A Natural Part of Motherhood
Namah smiled at Milkan and patted the wooden bench next to her. The sun shone hot, though a cool wind ruffled her hair as she leaned against the woven reed fibers making up the wall of her home.
Milkan settled down, perching her youngest child, Rula, at her side. “I wish I brought news, but we’ve had no visitors.”
Namah exhaled a slow breath. “Nor us.” She closed her eyes. “I’m so tired.” She shifted her weight, straightening. “I shouldn’t complain. It’s Jonas we should think of. She’s been having a streak of ill-luck, the like of which she’s never experienced before. Though she hates to admit it, she misses Obed as much as you miss Barak and I miss my Aram.”
Milkan surveyed the yard, counting her children on her fingertips. She frowned. “I’m one short.”
Rula climbed into her nap and pulled at a bag slung around Milkan’s neck. She reached in, drew out a piece of dried fruit, and chewed it lustily.
Milkan peered ahead and started a recount.
Jonas strode into view with Onia following behind.
A burst of pleasure swept over Namah. She nudged Milkan. “See who’s coming.”
Milkan smiled and moved aside to make room. “Good morning, Jonas! We must all be feeling weary and bored.”
Jonas stopped and motioned for Onia to join the other children. She faced the two women, a frown etched into her forehead. “I wish I had good news, but—”
Milkan clutched Rula. “Why? What’s happened?” She stood up. “Barak? Obed?”
Jonas shook her head. “No, not them.”
Namah rose to her feet. “Let’s go inside where it’s cooler.”
The three women trailed into Namah’s dwelling. The space between the wall and the overhanging ceiling allowed a slight breeze and a slanting light to filter through.
Before anyone sat down, Jonas faced her friends. “Runners came late last night to warn us—invaders are destroying villages to the north and west.” She squeezed her hands together, her face pale and pinched. “They’re taking slaves.”
Namah closed her eyes. “Not again!”
Trembling, Milkan clutched Rula to her chest, forcing the child to whimper in reaction. “But what about my children? What protection do we have?” Milkan stepped to the threshold and started counting again.
Jonas laid her hand on Milkan’s shoulder. “Stay calm. The runner said they’re still some distance away and may decide to go another direction.”
After ticking the last number off her finger, Milkan nodded, satisfied, and motioned for the children to continue playing.
Jonas smiled at Onia as he led a chase across the village. She glanced back at Milkan. “We won’t allow our children to be enslaved as long as we have breath in our bodies. I spoke with Lud this morning. He’s organizing the men to watch for trouble from every direction. We’ll also send scouts north and west to discover news. Men from all three clans will prepare their weapons. We must trust in Lud’s wisdom and direction.” She sighed and glanced outside. “But I had to warn you.”
Namah wrapped her arm around Milkan. “We’re not alone.”
Jonas pointed out one window. “There are caves in the north. We could find shelter there—if need be.”
Milkan clutched the table edge as she slid onto the bench. “I feel sick. I’ve been dreading something like this ever since Barak left.”
Namah and Jonas smiled at each other. “A natural part of motherhood.”
Jonas turned to the door. “We will not be defeated. For our own sake and those who return.”
Milkan drew Rula back into her arms. “I just want Barak home again.” After rising, she stepped out into the sunshine, slung her bag over her shoulder, and clapped.
Her children turned and gathered before her.
Her head down, Milkan started away with her throng trailing behind her. She turned. “Send word—anything—so I know.”
Jonas nodded and waved. She stepped outside and faced Namah. “I must go too.”
Onia stepped patiently to his mother’s side.
“I’ll send word if I hear anything.” Jonas peered around the village and sighed. “It’s at times like these that I miss Aram the most.”
Namah clasped her hands before her. “Yes, he was a wise man—more so than I gave him credit for while he lived.” She peered at Jonas. “Time helps us see more clearly.”
Jonas patted her friend’s arm. “Lud will be a good leader. We must not be afraid.” She turned and started away with her son following in her footsteps.
After watching her friends traipse out of the village, Namah glanced at the sky. “I’m not afraid.”
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~Desmond Tutu
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