• 24 Nov - 30 Nov, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

As I sat at the breakfast table prolonging the start of the day as long as I could, I began to reminisce how this year, this summer break and basically the past entire two months had been like a culmination of the old and the beginning of a new era for me. I died and was reborn. Losing Noor was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me, to us as couple. But I survived. We survived. Fawad and I. Fate had tested us to the limit and I should think that we had come out alright. We were the victims of the battle but had survived the war, and had the scars to prove our struggle but we had come out alive.

Life. It’s the toughest teacher I will ever know. “Once you've savoured the dark, you’ll see the light.” A fond quote came to mind.

It’s not about the struggle and the injuries it’s about picking yourself up after the fall. I knew that piecing together the broken parts was where the answer lie. Will God ever bestow me with the child I so craved for? I didn’t know the answer to that but until He did I had to find a way through the darkness.

“And someday when you find your heart weighing like a mountain on your chest and your mind is fighting a hurricane threatening to take you to places you dread going to and show you things you would never wish to see, let me be the hand you can reach out for and hold on to. In a world constantly on fire, I’ll tell you stories of the ones who survived.

When anger engulfs you and your soul cries to abandon an existence so exhausting, let me sit you down and tell you about the stars who died a billion years ago so that we could, someday, write poetry about them.

I will tell you about the 37 trillion cells working in perfect harmony so that your beautiful body could smile, talk, eat, sing, dance, flirt, love, discover and create magic to let the stars know that they still shine just as bright.

Let me tell you that it’s okay – that it’s going to hurt and you have to let it hurt sometimes. It’s not going to hurt forever.

Tabby rubbed itself against my leg. I held him up. He was becoming quite large and heavy now, growing at an insanely fast pace. Fawad wanted me to release him to the outdoors and I agreed. He needed to find a mate and also learn survival in nature. It was inhuman and unnatural to keep him locked up indoors. Plus, once I would be off at work he would be alone for a huge amount of time. Keeping him away from his own species and contact with other people was just mean.

“Are you ready for the outdoors baby? I’ll let you out today for a bit. See how that feels?”

With that I opened the front door and let him step out into the garden. I knew he would be meowing at the door soon enough. But while he was there the sunshine and fresh air would do him good.

I set about getting my wardrobe fixed. School was due to start next week. I checked for the things I needed and made a “to do” list. I would go out shopping today and get everything. A new bag and new shoes, a few articles of clothing and stationary. Lots of stationary! A teacher cannot live without her pouch of magical wonders. That pouch sometimes held an entire year’s supply of stationary; in fact it held the entire shop at times!

I laughed inwardly at how other teachers would seek me out whenever they needed something for their classrooms. I was always willing to help. I understood the challenge.

My timetable was emailed to me a few days ago. I wasn’t happy with it at all. My principle had given me too many working slots and I felt that this year would be tough. But in a way I was happy. It would be a distraction. When I showed it to Fawad he became very upset. He wanted me to resign. He knew that they were cutting down on costs by not hiring another person and he knew that they were loading me with more work to maximise their profits and it was just unfair.

In fact we had almost had a mini fight over it.

“Resign now Saima. You’re a human being, not a machine. You wanted to open up your own place. You’ve wanted to do it for a while. I’ll invest in that endeavour. Take the leap Saima. Be your own boss finally.”

I thought for a bit before replying. My wounds were still fresh and I thought that I would work at my job for another year before launching my own institute. I knew Saman was on board with me. I would use this year to find potential teacher and students and then set up my own place.

“I’ll just work this year too and then next year I’ll take that quantum leap. I want to do it. I’m planning for it. I just need one more year to do it.”

“Saima, what are you afraid of? I have your back. You can do it. Take that step now. I’m ready to give you all my time and energy and funds.”

I had sat there looking at Fawad with an empty look. Did I lack the emotional energy and the drive to take this step? Finding my emotional equilibrium had been the hardest after Noor’s demise. I lacked the drive. I had lost the passion. But I couldn’t tell Fawad all that. It would take him to ground zero. He was so passionate about this plan and I felt that I would dampen his spirits to the point of no return.

The New Year at school also felt daunting. My commitment was undying though. I couldn’t back out now.

They were counting on me.

One more year I kept telling myself, one more year.

I freshened up and texted Fawad that I was going out shopping and I would be back home around mid-afternoon. He texted back to join him for lunch if my work was done early enough. I replied that I would. His office cafeteria food was too good to be missed. It would be better than having lunch alone at home any day.

Tabby had his fair share of freedom and was waiting patiently to be let in. I told him that I would be back soon and let him inside as I walked out with my list in hand and my bag with the credit card. Hmmmm. Plastic. Felt good to use it! The psychology behind it of course was to make the consumer overspend. And today I felt I was bound to do that.

I felt my head spin as I sat in the car and for a minute I paused. I had been feeling down the weather slightly since a few days but I attributed it to the change in weather. Karachi was so unpredictable with its weather, one day burning hot the other day pleasantly breezy. I couldn’t turn back now. I was on a dead line. I set out praying that the traffic wouldn’t be too bad.

I went straight to my favourite store in Bahadurabad. I would get a new bag and most of the stationary from there while I could then go to the mall to get some new outfits and shoes.

My shopping was going well but mid-day as I was driving to the mall I began to feel nausea. I decided to turn around and go straight to Fawad’s office.

I would join him for a nice and filling lunch and then go on to the mall to finish my day.

