In ancient times that were ancient then and even more ancient now, the city of Be’ersheva- Mother of Sheba, the city of Abraham, Father of the People, the City of Seven Wells, was a place of importance and a centre for trade, as is the case wherever an oasis springs up in this dry, unworkable place. The city seemed old but it also seemed new, for it was both of these things to at least some people, at least some of the time and it moved and swayed and throbbed, shimmering amongst the already shimmering desert beside an ever-more shimmering oasis.
This was a place that clamoured with a mixture of joy and severity. A place where all kinds of people from miles around met to trade and catch-up. ‘Oh, yes! This is the first time in a long time, friend!’ ‘So good to see you, so good, and your daughter?’ A meeting point for people who had been travelling to discuss their plans and decide where-to-next.
It was in this city that a man and a woman met and fell in love, as men and women are bound to do.
The woman of this story was an Amira, a princess, of the important Ai-Hawa, tribe of the wind, who met cyclically in Be’ersheva to buy and exchange goods of all kinds. The Amira Ai-Hawa, was an unhappy princess. She longed to be as free as her name and on one particular trip to the city she decided she would go for a walkabout apart from her family. So Ai-Hawa followed her father to the market place and waited until he was safely engrossed in business talks and then slipped away into the crowds. Ai-Hawa passed through Be’ersheva’s expansive and bustling market. There were fruit, vegetable and textile stalls in abundance. She ran her fingers through baskets of grains and pulses, all the while remembering to watch her head for hanging baskets hanging high, and fruit and vegetables that tumbled like acrobats from containers on poles. Old men smiled, laughed, squawked and cooed like birds and monkeys and as they laughed pomegranate pips fell from their mouths, landing at her open toed feet.
The man was Abiel, the son of an equally important family, known colloquially as the House of Many Doors and he was affectionately known by the people as the Prince of Closed Windows because of his mother’s over-protective nature. Now Abiel was a grown man he wanted to be as free as the wind that called at his bedroom window and so he began to seek this freedom in the town’s baths and opium dens. It was in one of these particularly reputable establishments that shortly after leaving her father Ai- Hawa- overcome with intense curiosity- found Abiel totally benumbed upon a sofa. And wellaway! The pair beheld each other in the way that two beautiful people behold one another. And wellaway! They began to speak like young lovers do, saying thus and thus.
Abiel said, ‘Young Amira, let us not beat about the bush, will you marry me? For if we make haste it can be done in a matter of days!’
Ai-Hawa laughed and said ‘a matter of days? Your people surely don’t marry in the same way as ours!’
‘Then how?’ he asked.
‘Like this!’ she replied and lay down on the mattress beside him laughing still. She looked at him deeply whilst they caressed for a very long time.