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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Then I Wished to Die




The waxy white scales of my blindness persisted and remained unexplained, the questions unanswered. The only explanation given was the bird droppings, sparrows they told me, but were they charmed to act thusly against me? Were they a curse or a spell against me by some jealous enemy? There are ways to charm the birds of the air as well as the beasts of the field. The necessary elements are easily found and the words of the spell are common enough and simply spoken.  These questions remained unanswered as my eyes remained sightless.

During the whole time of my blindness I was supported by family – first by my nephew, Ahiqar, until he moved away to Elymais (where they spoke an unknown and forgotten language), and then by my wife, Hannah. She made a living for us both, though by the wisdom of that “all-virtuous” ben Sira, there is wrath and impudence, and even great disgrace when a woman supports her husband. She made a living for us with her woman’s work, with her weavings.  She delivered what she made to her employers, but what designs did they employ her to weave? This was another lingering question. What patterns did they commission her to create? What shapes? For curses and hexes may be drawn as well as spoken, and what can be drawn with pen and ink on paper, or with salt on the floor, or paint (and blood) on the wall, can also be written in the weaving of a cloth, a binding magic that is strong and difficult to break. Blind as I was, I could not warn her of these things.

Now it happened on the SEVENTH day of the SEVENTH month- Dystrus, of the Macedonian calendar – she delivered the woven web of her work to her employers; they paid her in full and, as a bonus, gave her a goat for the hearth and the meal.

When she brought it into the house where I was, it began to bleat, loudly and incessantly, and to bounce around the room, knocking into pots and walls, and chairs. Suddenly the room was overwarm. I felt faint. I stumbled and fell to the floor. I KNEW that the goat was no gift, but a satanic operative sent to mock and torment me. A familiar spirit, the goat of AZAZEL, sent back to from the desert with the stink of sin on its horns. In its loud bleating I heard it speak cruel and nasty things. It tapped out blasphemies in code on the floor with its cloven hooves.

“Where did this beast come from?” I shouted. “Return it at once. Return it. Three times I say, Return, lest we be tainted with its evil, defiled by its presence and pestilence. It is stolen, isn’t it? Taken from its rightful place. Return it. Return it, for we have not right to what is not ours.”

“It is not stolen,” she shouted. “Not stolen, but given to me as payment for the cloth that I weave.” But I did not believe her. I was blind and could not see, and I did not believe her. I was ashamed and red in the face, too weak to repel and too blind to resist.

Hannah reared and roared, “What good is your goodness? And what reward do you have for your reputation? Can we eat it? Can we eat the food you’ve given to others? But we can eat this goat.”

And then I wished to die, to be released from the earth and to return to the dust.

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