Fehmida, Ahmed’s mother, took her son’s hand lovingly within her hand and the soft and gentle caress of a mother’s touch caused his eyes to moisten with tears. But Ahmed looked away, trying not to release them, squinting as he fixated on an insignificant spot on the wall, a welcomed distraction. He clenched his teeth together never losing focus of the insignificant spot, the distraction that helped him to not look into his mother’s eyes. He could not bear to read her mind before her lips parted, having fate knock the last bit of wind out of him. Distractions are wonderful illusions allowing us freedom from feelings, freedom from difficulties, freedom from sadness, even if just momentarily. But Ahmed knew that his distraction would be short lived, like every other moment of peace in his life. In a few seconds he could possibly hear the most devastating news that he has ever heard. Even though these last few months had been nothing short of treacherous, unbelievable even, here he stood in the face of another impossible moment and this mountain, this moment he felt, he could never conquer. Losing Saara or their baby would see him lose all faith in life.
“Saara lost a lot of blood, the doctor had to make a choice between mother and baby”….
Silence cascaded over them in ice cold torrents.
“It was a matter of life and death Ahmed”…
Ahmed closed his eyes tightly, holding back every atom of his being that wanted to gush out of him. He was silent but he could feel the whistle of his grief starting to sound inside his head as it stung his eye’s.
“He tried his best to save them both. He got the baby out within seconds. She’s so beautiful Ahmed, she looks like the tiniest little angel”.
SubhanAllah! “An angel”, he said silently, “I have an angel”. His tears finally released themselves from his eyes, there was no holding them back.
” After she squealed taking in her first breath of life, the doctor began to work on Saara trying to stop the hemorrhaging. He took a long time. He said that Saara’s trauma from the accident was too much to bear and pre term labor was inevitable. But he didn’t forsee that she would again return to a life and death situation. I think that even though Saara’s mind had forgotten almost everything, her heart remembered every detail and yet lost its tongue, unable to reach out to you Ahmed. Doctor Mia said that something must have set off her emotions, distressing her therefore causing the premature labor. Aunty Salma told me about Nabeela and the proposal”…
Fehmida was looking intently at Ahmed but still he wouldn’t meet her gaze.
Ahmed bit on his lower lip as guilt rippled through him. His mind flashed back to a mere few hours earlier, he cringed at the memory. He shouldn’t have brought up marriage to Nabeela at all! Already she felt so distant, like a vague memory or a bad dream. Once again he was the cause of Saara’s pain.
Fehmida sighed heavily and then continued to tell Ahmed about Saara’s condition.
“We sat waiting and waiting. It felt like eternity. People came in and out of those doors but no one had any news of Saara. Her father tried to call you from her phone but you didn’t answer Ahmed. We sat restlessly, anxiously and then a nurse came to deliver the news”….
His heart was bleeding as he pictured Saara losing all that blood. Why is it always Saara? Why not him, he asked Allah. She doesn’t deserve any of it! Their baby deserves her mother. Again Ahmed wished at that moment that Allah had taken him and not Saara. He turned to face the wall, pounding a fist into the concrete but Fehmida caught grip of Ahmed’s arm and said…
” She made it habibi”.
His eyes were already pools of tears and he didn’t hear his mother. He stared at the wall, his mouth tensed, his eye’s lost and distant.
” She made it Ahmed!”. Fehmida said again and then he turned to look at her registering his mother’s words.
“She made it”? He asked like a little boy in disbelief. She smiled and assured him with certainty that Saara had made it.
” She’s in a coma again Ahmed, this time its been induced to help her heal”
Saara was once again floating and lost in a world of dreams. He would not have imagined that he would again sit beside her bed staring at her beautiful sleeping face wondering where she was and what was she seeing. And then that’s exactly where he found himself, sitting at Saara’s bedside, his hand in her almost lifeless pale hand waiting for her fingers to twitch and move and grip their mold in his fingers. The symphony of monitors belted out a familiar tune that caused his ears to bleed. And just like that, he began the wait for time to pass by again and for the stream of sleep to move along allowing Saara to open her eyes and to return home. The clock’s continued to tick, the monitor beeped in synchronization with her breaths, birds chirped on cue, everything was passing through the dripping seconds, second after second after another second and Saara lay there asleep, as if she were removed from it all.
But what exactly awaited them, Ahmed wondered.
Days passed and their baby girl was growing bigger and stronger and all the while her mother continued to float in a world of her own, a world undiscovered, unseen and felt only behind the shut curtains of her eye lids. Ahmed was in love again, he held off on naming their daughter. He would allow Saara to choose her name.
Nabeela would never be a part of his life. He knew that it was wrong to consider marriage to her while under duress. Even if Saara didn’t ever remember him, he felt like he wouldn’t marry anyone again. You cannot fill a void just for the sake of it. Everything has its time and in time lies the cure to healing. If Saara insisted, he would eventually release her from their bond of marriage as it was wrong to forcibly hold her to their union. He would always have his little girl, this he knew from the moment that he held her little body in his arms.
And as always, time floats by unseen, unfelt, changing everything and everyone while we all drink from its slumber….
A few weeks later, Saara’s eyes fluttered slightly while still closed but Ahmed didn’t see them as he sat beside her bed with his baby girl in his hands. Her fingers twitched like a current was surging through her veins, but as he’s eyes fell on her hand, the movement had stopped. Saara was making her way back, back to him, back to them …
When Ahmed looked up moments after feeding the baby her last sip of milk, Saara’s eyes were wide open, staring back at him and at the little girl in his arms.
” Saara”? He gasped in disbelief. He was aware that his tone was questioning and he hated how it sounded once her name rolled off his tongue but he was caught off guard. The doctor did not expect Saara to wake up for another few days. But it is Allah alone who controls everything, from life to death to everything in between.
Saara smiled weakly at him and he felt apprehension fill his lungs instead of air. What would she be like now? Would she be the same unfamiliar, aloof Saara? Would she wonder who was the child that he was cradling in his hand? Would she remember his decision to take a second wife?
“I’ll get a doctor”, he said as he pressed the alarm calling in the nurse on duty. Saara had not uttered a word to him and he had only the memories of the past few months to haunt him. Memories of a different Saara, a Saara who had forgotten him and who had wanted nothing to do with him. His head was abuzz with what was going to happen, his heart heavy with dread, as usual. He was so accustomed to this feeling by now. He expected the worst but he never stopped praying.
* a new life awaits everyone, but what kind of life is it?
Find out how the story ends in the last chapter.
*Part 9 available in the December issue of the Muslim Woman Magazine*