Maria has succumbed to temptation - and taste its bittersweet end.
| Maria felt the throbbing pain stabbing in her belly. Her swollen hands grimly held the novena prayer as if for comfort. She closed her eyes and intensely prayed that she would survive the ordeal of giving birth.
She felt so uncomfortable lying on that dilapidated single bed. Every time she felt an aching twinge her weight unstably being swallowed by the rotten foam. The room was so small and she could smell the scent of laundry and shoes not being washed for ages. She jilted as she heard the rats running on the ceiling down to the bed side.
She remembered waking up in the same bed with many cockroaches behind her back. She thought it was a nightmare only to find out that it was real. She spent that whole night making love with Andoy and woke up with cockroaches sharing their romantic morning, savoring their steamy scents.
She tried to stand up, her engorged toes reached for the uneven slippers lying on the floor. She rubbed her belly as the pain came in often interval. She reached for the doorknob, peeked out of the room, and looked for her husband.
Andoy, the man she fell in love a year ago was out there in the small living room with his feet up on a chair, watching television. He seemed so absorbed in what he was watching and barely noticed her.
Maria told him to call a midwife. He does not seem nervous or worried - not at all. He raised his eyebrow, looked at her in disgust and stubbornly put on his cap.
“Go inside”, he whispered, avoiding waking his parents, turned off the television and walked out.
She sat on the edge of the bed, tried to think and recall. That morning in their apartment, she was preparing to go to the office, still trying to work even on her 9th month of pregnancy. When she saw the blood spots on her underwear she thought it was just normal since they made out that night. He was drunk and forced her to do it.
Her sister, Donna, was so anxious seeing the blood spots. Nervously told their neighbors that she was laboring and called her officemates. As her friendly neighbors and sister rushed by organizing her maternity bag she just sat there wondering if it was really her due. Maybe the baby had been wounded because of her husband’s assault last night. But how could she tell them. Andoy left early to practice with his band mates and did not even bother of her condition.
Two of her guy friends came driving an office car without permission from the agency. They brought her to the hospital both acting like her husband. That after noon her best friend and her husband came and they waited all day. It was late afternoon when her friends decided to leave and just get back the following morning.
When they were gone, she was left uncomfortable sitting outside the labor room. It was a public hospital. As she sat there, a woman lying on bed was pushed out, full of blood, and was surrounded by crying family members-she just gave birth and God knows what happened to her.
She noticed that emergency room was fully occupied and they could not accommodate her until her pelvic was 10 cm wide opened. She opened her legs in disgust as the “on the job” training nurse blatantly inserted two fingers on her aperture. He shrugged his shoulder and informed her it was just four cm wide, that she could even watch movies and just come back.
She saw her husband leaning on the wall using his mobile phone. He seemed busy, and fresh looking. He looked like going to sing for a gig than a husband with a wife due to give birth. His hair was still wet from shower; he was wearing his blue polo he wore after their wedding. His long shorts gave him the impression of one so young and enjoying life. His favorite high cat leather brown shoes gave him confidence that he was tall at 5 feet three inches. She sighed. He was staring at her husband, its sardonic he would qualify as her son.
They agreed that he would take her to his parents’ home and would just go back to the hospital when it was necessary. Stupid decision, she realized now.
Thus there she was laboring in his small room fitted to dwarf people like him. The bed was so uncomfortable and unstable. She sat on the floor tried not to absorb the stink scents of the room. How she missed her mother. Tears came out of her eyes. If only she had not succumbed to sweet temptations, she might not be in the bitter situation she was into.
Maria knew it was not the time for self pity but she badly needed someone. At that moment she would greatly appreciate any form of compassion from anyone. As if wished granted, her sister in law who just gave birth a month ago came in. Katie, she was five years younger than her but ages matured when it comes to maternal problems. Katie gently massaged her belly. She felt immensely relieved. It helped light her pain and spirit.
Katie wanted to stay longer but her baby was crying. As Katie left, Maria saw the shoddy wall clock; it was 2:00 AM.
Her husband came at last with the midwife. The midwife, a big woman puffing a cigarette at her right hand wearing a party dress doesn’t seem a midwife to Marie at all. She was drunk. She looked at her through smoky air and peeked down at her vagina, rascally entering her fingers with old brownish gloves on. She said that it will take another two hours of labor, while rubbing her cigarette on the floor. She laid on bed afterwards and fell asleep.
