She could still hear their loud angry cries. No matter how many times she slept and woke, no matter how sunrises and sunsets blazed across the sky; she could not forget.

‘Take off her clothes!’ ‘Ole!’ had rent the air. And in the midst of them all she stood. Her neck smarting from the pain of a woman who with an angry cry of ‘pretender’ had snatched her rosary from her neck. She stood angry. Tall. Her seeming lack of remorse driving the crowd to frenzy.

She seemed unaware when her blouse was torn off her, oblivious to the collective gasp at the sight of her belly. She stood there in her bra and skirts, looking like a statue. What had not been apparent with her clothes on was clear now. She was pregnant.

Hunger can drive a sane man to madness.

The deep gnawing sensation in your stomach.

The faintness.

And with time, the anger.

The woman hurrying past with her shopping. Not sparing a glance at you. Her tummy was full. Why would she care?

The man with his briefcase.

The teenager.

Everybody had food but you. The quiet desperation grew within like a swelling dam straining against its walls. You reached the point where you didn’t care. You would do anything.

‘Please’.

‘Please do not stop’.

The words quietened the babble of voices as effectively as a bullet would have. She had bowed her head as she spoke, and now she raised it.

They knew her. She had been to their stalls, begging for food; never money, just food. They had turned her away.

Business was bad.

The economic meltdown was affecting them.

Excuses.

But they didn’t know she was pregnant. How could they? Her blouse covered it well. And now they would have beaten and maybe killed her for stealing a loaf of bread. The crowd melted away as quickly as it had formed. She was left standing like the adulteress in the bible only there was no Jesus to forgive her.

She was left standing there.

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