Noah smiled and sighed contentedly as he heard, then felt, his wife’s arrival behind him. It was a kind of virtual thing they had developed over the years. Noah would go to his prayers while Naamah cleared the bedding and reached the tent to welcome any visitors that might call; not that they ever did. Noah’s warning all those years before had served to protect them from the excesses of those who lived around the Oasis. The mothers would not allow their children out of their homes until Noah and Naamah had brought their flocks to water. At times this saddened Naamah to see the fear and mistrust that flickered across the faces of young and old alike, as she and Noah approached with the sun rising over distant hills to water their flocks and fill their own water jars. A shiver ran through her as her mind remembered again why her husband was so protective of her. They both knew all too well the evil that some men do to women.
She had grown up in a community that loved music. The shadow of Cain that still plagued her family was rarely spoken of but never forgotten. Their destiny was never to settle too long, but always keep moving. As the Age of Man was still in its infancy, theirs was an age of new discovery and incredible creativity. Indeed it was Naamah’s half-brother, Jabal, who was the first to tame and raise livestock, not just cultivating the ground to grow plants and vegetables. Jabal was a serious young man, who yearned to escape the stares and glares of the villages they camped near. Once the animals were farmed their usefulness as sources of food and clothing was quickly developed, so too was the use of animal skins to make a more mobile form of accommodation, foldable tents. This enabled him and his family to travel further, where the memory of Cain’s curse had almost faded.
Jabal’s brother, Jubal, coped with his lot very differently. Where Jabal sulked and travelled, Jubal faced down his spiters and won people over with a new gift, the art of making music. While the stories of the Ancients were chanted in monotone around the campfires, Jubal created sounds of sublime beauty from the basic stinged harp and hollowed flutes that enthralled the younger generations. Suspicion and fear were transformed into music and laughter when Jubal was around. Naamah’s third brother was Tubal-Cain, another inventor, but one who was required, as the youngest son, to carry the name of his cursed ancestor. Tubal-Cain harvested the rocks and minerals that were so plentiful around them, mixing and shaping them into bronze, and then iron. These metals were first used as tools, much stronger and durable than the stone tools of their fathers. However it did not take long for his family to find other uses for these metals. When Jabal first explained his design for tents, Tubal-Cain realised that his metal spike, sharpened and honed to tear open the hard, dry soil, could also be used as pegs to hold the tents firmly in place. His brother Jubal, quickly saw the potential of these new metals to carve and shape his growing collection of musical instruments. And so, Naamah, as the youngest child, had grown up surrounded by creativity and invention. The days were filled with hard work, the nights with music and laughter. As she grew towards marrying age she was given the job of getting water from a nearby well and brining it back for her family and their flocks. It was thankless and exhausting work, from early morning until the sun became too hot to bear; then later again in the cooling evening she would make one last trip to the well to gather enough water to wash away the dust of the day from the tired feet and hands of her father and brothers, as they gathered again around an open fire with warm food to relax after their day.
On one such evening as she strolled along to the well she was humming one of her brother’s tunes. The setting sun spread long shadows across the darkening pathway when she suddenly felt large rough hands grab her from behind. She kicked and screamed but those who attacked her were of the tribe of Taller-men, far too strong for a young teenager who could only cry futile tears as her innocence was stolen from her again and again. When her attackers finally wandered off, their laughter haunting the night-time air, Naamah gathered herself and made her way painfully home, stumbling into the firelight as her brother was showing her father three new iron spikes he had just made for securing Jabal’s tents. An awful quietness fell upon the campsite as the full extent of what had been done to her sank in. Jabal muttered darkly that he had noticed three of the Taller-men in the area earlier that day, further more he knew where they were staying. Lamech ordered each of his sons to take an iron spike each and follow him. Her mother took the now-shaking Naamah into their tent to clean and tend her wounds.
Words were never wasted telling Naamah what had happened that night as her brothers and father accosted the three Taller-men, accusing them of their crimes and hearing for themselves their indifferent laughter. Next morning, as she emerged from her mother’s tents, Naamah noticed the three long spikes driven into the hard ground beside the firepit, thick browning liquid still dripping from the top of each spike. Her brothers never spoke of that night’s horrors again, her father could barely look at her. Her mother watched her carefully, ever more keenly as the weeks went by, until at last, an unspoken sense of relief seeped into the camp. There would be no new reminder of her shame; and yet, for Naamah, a crippling sadness hung over her for the months that followed. There was no more laughter, music was no longer played at the fireside, and Naamah was no longer entrusted with carrying the water for the camp. She was left alone most days, hidden away within her mother’s tent. The veil that now existed between her and her father and brothers wasn’t just made of animal skins, she felt as if a huge chasm had opened around her that few were willing to cross. The music that had filled her hearth and heart had died within her.