The receptionist, a young lady in her early twenties with perfectly manicured nails, looked at her once and decided she wasn’t worth a second look. She picked her pen and contemptuously asked for the usual details. Name? Have you ever attended any antenatal classes? Had you made a booking or are you on insurance? Do you have a particular doctor you’d like to see? Is anyone with you? Pride has a way of stripping off one’s common sense.
The lady responded, gave her name in hesitant servings punctuated by periods of wincing in pain and answered all the other questions obviously in the negative. The contractions were now intense, coming rapidly and lasting so long. So far she had tried to hold back the pain, but it was getting unbearable by the minute. She grimaced, clutched the reception’s desk with one hand and with the other, massaged her back as hard as she could pushing her chin into her bony chest almost leaving a depression. Small droplets of sweat formed on her deeply wrinkled forehead.
The contraction having passed she straightened up, took a deep breath and sighed loudly probably hoping the mold of steel seated before her will become human for a moment.
The receptionist ignored her and continued writing in her book as she hummed to a tune in her head, briefly looking at her nails, compared them with her handwriting, then with scarcely a second glance and using her chin, pointed to the delivery room. She made no effort to escort her to the delivery room but pulled out a drawer, picked out a pair of gloves and put them on daintily, taking extreme care not to rip them with her nails. Then with tissue and sanitizer, she cleaned her desk tilting her head a little and paying more attention to the places the woman had placed her hands. Satisfied, she took off the gloves threw them in the bin next to her desk, followed them with her eyes then leaned back in her chair and proceeded to chew gum swinging her lower jaw like a contented overfed goat regurgitating the days meal.
The sight of the delivery room seemed to be the impetus the lady needed. With a little more determination she headed for the entrance, a few steps away from the reception.
An Extract from “Specks of God” by Anne Kawumi.