Saturday, July 26, 2014

I stare at the unfurled thing, utterly speechless

At the height of the lunar cycle, when the moon grows full once again, I give in to temptation. I go out onto the roof, where I hope, in vain, to catch a glimpse of her. And just as I start agonizing, asking myself how long can our secret be kept silent, an interruption occurs. 
My bodyguard, Benaiah, comes out. I want to believe that he knows nothing about me except what orders I give him, and how I want them obeyed. 
When he comes to a stand near me I spot a note in his hand. I recognize it: this is the same little papyrus scroll I sent with him that first time, a month ago, but she must have sealed it anew. 
I break the seal and then, then I stare at the unfurled thing, utterly speechless. It takes just three words to get me into this state. 
In long, elegant glyphs, Bathsheba has written, simply, “I am pregnant.”


The correspondence between David and Bathsheba is the invention of artists, whose mind was tickled to imagine how the two lovers communicated to try and prevent a public scandal. Here is the work of two great artists, Rembrandt's Bathsheba at her bath, and Picasso's version based on Rembrandt's. Compare how he makes Bathsheba lean forward, emphasizing her keen attention to the letter, and how he plays with the patterns so that the entire space is abuzz with energy. He also crossed her legs the opposite way, just because.

Rembrandt, Bathsheba at her bath

Picasso, Bathsheba at her bath

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2 comments:

  1. Beautifully written...the story of David and Bathsheba.....although I just read the above excerpt and not the entire volume...

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    1. Thank you so much Vijay, so glad you enjoyed my writing!

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