You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
Joseph walked towards her through the doors of the thirteenth – no, twelfth – no, thirteenth – oh well, she had lost count – inn that night. The sun was setting, and it was beautiful, but she didn’t have time to consider such things as beautiful sunsets or fragrant flowers. She had hoped, and prayed, that there would be even the tiniest square of space in here to lay her head, and have her baby, and get away from it all.
She noticed her disappointment was not lost on him; his face fell even more. He was trying to be a good man, doing as much as he could. She put on a smile quickly; a perfunctory smile, but gave it up for a wince as her contractions overcame her again. She saw him break into a trot before her eyes closed weakly, tired of fighting the pain.
“You’re sweating.” She heard his voice, and felt his palm on her forehead.
Of course I’m sweating. I’m having contractions, and I’m sitting on a donkey that can barely hold up my – no, our – weights. If the past few hours are anything to go by, then I’m going to have a baby on this donkey. Am I supposed to be cool as a cucumber?
But it was great to feel his hand, and it comforted her to know he was there with her through it all. He was a good man; he had been a good man through it all.
Her father had found out she was with child first; she informed him. He flew off the handle, as she had expected him to. She sat quietly, meekly, through his rage, and his raging. She had done an unclean thing, he said. She would be put to death, he said. He would not be a part of covering up her sin, because that would bring the Lord’s curse upon him also.
He didn’t even let her explain.
But she didn’t have an explanation. She had seen an angel, and he had told her some things, and then she had found herself with child. It was a silly explanation, and she knew neither he nor anybody else would believe her. Was she a priest, or a descendant of Levi? Was she even a man? Why would she be picked out or a visitation by an angel?
She would have a child by the Holy Ghost, who was supposed to be called the son of God. Whoever had heard of the Holy Ghost, or a child whose father was God? Did the Almighty God need a woman if he wanted a child? Didn’t He create all people, both men and women?
It was all very absurd. She doubted herself when she thought about it sometimes…did she actually see an angel, and hear those things? Her father wouldn’t believe it, no one would. She was every inch as confused as he was.
Her mother had sat in the shadows in the corner of the room, sobbing quietly into her apron. She looked over at her, and her heart broke. She didn’t have any explanation, any consolation, nothing, nothing to offer her dear mother as the reason for this sudden violation of everything they held dear.
And then Joseph walked in. It was a very dramatic scene that met his eyes – man yelling, wife sobbing, daughter dumbfounded. But his face showed understanding immediately. He was a little winded, as though he had hurried down to stop something catastrophic he knew was going to happen. He looked from her to her father and to her again, his expression knowing.
Oh my God. He couldn’t know already; nobody did, except the people in the room.
But the next words he said were the most beautiful words she had ever heard in her entire life. Why, or how he came to that decision, she didn’t know; she would make him tell her later. He somehow managed to stay her father’s rage, and comfort her mother.
And now she felt the arms of two very large women helping her off the donkey, and her tension eased a little; she had lost track of time and movement. Apparently they had reached another inn, and this one had room. Her eyes were closed, and she was one with her pain by now, but the stench that hit her nostrils when she was helped across the threshold was overpowering…a mixture of burnt wool and hay and animal urine…what kind of inn was this? Her head was swimming, and she felt like she would pass out…her baby was probably crowning by now…no he wasn’t.
She felt them lower her onto a bed…no, a pile of hay. Then a woman ran into the room – only identifiable by her voice – and then a man…and then another woman. There were hurried voices and hands everywhere…someone put a napkin on her forehead…another hitched her dress up…a woman was stroking her hair and speaking in a soothing voice, too soothing to be heard, drowned by her pain and wails…she no longer knew where she ended and where her pain started…and she willed it all to be over.
The story of Jesus’ birth, as written in the Bible, which is the only authoritative source of it, can be found in Matthew chapters 1 & 2, and Luke chapters 1 & 2. I added some sugar and spice to write this…not enough to make significant changes though…but anything you don’t find there may not have happened. That’s just my mind working.
By Temitayo Ajiboye
Image Courtesy: AceShowbiz