman that says no to me. Listen to me and listen well, I don’t care whatever God you serve but I never want to see you out here at this time of the night ever again, do you understand? He bellowed at me

“Yes, my Lord..." I replied respectfully.

”Good! I’m glad you still remember I’m your lord, now return to your duty post which is to serve my sister..."

I walked past him and returned to Zity’s chamber. I thanked God for saving me from Vim’s strong arms and not exposing my strong faith which may have led to disaster. 

Wisdom was indeed a principal thing., as recorded in the book of Proverbs. 

After four days, Zity got information of where she could find Chakan and quickly left. 

I went with her and stood at a distance as she and Chakan hugged and talked. 

The following day, she was out to meet Chakan again and they sat in a hidden place and I watched Chakan kiss her for a long time before leaving her. 

She blushed as he kissed her again.

She started going out almost everyday to meet Chakan in their secret hideout, where they couldn't be seen.

Back at her chamber, all she talked about was Chakan, she was obviously deeply in love with him and wished she would be allowed to marry him when the right time comes.

After sometime, when Zity turned seventeen, news came that her father, Lord Reese was arranging a wealthy man for her to marry.

Zity cried her eyes out after hearing the news, she refused to come out of her chamber and locked herself inside.

Vim still looked at me strangely, he was mostly around unlike before. 

Even even when his friends came visiting, he stayed within the house and entertained them. 

He hardly go out unlike before and had never bothered me again after the first encounter with him at the fountain that night.

I never told anyone about it.

I wished Abel could come back, I truly missed him. I prayed for him every day.

I'm no longer afraid like before, not even after Vim’s threats. 

I become bold, I avoided going to the fountain at night but I still found a way to talk to God quietly.

Everyday, I looked forward to having Abel back. I felt happy and secured when he is around, I wished he can return soon because it was almost a year that he travelled.

I need him mostly now that Vim was acting strangely around me, making me uncomfortable with his looks, and to worsen matters, Zity would soon be married off to a rich man.

one of her father’s friends who lost his wife many years ago.

The man had only one son named Chakan, Zity’s secret lover.

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