Four Years Ago

The sunlight rolled in through one of the chinks in the curtains; the aim - a bullseye. My eyes made a quick retraction into the eye sockets, in a vague attempt to avoid stirring the sleep, but the damage had already been done. My eyeballs rummaged about a bit, reluctant to give in, before pulling the eyelids open to the sunbathed room, only seconds later.

The room stood at its usual best. The clock sat itself quietly on the wall in front of me, inches above the doors that pushed into the dining room. Eleven past the hour, it read. Tiny parachutists and yachts rocked back and forth around the two hands - a design that was beyond my wildest imagination. To be quite frank, I was never in the favour of it, in the first place. But as the youngest in a family of six, things seldom worked your way, I had learnt.

My brain yawned. Recollections of the night before rolled over. A gothic song I had heard on television seemed to have been stuck in my head. I calculated the hours of sleep I had had. I usually did that.

About seven, told me a rather dazed brain of mine.

But, yes, it was Friday. Still a weekend. At least by Saudi Arabian standards.

By that time, my mind had figured out it wanted me to go to the loo. I had to pee. Like mad. So, I pulled myself up. Did some more yawning and stretching, and made my way out of the guest room.

My houseboy, who had a spare key, had let himself in and was busy ironing away the laundry. He gave me a silent greeting, as I went past to use the toilet.

Every other Friday, my Mum's gossip into the telephone would have broken the otherwise silence that had filled the house that day. But she was away in Makkah for the weekend. I had to stay back as exams were in progress. It sucked, pretty much, it did. But, there was little I could do.

A cheesecake awaited me in the refrigerator, so I remembered. That is, unless my Dad hadn't gotten to it, first.

You see, we both had a sweet-tooth. So sugary and junk foods, were a definite yes-yes. Which is why it was hard to leave something the night over, in the hope to devour it in the morning, since it was more than likely one of us would always get to it before the other. And that's how it always had worked.

I opened the gigantic refrigerator door. Cold air rushed out to greet me, sending shivers down my spine. My body cringed in a response stimuli. The cheesecake peered at me, from between all the other eatables. I reached out for it, set it on the table, and shoved the door behind me.

Click, I switched the electric kettle on. Tea and cheesecake. My idea of a weekend-without-Mum breakfast. Turning over a washed tea mug, the one I always used - a murky green one that my Dad said looked like a toad - I wondered if my Dad had had anything for breakfast, yet.

Just in case, I set two mugs on the kitchen counter. The swooshing and the swishing noises had started erupting in the kettle, by now. While the water reached its boiling point, I decided to pop in to see what my Dad was up to.

His snores were still ringing in my ears, from last night. Wild snores. That's what my Mum used to call them. Over the years, though, she had grown immune to them. So she never seemed to be fussed with them. We, unfortunately, hadn't still quite gotten used to them...

His door was ajar. He was still asleep, I could make out. Orange peels lay curled up in a plate next to him.


I crept in quietly, to clean up the litter. I made sure not to wake him up, as I slithered out the door, to dump the peels in the bin in the kitchen, and put the plate away in the basin, for the houseboy to clean up, later.

Just then, my eyes fell on the stack of two-minute noodles on one of the counters; I recalled my Dad asking me to make him a packet, yesterday, but I had said I was feeling lazy, "so I will make you some tomorrow."

I guess I could have made some for him, now, before the houseboy and I left for prayers.

Yes, my Dad hardly ever prayed. My Mum used to say it was his way of showing anguish to God, for giving him an array of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. And she said, it was between him and Him, and so I never really argued with either of them about it.

Anyways, I had to go wake him up to see if he still wanted those noodles. And then I also had to squeeze in a quick revision for the Chemistry exam tomorrow, that I had studied jack for the days before.

Once again, I slipped into his room. He hadn't stirred a wink, I saw. He lay sideways, one arm to his side, the other resting under his neck, in one of those deep-in-thought poses.

I sat to one side of the bed. Just sat there, watching him sleep peacefully.

"Papa." I called out then, softly. He didn't respond.

Okay, perhaps that was a bit too soft.

"Papa?" I called out, a little louder this time. He still didn't move.

My heart did a weird jump in my chest. My eyes swept to his ballooned stomach (a by-product of the insulin that he injected in himself three to four times a day). It wasn't rising and falling, as it normally does when you respire.

My heart stopped for a second. No, it was just my imagination, I said to myself. Jumping to conclusions, too soon, said a re-assuring voice in my head.

My poured my hand over him, and gave him a gentle shake. A push, even. "Papa?"

No reply.

I reached for his hand, without thinking, and nearly jumped back in shock. It was icy cold. As cold as I had never experienced before. Touched before.

My mind raced. I clicked the light switch, and looked round at him. Only to splutter in horror.

The blood had frozen on the end that he lay. A foreboding blue.

Eyes closed. Head titled. Half blue.

I knew what had happened. I knew it. It was all over. My mind kept repeating it to me, as if it had been expecting it. But, I just wasn't ready to accept it. Not yet. Not now. It couldn't be happening so soon...

Not to me...Not to us...



  1. Cardiac arrest.

    And then, life happened.

  2. Oh my god.
    Yes, Now I remember. I had heard this story before. I get it, that's how I knew you! It happened while you were in school! I remember well now.

    Oh god, I'm so sorry.
    If one of us had to face such a tragedy, we would never have been able to make it out with our emotions the way you did. May Allah always be with him, and with you. Ameen.

  3. I remember this. At school. Oh, tragedy.
    We're all sorry, but like shaz said May Allah always be with him, and may He grant him a place in Paradise Ameen.

    And then, life happened.