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Saturday , September 21 2019

‘Don’t wait for Bed No. 8’

At that time, I felt like life would last only for a minute. I saw the entire world resting on a white bed, covered with an oxygen mask, and inner lining of the heart that gorged both the sky and my heart. Indeed, life was in a slumber while I was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

I saw myself standing as a small homeless barefooted kid in torn clothes and filled with fear and hunger, monitoring the pulse line on the flat screen. I could see myself on that screen when I was ten and in the cold winter, my face covered with soap foam and standing in the corner of a small bathroom as the red kerosene heater in the middle of the room attempted to moderate the temperature.

I could see my mother pulling up her hair from her face as if she is trying to get rid of it and her hands covered with scented soap to clean my tiny body. I see her calling out to my siblings with love and telling them to prepare for their turn. It was in the 1980s when everything around us was simple and spontaneous.

The pulse lines on the flat screen were not just lines for the expert doctor to analyze; in fact, it was me from the age of five until 45 during which my life was monitored by those lines and the intermittent beeps. The sight was blurry but the memory wasn’t; actually, my memory was as clear as ever before, although this time, it was accompanied with fear.

Whenever a crew of nurses surrounded me, I screamed inside for them to move because I was suffocating – absence was suffocating me and I wanted my mother.

I wanted to remain with the image of that great woman, as she stood next to the breathing device, of her going to school after she was not able to complete her education because she got married and had to take care of us, all of which consumed her time. She returned once again to school to complete her studies when I was in the third grade.

In the same flat screen next to bed No. 8, I saw her walking to the evening school and leaving us behind with one of the most loyal women in this world – a true Egyptian woman. My mother entrusted us in her care when she wasn’t around, and also when she traveled with my father.

We believed her when she told us that those who fail to sleep on time, her set of teeth placed in a glass of water next to her bed will walk and bite us. This loyal woman knocked the doors of the Kuwaiti Embassy during the 1990 invasion to inquire about us.

I could see my father in his black car, and sitting on the passenger seat was my mother. My siblings and I squeezed in the backseat, and we were all fond of the drive-in cinema which had taken the wheel of delusional development.

I witnessed my memories while in room No. 8, all of which appeared like a movie taken in real time. All that I had was the face of my mother which Allah preserved it for me, filled with love and mercy, and my face at the age of 14, standing before a mirror and clipping my nails, and my mother straightening my hair with her skillful touch, and preparing my dress for school.

I had forgotten everything. I had forgotten my children who I had left in Kuwait. I had forgotten that I am a mother and a grandmother, and that I lived as a child and suddenly I grew up near bed No. 8.

Perhaps, this bed might not mean a thing to anyone, and perhaps, I might be the cause for agitating hearts that have lost their mothers. All they can do is to visit them time to time from where they are lying.

I might be causing discomfort to someone who have not visited her for two years due to a dispute that occurred between them or between her siblings, and due to arrogance, such a person decides not to cut them off and to be undutiful to their parents.

I might be striking a cord with someone who pleases his wife at the expense of his parents. Such a person should be certain that he will taste ungratefulness through his wife and children before he passes on.

Therefore, for those whose parents are long gone and for some reason, they couldn’t be kind to them, they can compensate by being kind to those who were close to them when they were still alive, even if you are not fond of them.

Don’t wait for bed no. 8, they might have preceded you to it.

By Intisar Al-Ma’atouq

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