“Joe are you kidding me right now? Really? Do you NOT see how pregnant I am? Talking about I walk to the City of David to be counted? Are you gonna hire us a camel? Just tell them to add “+1” and “Coming Soon” next to your name!”
“For crying out loud Joseph. Is it because I’m having a boy and you wanted a girl?”
“Maria, you know we don’t have a choice in this matter. Please. Don’t make me feel worse than I already do.”
“Joe!” Maria breathed heavily as a severe contraction hit her. She had been getting them 2 hours now but this latest one was on a whole other level. Luckily, they had just been “counted” and were free to seek accommodation at the Bethlehem inn.
“My woman and I need a room, pronto!” an agitated Joseph said to the inn attendant.
The attendant took one look at Maria who had her hands on the counter and panicked.
“For tonight?” he asked, wide eyed.
“No, for next week. We are just practising room booking…. Yes tonight! You ignoramus!”
“Am sorry sir, but there is no room at the inn tonight”
Within a split second, Joseph who is tall and well built had reached over the counter and had the attendant’s feet dangling a good two feet off the ground.
“My. wife” he said through clenched teeth
“is. about. to. have. this. baby. get. us. a. room. ”
“Joe the poor man is terrified. Put him down.”
“Let’s go, Joe. Let’s find an alternative.”
“Where the hell are my relatives when I need them?” Joseph mumbled as he worriedly walked Maria out of the inn. At the door, another contraction hit Maria. “I have to have this baby NOW, Joe!”
Joseph commandeered her towards a barn he spotted that has a relatively soft spreading of hay and helped her lie down.
“Unpack that bag” Maria said in-between contractions that were now 1 minute apart. “Take out the lessos (wraps) and cover me with one of them. Find the razor. Fill this bucket with water and come back with a clean bowl. ”
“Are you sure you’re in labor? You sound awfully normal.” Joseph asked as he unpacked.
“Come closer” Maria whispered.
Joseph moved closer to Maria, his head just above her big tummy.
“Cloooooser”, she whispered, gesticulating.
Joseph unsuspectingly moved his face above Maria’s face.
Within a split second Maria grabbed Joseph’s collar and pulled his face to within half an inch of hers.
“Joseph. Son. of. Jacob. don’t. ever. ask. a. woman. in. labor. if. she. is. sure. sheisinlabour!”
“I’m sorry honey.” Joseph the tender giant said, touching her face. “Foolish of me. It’s just that you’re being such a champ about it”
“Water!” she said through gritted teeth.
Joseph handed her a bowl of water.
“no. drinking. water.”
“Sorry. Am sorry.” He put a tumbler next to her mouth so she could sip.
The next contraction came and she clutched his wrist so hard he thought she was gonna dislocate it.
“You son of a gun! You did this to me!” She shouted at the crown of the contraction.
Joseph looked around the barn helplessly. His eyes connected with one of the two cows at the corner of the barn. He didn’t dare say what was on the tip of his tongue. He cast a quick accusatory glance heavenward.
“OK Joe, it is time.”
“Time to do what?” His eyes widened.
“Time to have this baby.”
“I thought that’s what we have been doing?”
She narrowed her eyes at him.
“I want you to go down there and catch the baby’s head when I push. Then run your finger around his neck to make sure the cord is not around it. OK? And be careful, there might be more than one.”
“Joe? Joe? Oh for Chrissake!”
Joseph woke up to the enthusiastic cry of the boy child.
“What happened? Is he here?”
Maria cut her eyes at him “We shall deal with the fainting issue later.”
“In the meantime,” she broke into a huge smile. “Congratulations! You are the proud father of a bouncing baby boy!”
“Oh Maria! I have never loved you more, or been prouder of you”
“Come and hold your son” she extended the child towards him.
“Now hand me my toilet bag. For some reason, I suspect people may be coming to visit the baby. I don’t want to be looking all raggedy when they do!”
Joseph looked at her incredulously and said nothing. He wasn’t about to ask her who on earth would know where they were and that they had had the baby after the fainting episode!
“Honey?” Joseph called to Maria as he played with his son’s little fingers. He was sooo cute and perfect.
“Are you gonna tell your cousin Lizzy about the fainting thing? I feel it’s unnecessary”
Maria lifted up her head and looked at Joseph “First thing when I see her”, she said without batting an eyelid, then lay her head back down.
©Mugethi Gitau 13/03/03
I have been praying for inspiration to finish this story for months. Then finally on this beautiful 13th Day of March 2013, it came! This is a major breakthrough for me as a writer. I praise my Lord that inspires me to write. And the original Maria, whose character I was able to dorn as I embarked on this mission. Salute, Mother of God! I am richly blessed!