Turmoil

TURMOIL- 33

Chapter Thirty-three

 Jemima XII

 

In the hospital’s waiting room I stared ahead, looking at nothing in particular. A T.V played quietly in one corner, no doubt placed there as a distraction for the sick and their escorts. The seats right next to me were occupied by Hajia and ‘Atikah yet the strained atmosphere surrounding us three would’ve led a random observer into believing we were strangers. The tension hung over us like a dark, foreboding cloud, ready to unleash a storm. I knew they were only seated beside me because the only other seats available were squeezed between a man who was sweating profusely and a woman holding a shivering boy, who leaned forward every other minute to spray the air with loud, wheezing coughs. The knowledge stung and only served to aggravate the numbness I felt inside.

Numerous pings from my phone shattered the uncomfortable silence. I cringed as Hajia’s eyes fell on me, a disapproving look on her face. I hastily replied to A’isha’s message in the group then switched my phone off. My mind replayed the conversation … no it could hardly be termed that. A confrontation would be the more suitable word for everything that had occurred mere moments earlier.

I was stunned into silence when Hajia had stormed into the building, screaming bloody murder. Alhamdulillah, the waiting room had been near empty then, else we’d have had ourselves an audience.

“Where’s my son?!” She’d demanded, stopping right in front of me. Hajia was a petite woman, more than a few inches shorter than I was, but never in my life had I felt so afraid than I’d been in that moment. I fumbled for the right words to no avail.

“Can’t you speak? Where is he?!”

“Hajia calm down, dan Allah. Please.”

I hadn’t even noticed Atikah behind Hajia until she spoke.  Despite the grim circumstances, the familiar tinge of jealousy had reared its head right there and then, and a part of me had longed to reach out and scratch out her beautiful eyes. I succeeded though, in restraining myself.  Already I knew ‘Atikah must have filled Hajia in on all my theatrics and the destruction I had left behind at the house. The damage is already done, I’d thought, so I steeled myself and forced my wayward voice to speak.

“He’s being moved from the ICU into the main ward.” I pointed in the direction of the ward. “We should be able to see him when they’ve finished settling him in.”

Hajia had narrowed her eyes at me, hands on her hips. “You stupid girl! My son is fighting for his next breath in there because of you and your foolish antics!”

I’d flinched then. Hajia’s words hit home. I cleared my throat to prevent myself from breaking down in tears.

“I know, Hajia. Wallahi, I wish I could trade places with him. Believe me, I understand how you feel…”

“No, you don’t understand anything, Jemima.” Hajia had said, stepping even closer to me. “Your jealousy, all the crazy shenanigans were all for nothing!” ‘Atikah had placed an arm around her shoulders, and she’d patted it. “’Atikah here was only playing a role. Acting out a ruse. Abdul was desperate for you to come to your senses, really be his wife and not think of someone other than yourself for once in your selfish life!” Hajia had shaken her head, furiously wiping the tears that had started streaming down her cheeks with the edge of her hijab. “I warned him when he told me, but he wouldn’t listen, even swore me to secrecy…”.

“What do you mean?” I’d interrupted, my voice a strained whisper.

“Your husband and I aren’t married – can never be.” ‘Atikah spoke this time. “He’s my uncle. He thought I’d be a perfect candidate as you’d never met me before, so I agreed…”

I’d heard no more, could only gape at them both, dumbfounded. This must be a sick joke, I’d thought. ‘Atikah and Abdul had been inseparable these past few weeks– eating together, going out together, even sleeping together. Or had they? A sudden realisation hit me then. I had never seen ‘Atikah without her hijab, even while in the house. Also, I had never truly witnessed them sharing more than brief, chaste hugs. Nothing like the ones he and I had shared. It all became clear to me then. If only I hadn’t been so stubborn or wrapped up in avenging the supposed wrong done to me, I’d have seen what was right in front of me.

Every ounce of strength I possessed left me in that instant. I’d stumbled backward and slumped into the seat right behind me, shaking my head and shedding silent tears…

xxxxxx.

The thought that plagued me then and still did presently was- why? Why had Abdul gone to such lengths to make me listen? Deep down I knew the answer, but I didn’t have the courage to admit it- even to myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw ‘Atikah with her palms raised, making du’a.  I studied her; this slip of girl I had disliked for being my husband’s amarya, the ‘rival’ that I had so badly wanted gone as soon as I set eyes on her. I was mortified, to say the least. Why had she agreed to do it, I wondered? Why hadn’t she come to me, woman to woman, and confessed everything? Surely that would have been better than enduring the hostilities I dished out to her. How I would redeem myself remained a mystery to me. But I vowed to try, as soon as Abdul got better…

“Are you Mr Abdul Yankari’s family?”

“Yes,” I said, springing from my seat. Hajia and ‘Atikah did the same. I nodded at the orderly, eager for news about Abdul. “Is everything alright? He’s been moved?”

“Yes. The doctors asked me to fetch you. Follow me please.”

The orderly led us out of the waiting room, up a row of stairs, and into a hallway that housed the nurse’s station.

“Thank you.” One of the nurses said to the orderly, who smiled at us before going back the way we came. The nurse turned to us. “I will take you to see Mr. Abdul now.” She led the way down a long corridor lined with rooms on both sides and people waiting without. I tried my best to not fall apart amidst all the bleeps and pings of equipment all around me. The overpowering smell of antiseptic triggered nausea within me, yet I forged on. For Abdul’s sake I would be strong.

The nurse stopped by the last room at the very end of the corridor. The doctor from the day before stood without, obviously waiting for us. He smiled. yet I couldn’t bring myself to return it.

“How is he doing doctor?” Hajia asked without warning.

The doctor raised a brow at me. “I don’t think I know…”

“Doctor, this is my husband’s mother and his wi… niece.” I cut in.

“Oh, I see. Well, Mr. Abdul is doing well, as can be expected of someone in his situation. His vitals are looking good and as I explained yesterday, we should be bringing him out of the coma…”

“Coma! Wayyo Allah!” Hajia exclaimed. She hugged herself, rocking back and forth.

“Please calm down madam. We had to medically induce him into a coma during the operation but as I was saying, we will bring him back in a few days, all things being equal. After that, we will try to access if any other damage has been done. For now, however, we wait.”

All things will be equal biidhnillah and my husband will return to me completely healed, I said to myself.

“Thank you, doctor. Can we see him now?”

“Of course.” The doctor stepped aside, allowing us entry into the room.

Hajia flew to Abdul’s side immediately. Sobbing quietly, she knelt by the bed, then cradled one of his limp hands in hers. ‘Atikah followed, going to stand by Hajia’s side. She was crying as well. I went in last.

Although the room was unfamiliar as we entered, lying in that hospital bed was a soul that would have given everything for me had I but asked. Under that oxygen mask lay a soul that I had taken for granted for far too long. Tangled beneath all the IV tubes and machine wires lay a soul I had wronged- hopefully not beyond repair.

The sight of Abdul in that state, coupled with the sounds of the heart monitor and Hajia’s pitiful sobs all became too much for me.

I could bear it no more. I ran out of the room, searching blindly for a secluded place. I found the restrooms and I burst in slamming the door shut. I leaned back against the door and allowed myself to slide down to the floor. I pushed my knees up and hugged them, as much as my pregnant stomach would allow.  This time I allowed the dam to burst forth and my tears fell in torrents; ugly heart-wrenching sobs that shook my whole being. I remained there alone, in a pitiful mess of tears and hiccups and snot, with no hope of finding comfort.

It was more than I deserved after all.


Poor Jemima.

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