Ward number 25.
That was her home, where she belonged.
The doctors treated her like their own, the other patients left her and all she could manage to do was to say good-bye and to wish that ward number 25 would cease to be her identity someday.
Ward number 25 had all the secrets of her hearts, the answers, the puzzles, everything. Her cries when the world was asleep, her territory, that was home, it never ceased to comfort her. Funny right?
She remembered when he knocked the door to her heart, it felt strange at first. He portrayed the attributes of a thief, but that thief was so calm and so affectionate and he made her once dull life appear colorful. But all she could do was excavate memories, air them, and rejoice in them, memories that were to be cherished forever.
Photographers, they help capture our best moments and that was exactly what Khairat had for herself.
A big bag of endless memories with her one and only love, Bassam.
20th, March 2008.
A memorable day for both of them.
The day they both set their eyes on each other and all the crows suddenly sounded like the nightingale, the winds begun to sing songs of the demons and two hearts that were intertwined were dancing to no music but to the rhythm of their hearts.
“Will you be my friend?”
And it started to grow just like a seedling from a nothing to a fully matured plant. It was love that was to be envied by all. By then, nothing really mattered, it was just the memories that they were keeping until…
“Kalthum’s daughter is fit for him. She is of age, she is cute, she studied in Tarim and that is the perfect match for Bassam” Bassam’s mother tried to explain her point.
Their visas were already ready and they were supposed to leave for Oman soon and before anything else, just like in most Arab traditions, Bassam had to get married to an unknown girl, a girl that he was destined to fall in love with eventually according to the chain of traditions.
His heart skipped a beat, it could never be. No, not her, what about all the promises that they had made to each other? What about that love that they shared that was rapidly growing like a sapling in the rains?
It was difficult to win a battle with Bassam’s parents but he had to let it be known publicly that he had fallen in love with an Arab girl from another clan. Funny how cultures can be a times, right? That even people of the same tribe may sometimes not be allowed to marry someone from another clan.
And while she weaved her dreams, she did not know what fate had in store for her. Her phone rang, she picked it up and she had anticipated, the screen displayed the name of the man whose smile made the stars shy away and who had always made her believe that love is a journey measured in depths and never by miles.
“Khairat, Asalam Aleikum”
“Waaleikum salaam, Baassam, tell me what is up habiby”
“I have not so good news my love. My parents, they don’t want us together. They have someone for me in Oman”
Silence took over. The night suddenly felt as if it was home for the bats.
Ominous, yes portentous.
But why her? She had always faced a bad life. Her mother left her for her long-time mister, her father had passed away when she was very young and all she had was her grandmother and Bassam. It was not shining at all before he came in her life and now, it seemed like winter was back.
They were absorbed in that silence so much, each deep in thought and what Khairat could remember was a poem that Bassam had written for her after their second date and she had learned all the lines so well, it spoke his heart. It was a direct message to the heart.
What can this heart tell you?
How much I love you.
I can write it down with my tears,
So that no one can read it without me.
I will stay quiet and not utter a word,
And sleep for ages to come.
On the wet drenched roads, I wait for you,
You dweller of my heart, please take my soul with you.
Why is life complicated and why are human beings always concerned about who their kids marry? Are they the ones that will witness the cries behind closed doors? Or will they still pretend that since they survived with beatings and scolding, every modern child can survive as well.
Khairat still managed to keep herself strong, she had to still study and manage the morning chores. Her grandmother was extremely old and thus needed extra attention and care. How they ate, how each day passed was a struggle for the 22 year old girl but she had to keep it moving. Didn’t they say make lemonades out of the sour lemons?
20th March 2010,
The morning looked dull, the sun rays were as usually penetrating through the windows , this time they had a dull shade of blue and Khairat knew it was their D-Day, second anniversary. In as much as the ball was not in in their court, she felt that maybe someday, maybe when they see her, they will like her. She was a flowering of extravagant hope and again didn’t they say, if passion drives you, let reasons hold the reins?
They were supposed to meet at exactly 2:00pm, share the sweet nothings, and have some good blast before Bassam goes to Oman. She was elated at the same time sad. Mixed feelings, inevitable, love made her live in defiance of the inevitable.
“Please rush her to ward number 25, she seriously needs some blood, the doctor in charge has been called and he will be here in a jiff”
“Can someone please get some blood group A, serious condition. This one has to be rushed to the ICU ward soonest”
The nurse was overwhelmed, trying to wipe the blood that flowed. The whine of the police flashed past the hospital. It was a pathetic scene. The pool of blood was a whole scene on its own, let alone the direct hitting of the lady that was crossing the road.
Funny how life is, one time you are smiling, the other minute you are in a pool of blood, vulnerable, unsure about your future after both your legs are gone.
She was rushed to the ICU ward, half alive, half dead.
Bassam was unsure whether Khairat could really make it to the date, it was past time and he got worried incessantly. When he tried to call, this was the response “the number you are calling is currently unavailable. Please try again later”
And then while he sat down there still killing time, he checked his WhatsApp. “This people, why do they keep forwarding messages aimlessly, now what is this?” What he saw after downloading the image made his eyes pop out of their sockets (never mind the cliche)
Khairat had been crushed down by an unrecognized car, she was in Key view hospital and the major story was who was going to donate blood, blood group A was in demand.
The next minute he saw himself in the hospital, standing outside the ICU door. The nurse closed the door gently and motioned him towards the exit.
“You cannot get in”
Those words crunched and wrestled his existence, made him feel like a living dead. She was his home and he was her abode, she was his refuge and he was her shadow, she was his destination and he was the traveler in their story.
After three hours of examination and operation, the lights went off and the door was opened.
“How is she? Will she be able to live again?”
“She will be fine, don’t worry but her legs, I cannot promise”
Ward number 25, which was where her story was going to be all throughout her life until a Samaritan comes and rescues her from her woes and grief. Bassam looked sympathetically at the lady that was just from the operation room, she looked pale but her grace was still like before. That is why he loved her, she never gave up.
He stayed all through the night until she regained her consciousness.
“Bassam, please go away from me, I fear your dad, today I lost my legs, I don’t know what I will lose tomorrow”
Not believing his ears and at the same time not wanting to inflict more pain to the beautiful lady that was struggling to have her life back, he asked, not that he did not hear but just to hear it come out again.
“Yes, I saw your dad inside the car, and while I strived to get to the opposite side of the road, I noticed his car come at an extremely high speed, and the next thing I remember is now, you and this place that is soothed with antiseptics”
The expression on her angular face with its pointed jaw and thin mouth still looked determined but she was thinking hard as if she clearly got the point that Bassam was never going to be hers. And as they stared deeply at each other’s eyes, drawn back by the whole state of events like startled birds all that they could depict is that their love story was sealed by a curse.
They could never have a forever, not now when the forces were beyond control and the fight seemed to have no end, Bassam held her hand closely trying to prevent tears from flowing, kissed her on her forehead and muttered, “I will come back for you, I surely will and I will have you treated by the best specialist in the world”
Khairat managed a smile, she knew they had lost their battle and nothing could convince her otherwise not now when Bassam’s visa was out and he was supposed to head to Oman soon. She looked out at the pale light that was threading its way through the open curtains; she was forever going to be a host of ward number 25.
Her grandmother was being taken care of by the nuns at the “old age home” and while she tried her best to wake up better, she could not see any rays of hope except the little glimmer that Bassam left her with, “I will come back for you, I surely will and I will have you treated by the best specialist in the world”