One upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a beautiful young girl who, in the prime of her life, fell in love with an old carpenter.
The good man loved her very much and, with the coming of spring, he could at last merry her. They had a big wedding and celebrated with the whole village.
Everybody considered the old man a poor devil who, sooner or later, would have had to deal with the exuberant young men longing for his beautiful bride.
Months went by and when the young bride told him that she was pregnant, the carpenter ran to the tavern of the village, shared with everybody the good news and offered everybody a drink. A kid asked him how it was possible for an old man like him to have babies. The kid reiterated his disapproval for the news adding that the old carpenter could have been his grandfather.
His happiness was greater than any offence and, after all, how could a kid understand the most important issues of life faced by a man? The wine spoke on his behalf and smiling he answered that, since having a child had always been his biggest wish, God had wanted to reward him by sending on earth an angel who blessed his wife’s womb.
People with a bad heart have always the same reaction when they see someone happy, they can only answer with envy and spite and, soon, the carpenter’s innocent answer was turned against him becoming reason for mockery and insults.
Happiness, precious balm to offences, protected him from malicious gossip only until his wife, who went to the fountain to get the water from the well every day, started being ridiculed, pointed at and humiliated by sniggers marking her way through the village.
Such a pure soul could not hide her pain and when her husband asked why she was so sad, she sobbed and only managed to say a few words implying that something had happened on the day of the announcement of the coming birth of his child.
They lived in a small village and rumours ran fast. The problem, when this happens, is that nobody simply passes on the news as heard it by their source. Each time it goes from mouth to mouth, it gains new details freely chosen by the messenger.
Within a few months, the newlywed bride couldn’t stand being seen around anymore and the melancholy made her sick. She felt targeted by the other women and couldn’t understand why the miracle of life was so despised by those who lived the same emotions when carrying their child in their womb.
Are there different kinds of mothers? She wondered heartbroken. Her husband didn’t know what to do to help her overcome that melancholy that was saddening her eyes, as if that child were a burden of guilt to carry. He decided to run away and when the day arrived, he got his wife on the back of a donkey and travelled towards the sea. They travelled for many days and many nights, went through hills then mountains and just when they thought they would have died of cold, they reached the desert. There, in the hot spell, they wandered for many weeks and the woman felt like they were going in circles because the landscape never changed, it was like crystallised by the steam coming from the ground that made things look closer than they actually were. The couple spent the nights in a tent and when the first stars started giving way to the dawn, they began travelling again.
The carpenter didn’t feel tired, nor cold during the night or hot during the day. However, he did feel that his woman couldn’t put up with it all for much longer, her womb was far too big.
Ph. Copyright Francesco Malavolta
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