Monday, April 18 …
6 weeks later…
Meet Ahmed, Saara’s husband …
I looked out of the little window next to me observing the tiny houses and blocks of green and brown patches spread out on the ground beneath me. The long flight had caused my limbs to freeze. My body was half asleep but my mind, my mind was fully awake and alert. I could think of nothing else but of seeing ‘her’ face waiting for me at the arrivals terminal, standing on her toes like she usually had to because of her shortened 160cm height, wearing her favorite pink scarf, as she peeped through the gaps between shoulders and heads shifting from person to person, looking, searching, waiting for me ….
These six weeks bore the impression of the love that I had for her deep into my heart. And as I sat there observing the minute houses and fields, I realized that I missed Saara before I even got to know her and this time apart only proved one thing to me, I was incurably in love, head over heels in love with my Saara. Perhaps the cliche is true and absence does make the heart fonder.
Saara and I had been married less than half a month and yet I was tumbling through layers of deep emotion as I felt electric currents surge through me at the mere thought of her. I couldn’t wait to touch her soft pink cheeks with my thumb, to plant kisses in a trail from her chin until I reached her closed eyelids. I loved how it made her giggle like a little girl. I couldn’t wait to smell her hair, to inhale the scent of her skin, to fall more in love with her, more in love than I already was …
I often wondered; was it selfish of me to leave her, to leave her so soon, a new bride in need of her protector. But this was my calling, my calling to leave, to serve Allah, to serve the ummah. I placed my name on the list of volunteers month’s before I even knew that I would marry Saara and if Allah had accepted me for the path of deen then surely it was meant for me I thought. The convoy that left for Palestine gave me no more than 5 days notice. I was torn between staying with Saara and aiding the people of Palestine, a cause which was very close to my heart. In the end I asked Saara what should I do. She told me with a smile on her glowing face to go and to assist the ummah. At that moment I fell deeper in love with her. I smiled and squeezed her tightly against my chest dissolving into her completely as I kissed the top of her head wondering how would I be able to leave her. But even at that moment I did not anticipate it being as difficult as it was to walk away from her when I had to leave.
I could not bring myself to turn around and look back at her face for fear that I would abandon my mission if I saw her saddened eyes. So I looked ahead instead as sadness nuzzled itself and found a comfortable corner to camp in my heart.
The aircraft jerked as the wheels made contact with the runway pulling me out of my thoughts and out of my misery as the air-bus landed. It doesn’t matter anymore, my thoughts of confusion and feelings of guilt, they mattered naught. I was back home and I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms again…
But as I floated through the passage way leading to an open hall of brightly lit faces all eagerly awaiting their loved one’s with smiles which lighted the way for miles , I saw no familiar face and no smile waiting for me, I saw no Saara …
Was she late?
I probed the little balls on my tasbeeh as I waited and waited until an hour had passed, and still I waited, for her. But she didn’t come…..
Unwelcomed thoughts caused my mouth to dry up and my throat to constrict. Time is sometimes a cruel companion, it can change minds and turn hearts from north to south. Has her heart turned to someone else? Has her mind changed?
And then I saw a familiar face…
But still it wasn’t her’s, it wasn’t my Saara’s perfect face.
Like rain had washed out a beautifully sunny day at the beach, I saw the face of my brother and the look in his eyes already spelled out what he’s mouth did not… Was I just being paranoid? I could barely speak out of fear of what he would say and so I couldn’t ask and I didn’t want to bring myself to ask him where Saara was.
I should have known right then. I should have read the words clouding his eye’s, they spelled something that I could not decipher at that moment and it was only much later that I realized his face had the look of dread seeping through it’s pores.
A quick handshake and a shortened hug and then he carried my bags off the carousel of yet to be claimed baggage making very little conversation about my trip and the flight. He seemed restless and in a rush. We moved awkwardly to the car as I watched his movements. And again I asked myself, am I just being paranoid? Something didn’t quite feel right. I waited for him to mention Saara, to tell me something about her but he didn’t mention her name even once. What was going on! Was I losing my mind?
An unseen gnawing from inside me unsettled me but I doused the hopeless thoughts with rational one’s.
She’s waiting at home for her husband I thought. A smile turned my lips into a subtle curve. A surprise party maybe?
My Saara…. I closed my eyes as fatigue blanketed me snugly. I began mentally chanting her name as I felt the wheels roll along the tar road as they carried me closer to her arms. The sound of the engine played in my mind as I allowed myself to delight in thoughts of my wife.
Saara… What a lovely name it is, Saara….. I could say the name over and over again and never tire… How perfectly her name fit her face I thought. I couldn’t wait to see her again.
My thoughts were getting lost further and deeper into the perfect image of her hazel eyes and her pink cheeks. Would she look different to me? Would she be shy all over again? I smiled to myself. I was so engrossed in my stream of thoughts that I didn’t see Mohamed take the off ramp before the one that led home.
He pulled up at the hospital and then turned to look at me with eyes as uncertain as the waves in a dark sea; ” there was an accident Ahmed”…..
My stomach descended to the ground from thousands of feet above as the pit of fear twisted, knotted and tightened, pulling me into disarray. An accident?
Was it Saara?
Was it someone else!?
Time is sometimes brutal and ruthless like a merciless savage! Yet it is one’s only companion…
A daily companion….
An only companion….
Is Saara in hospital? What has happened to her? I