“Simon, Simon wake up!”
“Leave me alone, the sun’s not even up.”
“Simon, please, something’s wrong with Mom, she’s sick, she’s burning up and I don’t know what to do.”
There weren’t many days I woke up in the morning. Usually that was when I was getting to bed after fishing all night and this wasn’t how I envisioned it would be.
“Okay, I’m up.” I swung my feet off the bed, but I was still groggy. What did she expect me to do? I’m a fisherman not a doctor.
“Simon, I need water for her to drink and to wet cloths to help bring her fever down. Can you stay with her while I go to the well?”
That didn’t sound like a good idea at all, what if she needed help with something personal or if she threw up, or both?
“Simon, please we need to do something.”
“Okay, you stay with your mother, I’ll go get the water.”
“Thank you, are you sure?”
“Sure, I’m sure, where’s the container?”
I wasn’t sure; I had never ever gone to get water before. My mother and sisters had always made sure the water containers were full while I was growing up. After we were married Esther and her mother had taken care of it. But how difficult could it be?
Esther pointed to the large clay container in the corner, “Be careful, don’t hurt yourself, it can be heavy when it’s full.”
Heavy, how heavy could it be? Most nights I spent hours pulling back wet nets full of fish.
“I think I’m good, I’m pretty sure I can handle a jug of water, I’ll be right back.”
And while I had never carried one of the water pots myself, I had seen the women in the village doing it almost every day.
It seemed that everyone in town was up and about, catching up on things not finished before things were put on hold for the sabbath.
Normally at this hour I was in bed after a night of fishing. I had forgotten the morning bustle of everyday life. Trips to the market for food and to the well for water. Children on their way to cheder, beggars finding their preferred spots.
And people giving me glances as I made my way to the well, it was almost as if they had never seen a man with a water container before.
When I arrived at the well,
it was a hive of activity. Women from around the village had gathered to get
water for their households and more importantly, to visit and catch up on each
other’s lives. The loud chatter became hushed whispers as I made my way through
the crowd to draw my water. And then curiosity got the best of them;
“Where’s Esther Simon? Why are you here?” The questions came from Esther’s best friend Mary.
As I explained about Esther’s mother the other woman crowded around, tsking, expressing their sympathy and asking what they could do to help. I knew that before the sun set, there’d be enough food at the house to feed us for a week.
The ladies made room for me
at the front of the line and Mary and another woman I vaguely recognized help
me fill my container.
And what seemed so simple for Esther turned into a comedy of errors for me. While I worked at getting the container centered on my head, I managed to spill enough to soak my clothes. With every step I took I felt like I would lose the silly jug.
All along the way I could hear the whispers and snickers. I didn’t know if they were laughing because a man was carrying water or if they were just amused at my ineptness at what should have been a simple task.
The why didn’t matter; I had never been more embarrassed in my life. By the time I got home I was seething and wondering how to explain where the missing water from the container had gone. I couldn’t believe how much I had spilled along the way. I was soaked to the waist.
As I pushed open the door, I heard Esther laughing. What could she possibly have to laugh about?