The doctor’s solemn expression already told me he bore bad news. Muslimah and Hadiza squeezed my shoulders from either side of me. I steeled myself.
“Madam, I’m sorry. Your husband is in a coma… medically induced. It had to be done. He went into cardiac arrest while we were operating on him. It was the only way to save him at the time.”
Coma? Cardiac arrest? Wasn’t that the fancy medical name for a heart attack? Panic began to rise in my chest, but I squelched it. I had to find out more.
“What-what kind of surgery?”
The doctor exhaled a deep sigh. “Your husband suffered a terrible injury- a piece of metal had lodged itself into his spine and we had to get it out.”
Subhanallah! Even Hadiza gasped. Again I tried to control my raging emotions.
“When- when will you be bringing him out of the coma?”
“In about five days, we’ll take him off life support, then wake him.”
“C-can I see him?” I held my breath
“Yes, of course, madam. But I can’t allow you inside his room until he’s out of the woods.”
That was completely fine with me. The most important thing to me now was to lay eyes on my husband. The trio of us filed after the doctor as he led us to Abdul’s room. Only one thought echoed through my subconscious on the way there right up till we arrived at his room. The thought bounced across the walls of my mind, over and over until I was sure it’d drive me mad.
It’s all my fault. Everything is all your fault Jemima
If I hadn’t been so damned stubborn. If I had simply listened. If I hadn’t left. Abdul would be safe at home, and not in this wretched hospital fighting for his life.
Through the glass window of his room, I watched his chest rise and fall with each laboured breath he took. Hot tears stung the back of my eyes, before finding their way down my face. I so badly wanted to go inside and be with him. My fingers ached to touch him, my tongue itched to tell him how much he meant to me.
“It’s not fair.” I whispered, my tears almost choking me “I should be in there with him.”
“I know. But you heard the doctor, Jemima.” Muslimah whispered back.
I nodded slowly and closed my eyes. Ya Allah heal him for me, please. If you bring him back, I promise to never take him for granted ever again. Please just save him. For my sake and that of his unborn child
Suddenly overcome by grief, my knees buckled, and I collapsed to the floor. Immediately, my friends tried to lift me up.
“Jemima, you’ve had enough for one day. It’s time to get back to the hospital.” Hadiza said gently.
They both managed to get me up and lead me out into the car. All through our ride back, I couldn’t take my mind off everything that happened over the course of 24 hours. Abdul was in his current predicament because of the choices I made. But… deep down I also knew that if I hadn’t made said choices, I’d never have come to realise just how precious Abdul and our marriage were to me. And Hadiza would most likely not have her baby with her now.
I spared her a sideways glance from the passenger seat. She seemed so calm and content. As she always was. To think that I had done most of the things I did because of my unhealthy obsession to be like her. To be better than her. To beat her, at a game of my own making, where only I knew the rules. Everything was clear to me now. The snippets of conversation I’d gleaned before coming to earlier at the hospital said as much. Hadiza had had serious problems in her own life and marriage, and perhaps if I’d been a better friend I’d have known. That’s what friends are for right? But I wasn’t one of the good friends. I was an envious pretender who only ever harboured evil thoughts against someone who sincerely loved me.
A sudden feeling of shame enveloped my entire being. How foolish I’ve been! While I was pining after Hadiza’s seemingly perfect life, I’d neglected to nourish and invest in mine. Now my marriage was on the verge of collapse while I’d single-handedly ‘fixed’ hers. Irony? Fate? Or Allah’s way of teaching me a lesson and showing me what I was almost throwing away.
Hadiza must have felt my eyes on her because she took her eyes away from the road for just a fraction of a second and looked my way. She smiled and gazed at me with so much love and gratitude, I had to look away. I don’t deserve that look Hadiza. If you knew who I truly am, you’d hate me.
“Thank you.” She mouthed, reaching out to squeeze my palm.
I smiled back, not trusting myself to speak.
No, Hadiza. Thank you. And I’m sorry.
I hope that one day I’ll have the courage to tell her this.