As I pulled into the parking lot I began to feel dizzy again. I parked my car and texted Fawad that I was in the lot and I would be at his floor in a bit.

With that I stepped out of the car but before I could do anything my ears started to buzz and black spots appeared before my eyes.

Then darkness.

When I didn’t show up in next ten minutes Fawad got worried. He came down to the lot to see what had become of me.

Apparently he found me surrounded by the guards and a few of the office personnel who had been there at the time I had fainted. They were helping semi-conscious me into the car while getting water and juice to help revive me.

Eye-witnesses reported that I had simply stepped out of the car and crashed to the ground. My purse and keys in my hand.

Bumping into the car as I fell cushioned the blow before I hit the ground. I seemed unhurt but I was considerably shook up. I was feeling very weak and jittery. My ears were still buzzing and my vision was blurred. Thank God I hadn’t passed out while driving.

I could sense Fawad joining the crowd, telling people to move away. As typically as all roadside scenarios in our country, everyone was speaking in loud voices trying to fill the gaps of information of how I parked and then hit the ground. All newcomers had to be filled in too. The play button was pressed several times and I was sure we all knew what happened to me in great, graphic detail.

My ears were hurting from all the noise. I was glad that Fawad was able to clear them out by thanking them for all their help and that he had it from here on.

“I’ve got it. Thanks! I’ll take care of her. Don’t worry. It’s ok. Yes I’ll take her to a doctor. No she isn’t sick. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe she didn’t have breakfast. No, I don’t think so. Thanks. Please I need to be next to her.”

Wow. The average man really worries about a damsel in distress in our country.

“Saima, what’s wrong? Can you sit up?”

Fawad was finally by my side. He held my hand and helped me into a sitting position. But my head started spinning again and I lied down again. He made me take a sip of juice.

“I should take you to doctor.”

“No Fawad, I’m ok. Just let me lie down for a bit and then I’ll go to the cafeteria with you. I had a very light breakfast. Maybe my sugar levels dropped. I don’t want to see any doctor.” I protested weakly. But Fawad was not buying it.

“You’ve been feeling lethargic lately and now this. Something’s up. Let me grab my things from upstairs and inform my boss. Here’s your purse. I have your keys. You stay put and I’ll be back in no time.”

He left before I could reply.

“I’m not going to run away, you don’t have to take my keys.” I nimbly called out.

Fawad was so much more dramatic than I was at times.

As I sat there feeling my head spin and my ears buzz I was also genuinely worried. I had practically never fainted in my life and here I was. I was also dreading seeing a doctor, all those tests. Sigh. And what with work starting next week I felt the timing was so wrong.

Life doesn’t wait or ask before sending a curve ball our way. It was what it was and I had to suck it up no matter what.

I shut my eyes tight against the glaring sun.

“Saima, should I move you to the front?”

I didn’t realise Fawad had come back.

“No. I want to lay down.”

With that I bent over and slumped back into the seat.

Fawad locked and shut the door. I could hear him sit into the driver’s seat.

He took me to the hospital where I had given birth to Noor. He knew the consulting doctors would be on call and I could maybe see my own gynaecologist.

I tried telling him that I didn’t need to see her and he could just take me to any ER but he wasn’t putting me into just anybody’s care.

My doctor would know what to do. He trusted her judgment. We were there soon enough. He arranged for a wheel chair and wheeled me to the OPD.

My doctor already had patients but as I was brought in her PA arranged for me to go in directly. Fawad had called in earlier telling them about my condition.

On the examining table I was asked a number of questions and gave my doctor all the information she needed. There was no indication of anything being seriously wrong but she ordered a glucose drip and a Vitamin B injection to restore my energy.

“Close your eyes Saima and rest. I’ll speak to Fawad outside to calm him down. He’s very worried. I’ll come back to take some blood and also do an ultrasound, but right now you need to feel better.”

She stepped out while the drip started to feed me the strength I needed.

I closed my eyes. I was feeling better already. I could hear muffled voices. I was relaxed now. At least it didn’t seem serious. Fawad came in and held my hand. I opened my eyes to meet his smiling face.

I loved him so much. There was no place in the world that I’d rather be than here, with the love of my life smiling down at me, caring for me, treating me like a queen and cherishing my presence.

The drugs were having their effect I thought. I love him but not like the fairy tales! Uff Saima, get a grip.

I closed my eyes again.

My doctor returned with her necessary equipment to take my blood sample.

“Are you up to it Saima? Before that I’ll do the ultrasound though.”

Fawad made a move to leave. She asked him to stay.

“I want you to stay. I’ve got this.”

She prepped me for the procedure. It wasn’t particularly disagreeable. I kind of liked that cool gel and that smooth apparatus roll itself around my tummy.

Doc turned on the monitor and scrutinised the images. She did not look worried.

She didn’t give us a prelude of what was to follow though. She suddenly turned the monitor toward us and turned up the volume.

Fawad and I saw a distorted image of water and a bleep blinking in the center.

We heard a faint heartbeat cushioned within the slushing sounds of my insides.

I couldn’t trust what I saw. Fawad was also muted in disbelief. After a long pause, he finally asked, albeit cautiously, “Is it what I think it is?”

“Yes! It’s the heartbeat of your baby. Congratulations Saima! You’re pregnant!”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I turned to see Fawad’s beaming face.

The beep continued to blink as if to proclaim its existence and to celebrate our happiness! The magic of life!