It was not easy growing up in the kind of setting which I did; surrounded by so many brothers.
sometimes I wished I was born a male child; well you will feel
the same way if you had a mother like mine.
She made me feel being a woman was a plague and only a few women like her sister were the lucky ones.
I watched how she struggled with insecurity and inferiority over having to compete with her sister for their husband’s love.
I enjoyed hearing the story of how she married my father but the pain I saw in her eyes was what I never wanted to go through.
With tears in her eyes, she would recount how she was adorned and covered all through the ceremony to avoid the groom from suspecting the truth.
She would smile amidst the tears, telling me the words Father
said in the dead of the night thinking he was with his beloved, words she wished could be said to her, words she longed to hear every day after her identity was revealed.
I grew up watching my mother live her life trying to win her husband’s love. All she wanted out of life was to match up to her sister, to make him love her like he loved her sister-Racheal.
I wanted something more from life, I wanted to be free, wanted to run into the mountains without having to win anybody’s heart.
I didn’t want to convince anyone to love me, all I wanted was to make my own decisions without having my family make them for me.
Surrounded by many brothers it wasn’t easy to feel free, sometimes I forgot I was a woman and my roles were different.
I would spend hours with my brother enjoying the
protection and care they showered on their only sister, I did not want to end up like mother, I did not want to feel the pain she felt.
It felt good to be loved by my brothers, but deep down my heart was far away. All I dreamt was a young lady dancing under the
moonlight happy and free.
My dreams became a reality when we moved to shalem, the city of shechem. The landscape and environs were what I saw in my dreams, I would lay in my tent at night while others were asleep enjoying the songs coming from the other side of town, I longed to see them dance and sing along. Shortly, I started humming
the melody after many days of listening.
One particular night I sneaked into the night following the sound of the music but hearing footsteps I turned to find my stepbrother
Joseph behind me.
The look he gave me was enough to make me decide to go back
home and sleep. Then I started seeing other young ladies come over to our tent, they were different from us, their way of dressing was unique.
It made them look graceful, their eyes were filled with
brightness and they would laugh at any slight comment, they made me see what I was missing, the life I had always dreamt of, there was no fear or pain in their eyes.
They were happy and free, I even heard that they didn’t worship any God. unlike us, they had no restrictions or commandment stopping them from doing whatever they liked or enjoyed.
Soon I began to feel I was in the wrong place, all I wanted was to be at the other side of town, to leave with this free people, dance with them and enjoy life as they did.
A perfect opportunity came when there was a ceremony that will require all the maiden in the land to dance before the young men, my new friends told me that the son of Hamor, the chief would be there and it could even be a lucky night for a maiden if she
gets chosen to be his bride.
With excitement, I decided to be part of the ceremony and
you can imagine how I prepared for it.
Later on, I wished I had told someone how I was going to spend the night or I should have taken someone along with me but I totally forgot to take any precautions because I was overwhelmed with the fun I was going to have that night.
On the day of the ceremony, I danced my whole soul out, without thinking of who was watching me and where I was.
I poured my whole being, swaying my body to the music
and laughing at the same time, then I discovered that everywhere became silent.
I saw a man walk up to me, trying to dance along, then the sound increased again but this time around I was carried away.
I knew something was wrong when the door was locked and even when I screamed for help, I knew it was useless.
Then it was over, I remembered the pain in my mother’s eye when she said only the lucky ones get chosen by a man who loved them.
I was chosen but by the wrong man, I wept all through the night and somehow I felt the affection of the man beside me and
even though he told me he loved me and promised to marry me, I knew things will never be the same again.
I had a glimpse of hope when he came for my hand in marriage and
even decided to allow his whole community to go through the rigor of being circumcised to be qualified to marry women from our community.
I silently told myself that I was better than my mother and felt proud of my achievement.
Little did I know the plans, my brothers had in mind.
It was a horrible night in shechem, for years I didn’t get over the screams and voices of women who had their husbands killed without having the strength to fight for their lives.
I laid in terror beside the man I was beginning to accept as my fate lying helplessly with a look I can never forget.
It was a grievous night, my brothers came up with a flimsy
excuse for their actions but it was easy for them to move on with life, I never recovered, never danced again, my dreams were shattered and if you happen to hear my name mentioned again, it was to warn other maidens not to make the mistake made.
Writer’s Note: Many times, we struggle with what if’s and questions that we believe will liberate us but it only takes us farther away from the answer we really need giving us a glimpse of what was never
meant to be ours.
I am tempted to really pity the woman in my story, she made a mistake but I find myself believing perhaps things wouldn’t have gone so wrong if her brothers didn’t try to make wrongs
right by doing the wrong thing.
I find myself also having so many what-ifs to this story.
based on the story of Dinah
Esther Hinmikaiye wrote this piece.