It had been a long day, many customers had come with clothes to be sewn or mended. My only assistant had taken a day off to be with her husband who was recently recruited into the army. They had just been married for a month when he decided to join the army. My best sewing machine had developed a fault and the repairer was nowhere to be found. He was probably in a drunken stupor under the nearest parked truck. Then my cramps had come, pre- warning to my next period. I dislike the whole monthly red mess and I often wish I could escape it… legally.
I also wish Uriah, my husband, was around. He knows how to make me feel better on days like this. But he was on the battle field somewhere, dodging arrows and flying stones. He had always come back home from wars but I am sure my blood pressure has never been normal again since he joined king David’s army.
I decided to take an evening shower to wash off the dirt, stress, pain and loneliness that had accumulated over the day. We were privileged to have our house quite close to the king. The bath area was on the top floor, opposite the verandah of the palace. Uriah had not gotten round to properly fencing it but it was still the best for quick showers. I had just let down my hair when I saw him; king David.
He had always been handsome and well built, highly attractive. The best king we’ve had. He composed songs and sang them beautifully. I envied his wife. She would be blessed with loving and romantic songs from such a fine man and a king too.
(Lord, forgive me, I shouldn’t think of such things.)
I bowed in his direction. He smiled at me and went back into the room.
I put off my clothes then and proceeded to enjoy my shower. Thoughts of Uriah kept my mind busy and I smiled. This was the time around which we fixed our meetings in the ‘other room’. And boy, was he good! I said a prayer for him as I wrapped my towel around my body. That was when I realized; there had been someone watching all along.
I turned towards the palace and my eyes met his.
I could see the conflict between desire and duty, ravishing and respect in his eyes. (Wasn’t he supposed to be on the battlefield too? Or was General Joab now able to handle it all by himself?) There was warmth all over me and I felt myself trembling. (Why was he looking at me so intently?) I hurried back into the room and sat on the bed. What is going on?
The next day, palace guards came to summon me to meet the king.
King David was in a simple robe, looking very relaxed. He invited me to the dining table. While we ate a sumptuous meal, we talked. He inquired about Uriah, who he described as one of his trusted soldiers, and the children too. I was very pleased to hear all these but there was an odd gnawing feeling inside me. I could feel his eyes all over me; my lips, neck, arms, the space above my breasts, everywhere.
After eating, he took me to his chambers and I finally could not deny the obvious. He wanted me. I began to protest, mentioning my married status and his, the dishonor it would bring on us both if it becomes known and how it would so displease God. He put a finger to my lips and drew me closer to him. I have had my share of fantasies but my wildest imaginations never captured this moment. Every touch of his had an electric effect on me. I thought I was going to pass out many times. Uriah’s face flashed briefly in front of me and I quickly pushed it away. This was royal intercourse, who dared interfere?
It was quite late when I finally went back home. I kept my face veiled till I could retire to my room. I imagined that all I had done was written on my forehead. Adultery. The extra long shower did not take away this feeling.
My period took a walk that month. I dismissed it, concluding that even my period knew I needed a break from it. Besides, stress has been said to alter the menstrual cycle. I had been stressed a lot lately you know. But, when the same thing happened the next month and that morning sickness thing started, I knew I had to get to the palace. I hadn’t seen king David since that last time, not even on the verandah. I could barely look the guard in the face when I asked for permission to see the king. Of course, he knew what had happened. Worse still, this particular guard knew my husband, Uriah. But that was beside the point.
King David’s face looked drained of blood when I finally got around telling him I was pregnant. He became sweaty and panic danced in his eyes. He told me to go back and keep it concealed as much as I could while he sorted it out with Uriah. I had no idea how he wanted to do that. Uriah could drink just about as much as the other men, he cussed and swore just as much but he was too honest and faithful. His allegiance to the king was as strong as his allegiance to me despite my giving birth to only girls all these years. He knew where his loyalty was. How the king wanted to sort it out, I didn’t know. But I trusted king David’s words and felt better. The king ordered his servants to give me lots of cereals and potatoes, milk and cheese and some wine. I could swear I saw daggers in the eyes of the servants. But, they were the least of my worries.
About four days later, I was summoned to the palace again. This time, we went directly to the king’s chamber. King David looked sad and his shoulders sagged. I have little recollection of what he said after he broke the news of Uriah’s death. But, I knew. I knew Uriah was killed by the king and none other. Was this the sorting out he meant? Killing my husband, the father of my little girls, my love… I wailed. I forgot all inhibition and decorum as I held on to the collar of his king’s robe and hit his chest with my palms. I yanked at my hair and screamed till my throat hurt. I was about letting go when I remembered I was pregnant.
I am Bathsheba; widow of a murdered man, pregnant for an adulterous king, newest wife in the palace and soon to be mother of a son.
I later gave birth to a son who died within days of his birth…the punishment for the royal adultery.