The closer the due date for the baby came, the more I worried that the girl I had brought to live with me would be happy. I hoped that she would appreciate the things that we had acquired so far without her having to worry too much about where the money would come from. By then I had learned how women in Bocas, as in Colon and Panama City, worked their bodies to bring home more money. So far, in the couple of months she’d been there with me we had a respectable place to live and she didn’t have to wash my clothes or cook for me or herself as it was all done for her. The only thing I asked of her was to be loyal to me. One day, however, the question of her loyalty would be brought home to me.
A new man had joined our work crew. The guy was a very talkative fellow, a short Westindian man a little older than we were. I tried avoiding him as I was in no mood for conversation and so, I would retreat to some private corner of the plantation to have my lunch in peace. This guy, however, would follow me around trying to start a conversation at times when, from sheer tiredness after a mornings hard work, I just wanted to sit and listen to nature. “Are you the Juni whose mother is Rosa?” he insisted. “I thought it was you!” he said, even though I ignored him. My tired bones prevented me from responding.
During the days that followed I was sharp to keep an alert eye on my pregnant girl-child since I had to be watchful at night when she could not sleep. It was during a time that she complained that she coudn’t sleep. So, I made up my mind to take a few days off work and stay home to keep monitoring her. Early one Thursday night I was awakened from a deep restful sleep to find that my name had been called to the middle of the street facing our new home. It seemed that I had been challenged to a fight by my next door neighbor. The man that I had been working with for some time and trying my best to ignore was now challenging me to come out and fight in front of the neighborhood.
I questioned my wife as to what had set this off and she confessed that she’d had words with his girlfriend next door. “She said something to me and I answered her back,” said Pug. I suddenly recalled how, back in Colon, I had been witness to the kind of “situations” Pug could get involved in. I once walked right into a ringside spectacle to act as referee referee between Pug and another girl as they got tangled up in Pug’s long jet black hair. I finally managed to get the bigger girl to let go of her hair and put an end to the fracas but the memory of the event triggered my memory of this big girl who now lived in Bocas with the new man.
I grew tired of the tirade by that loud mouth out in the street and made an attempt to go down there and shut him up, but my little frail pregnant wife grabbed me and said, “Juni don’t go down there!” Since I had seen how strong Pug could get I decided to be careful. Her condition worried me. That and because I had been warned by my other Spanish speaking friends not answer such a call to fight in public since the Corregidor would place both of us in jail.
And so, for the next two or three weeks I would come home to go walking with my wife to visit the homes of some friendly Spanish speaking friends to ask their wives’ advise on how to manage a birth if the need should arise and we couldn’t get to the hospital in Almirante. They were very helpful and my worries subsided.
“You are doing the right thing,” they told me. “Just rub her with Winter Green and keep her company. You should stay home and take a shower with her and calm her down. In fact, my boss told me to stay home and care for her, so that most of my days spent at home I was able to stay out of my trouble making neighbor’s way and take good care of my wife.
This story continues.