“AS a doctor, I had to visit an elderly and helpless patient in his home. According to medical records, he was suffering from cancer and there was no hope of his recovery. After rejecting all type of care, he preferred to remain at home.
“When I arrived at his home, I used the secret number to open the lock on the door of the house that was known to us. The patient’s dog was waiting for me and did not make any attempt to bark, but instead looked like it wanted me to find its master.
“I walked toward the room, I found him lying on the bed. Everything around was messed up. The carpet had stains, letters and newspapers were scattered all over the place and even the dog’s food was thrown here and there.
“The house was cold, dull and damp. The fireplace was covered in dirt. The analgesic drugs were scattered on the floor of the room and at first glance it became obvious the drugs might have fallen from his trembling hands.
“In the midst of the mess I saw a picture of the late eminent Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum hanging on the wall and half filled glass of wine on the table. The patient looked at me and asked me if I was an Arab, and I told him yes, I am an Iraqi. He said: He pointed at the picture and asked, ‘Do you know her’? I said: Of course I know her’.
“He asked: ‘What is her name’? I asked: ‘Why did you put her picture on the wall if you don’t know her’?
“He said: ‘It was my wife who put it there. She liked the singer very much, she loved her a lot, and she is Iraqi like you. Her family was forced to leave Iraq, because they were Jews, but because they were against occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, she preferred to seek refuge in the UK.
“And I, a British Jew met her at a synagogue and fell in love with her, and I promised to return to Iraq to live there, but I did not dare to take risk. She did not stop dreaming of her return and hear the song of Umm Kulthum, every day, for forty years.
“I asked him if he knows the song and he replied in the negative, but his wife, Haseeba, told him the meaning of the song Aghadan Alqak? ‘Will I meet you tomorrow?’ When I told him I know the song, he told me he wants to hear the song, and he literally begged me. He said Haseeba dedicated the song to Iraq.
“I went back to the clinic and played the song and he listened to it through the landline. I went back to him the next day and he thanked me so much and said: ‘You are better than me, you have fulfilled the wish of a dying man but I did not fulfill the wish of my wife before she died.”
Dr Alia Al-Kindi continued saying since that I have made it a point to listen to the song of Umm Kulthum (Am I going to meet you tomorrow?) every day, perhaps she would be luckier than Haseeba, and see Iraq one day.
The story of Alia ended with quotes. The lyrics are written by the great Sudanese Hadi Adam, and composed by Abdul Wahab, dated back to 1971. The beginning of the lyrics says:
Am I going to meet you tomorrow? How terrified my heart is from my tomorrow.
What a longing and burning from the waiting on our date.
Oh how much am I afraid of that tomorrow of mine, and how much I am wishing for it to get closer.
I wished to get closer and closer to it but now I’m afraid of it why am I afraid of it?
And the happiness shined on me when he agreed.
This way I can withhold my life with all it is happiness and suffering.
Pure soul and a heart that melted when it was touched by my love
Am I going to meet you tomorrow?
I read that story, I felt sad and was thinking, probably for a thousand times, in all this hostility and hatred that we hold for each other, and how we have allowed for the militants and mobs and others to drag us to their extremism.
They make us hate anyone who is not part of our religion or our community, and convince us that they are the only ones perfect among the more than seven billion people and others are not and destined to go to hell.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf