That day will forever be etched in my memory. One second it was hot like fire, and the next the skies broke loose, making way for heavy rain to burst out of clouds that could no longer carry it. Like a mighty army, the rain approached the earth. Determined. Incapable of being stopped.
It fell with purpose. Wiping out suffocating heat. Cooling bodies filled with sweat. Resuscitating discolored blades of grass that drooped sideways, almost dead from days of lack. Bringing winds of refreshing to our sheep.
That day, after we’d put the sheep back in their shelter, we ran straight for the back door of the house. With clothes dripping wet, we sat in front of the kitchen window watching hard drops of rain hit brown soil, wilted grass, and those thirsty plants littered around the sheep shelter.
That same day, my mother looked into my eyes and said, “Nina, see how the rain falls?”
“Yes, mother,” I answered, half-wondering where she was going with this.
“Nina, your heart should be like rain,” she muttered. “One hundred percent in. One direction. One goal.”
The other day, I found myself astonished as my bubbly, handsome 1-year old giggled uncontrollably at the silliness of my erratic mood switch, completely oblivious to the passage of time and how mummy was flipping over because he wouldn’t stay still long enough to change his diaper.
He wanted to keep playing. I wanted to stop.
He wanted to keep giggling and kicking. I wanted a smooth sail — to be efficient and done quickly.
It should only take a few minutes to change him, right? Surely, this was no David and Goliath war. There were no weapons of warfare. No stones to throw. No armor. No shield.
Just I and my little baby boy alone in that room.
Come on, this can’t be hard, I thought. Sing his favorite song, wipe quickly, and finish up nicely.
Apparently, someone else had different plans. Baby boy was having none of that.
Tonight I will be who I am. The woman with the dark red lipstick, face-beat makeup, and perfume that whispers, “Take me, please.”
The woman in my oval mirror looks back at me as she adjusts her beautiful cream-colored pearls worn four layers down her neck into the curve where her breasts divide. With her ears adorned with large hoop earrings that barely caress the tips of her shoulders, she looks back at me as though mocking me publicly with a question I cannot answer.
The wall is thin. I can hear my children breathing heavily in the room next to me. Some nights, the youngest of the three somehow senses when mummy walks past his room. Some nights, he wakes up too. Hopefully, not tonight.
Hannah needed a child. Her heart bled for a child. Nothing else could comfort her. Nothing else could make her laugh. Give her a thousand gifts, she wanted none. Her husband tried, but he wasted time. Wasted gifts. Wasted words. All rejected.
“Hannah!” Elkanah called to her one day. “Look at me, please. Am I not better to you than ten sons?” he whispered into her ear.
There was no response. Echoes of unanswered questions remained.
She must have turned away from him, flinching with guilt. Red-faced. Sullen. Angry — not at him, but at herself. She did not know why she had these feelings.
Every day, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her rival Peninah, who not only had sons but daughters. She saw her laughter. She craved her joy. She was jealous of her fullness. And when she thought about herself, what did she have? Only gifts from her husband. No children.
So she prayed, and she prayed…and she prayed some more. Continue reading