(This is a story about my family. I have changed all the names
of persons because most of them are still alive.)
James Bible. "Amnon took hold of his half-sister, Tamar, and
said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. And she said unto him, I
pray thee, Amnon, speak unto king David our father, for he will not
withhold me from thee."
Olive was most depressed, more than she was angry. She had cut
herself off from all her family for the last forty years, and lived a
thousand miles away. She had never kept track of them. When she
received an invitation to visit, from family she did not remember,
her forty-year resolve weakened. Her shaky reasoning was that since
she was in her sixties, and not in the best of health, she was
allowed a little lapse in her originally fiery moral stance in the
family. She added the excuse that she did not remember these
relatives, and so she could afford to risk a little indulgence.
had been right, up until a few minutes ago after a pleasant visit for
the one whole day.
is so unfair, Selma. You should not have asked me to come all this
way to hear this." She paused, tears in her eyes. "I'm
sorry, Selma. I cannot do what you ask of me." Selma was
understand, auntie. I'm sorry I have upset you. I will never bring
the matter up again. We are at our wits' end. Our other choice was to
do as you did: run far away from all family. Please visit for as long
as you like. I will do everything I can to make you enjoy your stay."
you. Selma. But now that you have told me why you invited me here, in
the first place, our situation has become a little more difficult."
They exchange nervous looks.
tell me. I will do everything I can to lessen the hurt I have caused
you." Olive's eyes filled with tears as she spoke with
difficulty. "Thank you, dear. But now that I know, I will be
unhappy forever. The most you can do for me is to not get married to
your cousin, Obed. At least, not while I am alive."
we have postponed our wedding for seven years. We had to make sure of
our intentions. We have been to a lawyer."
you and Obed are family. It is illegal and immoral for you to marry
each other. What kind of lawyer did you go to?"
we heard you left the family over forty years ago." "What's
that got to do with it?" "When we heard you existed, and
wanted to find you, we could not find anyone who was still alive when
you left; but there were a few rumours about why you left."
was a tense short pause, during which Selma was uncomfortable, and
Olive fixed her with a cold look. "What rumours?" "They
are good rumours, auntie.
left because there was so much, and still is, diabetes in our family,
that you disapproved of anyone having children." A long pause.
"That's true. I still feel that way. I am not the only one in
the world, Selma. Do you know who Harvey Philip Spector was?"
who doesn't? He murdered his girlfriend, and he died in prison, 82
years old." "It wasn't murder, Selma. It was an accident; a
homicide. Anyway, do you know what he achieved before that
accident?" "No. Sorry, auntie."
Philip Spector was a songwriter and musician, born in poverty. By the
age of twenty-one, because of his genius, he was a millionaire, and
had achieved more than anybody ever had in the history of the music
was married only once. In order to avoid genetic disorders, he and
his wife agreed to not have children because Harvey's parents were
cousins. See? I am not alone in choosing to not have children in
order to protect them from the risk of an hereditary curse. I know
nothing about songwriting, and very little about music, but Harvey
Spector's decision to not have children makes him my hero, forever.
Throughout history, there have been highly educated persons who
married their cousins. Harvey Spector was the only one who made the
righteous decision to be childless in order to avoid the risk. For
that he deserves to have monuments built to him."
I don't know much about Harvey Philip Spector, but I know the great
Julius Caesar refused to have children because he had inherited
epilepsy from his Dad and Mom who were cousins. You have nothing to
worry about, auntie. We decided years ago we are not going to have
looked at each other, and smiled kindly.
"You should have told me of that decision at the beginning,
Selma. "I had to leave forty years ago. Everybody hated me."
"Perhaps some of them still do, who were there and still are
I am not asking you to meet anyone other than the bride and groom."
Selma, that rumour about me is neither here nor there in this matter
of you cousins marrying." "It is most important, auntie.
When we heard about that rumour, we just had to find you, because we,
too, had decided to not have children."
for the both of you. But that is only a partial remedy. The both of
you are still cousins. That makes marriage illegal." "Then
you do not know that each of us was adopted into the family by
different members who wanted non-diabetic children?"
adoption skirt around you are family?" "That is what our
lawyer is investigating, auntie. She has found precedents. There is
what if, eventually, that hope is not there, Selma?" There was a
long pause. Selma spoke softly, "We have postponed thinking that
far ahead, auntie."
the lawyer gives you the go-ahead, what does the family think?"
Self-consciously, and hesitantly, "Nobody in the family knows,
is amazed, and shows it. "You mentioned seven years?"
"Yes." "You have kept it a secret all this time?"
"Yes. It wasn't as difficult as it might sound, auntie. We are
cousins. We were innocently allowed licences, of which we took full
the law allows it, that will not mean the family will tolerate it."
"You are right, auntie. We've thought about that. If the law
allows us, we are going to meet far away and get married." "And
never come back." "For at least forty years."
you decided on your "far away?"
yet." "I have more than enough space for newlyweds."
"Thank you, auntie." "In the meantime, I would prefer
to not meet with anyone who is still here after forty years." "I
know of only one, auntie. She never leaves home. As for our
generation, if we do not mention you were here forty years ago, they
are just not interested."
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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