Tamar lay still in bed listening to the sounds of chirping birds on the nearby trees. It wasn’t evening yet and the day seemed to move by quite slowly for her. She had been called in by her husband Onan. She had left her chores midway to come please him at his request. But then here she was; lying on bed after the aftermath of their copulation and still felt wary of herself. There was something definitely wrong. This was not what the womenfolks talked about whenever they talked about sex. They always had this look of fulfillment, satisfaction. Call it whatever it may be but definitely not what she was feeling right now. She knew that she was missing out on something.
This was her second marriage. She had been a virgin when she had been given into marriage. Her relationship with her first husband hadn’t been much to talk about. She had barely known him when he passed away. They had had only a few days together. But then as the Jewish custom will have it, She had been given to the next-in-line brother, Onan to continue his heritage. This is because she had no children with her first husband. Here she was having these same thoughts going through her mind and heart. It was a feeling of déjà vu. She signed.
She got up from the bed and rustled through the crumpled clothes on the floor looking for her cover cloth. She found it and covered herself. Silently stepping outside so as not to wake her sleeping husband. She made her way out. The air outside was quiet cool as it hit her. She hadn't noticed the tears that had spilled down her face amidst the thoughts that run through her mind. Quickly, she wiped them away and scurried to continue her chores and help the other women in the house.
She tried to make sense of all that was happening to her but words were not enough to explain them. She was beautiful in every sense of the word and yet she didn't feel womanly enough. Womanhood; the pride and joy of it seemed to elude her. Which woman after being married to two able-bodied men was unable to get pregnant. Yet she also knew it had nothing to do with her. How do you explain the secret matters of the bedroom to another person? It was as if the men had disgust for the thought of her carrying their seed. How do you call a woman into your tent to sleep with her with the sole of purpose of satisfying your need and have no regards to the need of the woman?
To her; a whore was of much better value than her. At least, they had something to show forth for their labor. Something to prove the substance of their trade. At least that was more honorable. But here she was; she had nothing. Absolutely nothing!
A S-C-R-E-A-M broke though her thoughts terrain. Followed by a heart wrenching wail. Her heart skipped a beat as she ran towards the source of the scream. It was coming from Onan's room. She ran towards the room.
She was shaking as she reached it and entered into the tent. What she saw before her confirmed her fears. It had happened again. Onan dead! She broke down and began to sob. “Not again!”, she cried. Wailing, she felt she couldn't take it any longer. Judah, her father-in-law came for her. He took her outside the tent . He took her to the women so she could be consoled.
But no, not this time. No one could console her. Her grief was beyond reason. Her grief was made much worse as the thought of the stigma that was associated with it stared at her in the face. For the second time, a man she was married to dies.
The next few days were quiet a drudgery. Like a forlorn woman, she could barely lift her head. She couldn't move around freely without bumping into someone who beheld her with pity or the other one ; mockery. She preferred to be alone rather than to seek the company of her women folk. The gossip, the stigma, it was just too much.
She would often cry unto the God of her forefathers and yet that was when God decided to remain quiet. Judah as her father-in-law preferred to avoid her - who could blame him. Having lost two sons to the same woman, his grief was also comprehensible.
The father of the tribe Jacob was known as a man with a deep connection with the God of the Universe. A man believed to be blessed by God had no words of comfort for her either. Or to even explain why she has faced this fate.
Based on Genesis 38
Based on Genesis 38