Maria just sat there, numbly and confused. She knew it was only her who should be blamed for what was happening. She had been an easy prize for Andoy, allowing him to get her virginity on that gloomy night outside the library. She felt like Juliet on the hands of Romeo.
She called her husband after an hour, asked him to call for another nurse or midwife. This one was incapacitated she told him pointing to the snoozing midwife. Andoy disregarded her request and searched for a good show on television.
Helpless, Maria lay on the floor staring at a sleeping midwife on the bed. The drunken midwife looked like a big snoring monster. She shivered as she felt the urgency, the immediate occurrence of pain.
Her abdomen was waving like an angry sea, shaking like a mountain suffering from an earthquake. She saw it moved on its own. Every downward movement gave her incomparable pain, she was afraid her pelvic bone would break up; the baby was trying its best to come out. She spanked the leg of the midwife sleeping opposite her.
The midwife woke up, mesmerized. Held one hand on Maria’s shaking right knee, it needs to be steady. Maria squeezed the novena for sacred heart of Jesus she was holding in her left hand. She reached for a white cloth nearby and put it in her mouth. She was sobbing but she realized she have to do it on her own.
She saw the midwife lighted a cigarette, puffed out a smoke, while she was deliriously trying her best to breathe and deliver the baby. In that moment Maria thought she would die, She cannot make it anymore, the pain was so unbearable, the situation so frustrating, she was so helpless.
Maria gasped. It was almost there but for some reason it cannot come out. She thought it was a big feces coming out of her. She felt like losing consciousness. There was water all over her, damping her back. She was about to given up when she heard her nephews crying… so sweet, like an angel straight from heaven, singing a lullaby.
That inspired Maria, somehow gave her strength, she could not afford something bad would happen to her baby. She had to do it. She gathered all her strength and gritted the white cloth between her teeth, her two hands tightly held the wooden side of the window above her and with one big push, one final blow, and the baby came out crying while one part of the window fell on her head.
A baby girl! The cord connecting her was surrounded on the baby’s neck thrice. The midwife, which was at last being useful, cut the cord and cleaned the baby. She put a white cloth around her. Maria glanced at the baby and felt so relieved. She was alive and normal.
She was feeling blissfully happy when the midwife rudely sprayed alcohol on her vagina. It hurt so bad she wanted to spank her but had no energy. The midwife cleaned her and left afterwards, still drunk.
Andoy looked at the baby’s face. Maria hadn’t received the kiss and hug she was expecting. He was smiling but he doesn’t look fulfilled. He walked out saying he had to take care of something. Maria learned that he left with his band group to take care of their visa.
She felt so lonely with her baby. She was hungry. The rice and dried fish Andoy’s mother put beside her, does not look inviting. The baby cried and she saw a mosquito feeding on her left eye, leaving it reddish. She must be hungry too, Maria thought.
She squeezed her nipple and there was nothing. Not a single drop of milk. She recalled that she bought a bottle and baby milk, she tried to stand up to prepare it. Every movement hurt, she was dizzy and lame. She leaned on the wall; gradually made her way to the kitchen. She was almost finished preparing the bottled milk when the midwife fresh from bath came in and asked her if she had seen the newly mother she assisted.
Maria was so annoyed that the midwife did not even recognize her. She almost threw the bottled milk to her face. She sighed so hard and told the midwife it’s no less than her standing in the kitchen and talking with her. It turned out the midwife was just interested in getting her payment.
Maria went back to the room and fed the baby, she felt odd. Did she deserve this? Is this the consequence of her actions? One thing was sure, she would do her best to give a bright future to her baby, with or without her husband, and she will never get pregnant again if Andoy would be the father. No more giving in to temptations.
When Donna came in with juicy food, Maria felt loved. She looked on as Donna removed the clothes that enveloped her baby like a mummy. Donna informed her that she went to the hospital and was searching for her. Her officemates were there too to visit. Only to find out she gave birth in that decrepit room.
Maria heard Andoy’s family chatting outside the room. Apparently, it was the first time someone gave birth in that house. Andoy has nine other siblings and they were all delivered in a hospital.
So ironic and cruel! Maria had realized what temptations could bring to her…a bittersweet end.