It was getting cold. Soon, there would be snow. Christmas was just around the corner. It would be the first Christmas she would be celebrating with Rehoboam since he had moved to London and the first one she wouldn’t be spending with her parents. Ever since Rehoboam and she told the family about their relationship and their decision to get married, after raising vehement objections, the family had stopped talking to them.
Last year June, no one except his cousin, Rekha, old and new friends and colleagues attended their wedding. And when their son was born, healthy and beautiful, none of the family acknowledged his birth. They didn’t call or visit or anything. Tamar had emailed photos of the baby to her parents, cousins, etc. and Rehoboam had done the same but there was no response. It was tough, heartbreaking. Tamar was in tears. “I can understand them not talking to you and me but to treat an innocent child like this, it’s–it’s unforgivable.”
Rehoboam had taken her in his arms and hugged her tightly. “I know it hurts, Tamar. They don’t want to acknowledge our marriage because we’re first cousins. As far as they’re concerned, our son was conceived from an incestuous relationship. To accept him would be like accepting our marriage and they can’t do that.”
“You, I and our baby are like a shameful secret that they want to bury deep.”
“Our family is very religious. They believe that our marriage goes against God’s Word.”
“The Bible doesn’t say anything about cousins. It talks about fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, etc. but I don’t recall it mentioning anything about cousins.”
“Remember my mother quoted Leviticus 18:6 which says, ‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord’. That includes cousins.”
“I guess it does but what about Esau who married his uncle Ishmael’s daughter or Jacob who married his cousins Leah and Rachel?”
“I guess it was fine then because there was not supposed to be any intermarrying with the other nations. Abraham and Isaac didn’t want their sons marrying women who worshipped other gods so that’s why they thought it best that they took wives from among their relatives. It was to keep the bloodline pure and idolatry out of the family. We don’t have any of those restrictions now. You and I were free to marry other people who shared our faith.”
“Are you sorry you married me?”
“No, Baby. I’m not sorry at all. You’re the only woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
“Oh, Re, I love you so much. I’m just sorry that our love has caused a rift in our family which I’m afraid will never be mended.”
“I love you very much too and I’m sorry that our family can’t accept that we were meant for each other.”
Tamar shook herself out of her reverie, opened the mailbox. There were bills and flyers. Then, she saw the birthday card she had sent to her mother. The bold printed words, “Return to Sender – refused” jumped up at her.
Tears welled in her eyes. She couldn’t believe that her mother would return the beautiful card she had taken a painstakingly time to choose. She had wrestled the decision to buy one because of how things were between her and her family. She couldn’t imagine not sending her mother a birthday card. She had given her one with a present every year. If she were still in Toronto, she would have included a bouquet of daisies, her mother’s favorite flower. Rehoboam had encouraged her to send the card. She had even wanted to call her mother on her birthday but she knew that she wouldn’t talk to her. So, the card would have to suffice and now, here it was, rejected just like her baby was rejected.
Angrily, she brushed away the tears, slammed the letterbox shut and went inside the house. She tossed all the mail down on the table in the foyer. Her mother’s card, she took to the kitchen, tore into pieces and tossed into the garbage bin under the sink. Then, she got busy getting lunch ready while Rehoboam was upstairs putting their son down for his nap.
When he joined her in the kitchen, she told him about the birthday card. “Can you believe it?” she exclaimed. “She returned the birthday card I sent her. How could she? How could they call themselves Christians and they’re treating me-us like this? Where’s their brotherly love that they profess to have? They don’t have the love of God or Jesus in them. They don’t have the Holy Spirit in them. They aren’t real Christians. How could they be when they’re acting like this? Well, I’ve had it. I’m not going to send any Christmas or birthday cards anymore. I’m not to call them or anything. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”
Rehoboam watched her as she moved quickly about the kitchen, busying getting things ready for dinner. He could tell from her movements and the expression on her face that she was extremely upset. “What did you do with the card?” he asked quietly.
“I tore it up and threw it in the garbage.”
“I’m sorry, Tamar. I know how much this is hurting you and it’s all my fault.”
She stared at him. “Why is it your fault?”
“Getting married was my idea. You had reservations because of our family and the law regarding first cousins marrying.”
“Yes, I had reservations but they went away because I couldn’t imagine my life without you. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with any but you. Don’t blame yourself for how our families are treating us. We just have accept that they are never going to have anything more to do with us.”
Rehoboam didn’t answer. When she was doing cooking. He set the table while she shared out the food. They sat down and after he said a prayer, they ate. They didn’t talk anymore about the returned birthday card or their families.