When he regained consciousness he could not open his eyes. He felt being jerked back and forth at first. Then the sounds began to resonate in his ears. He heard people, a lot of people talking while he was being carried around. The strong smell of blood and medication swelled in his nose, and all he wanted was to open his eyes. But he was too weak for it, so he gave in to unconsciousness again.
He woke up to the sound of sniffing and sobbing, with someone holding his hand. The hand was soft and delicate. The hand was for someone he knew. Someone he loved. It was Karen’s. He still could not open his eyes, but he tried with all his strength to squeeze her hand, to let her know he was alive, to let her know she did not lose him. It broke his heart to know she was crying for him. But before he could squeeze her hand, he drifted into sleep again.
He opened his eyes, and squinted to the white lighting. He could feel he was wired up with tubes running oxygen in his nose, and saline pumping in his veins. He could hear the sounds of beeping around him, and could only make out the outline of someone jumping to his feet, and he heard his mother’s gasp.
“Habibi, you’re awake. Oh thank you lord, thank you for keeping my child.” She lifted her hands in the air in prayer before grabbing his hand and kissing it.
“I thought I lost you, my love. I thought I would lose you.” It took him a while to make out distinct features, and when he did, he saw her eyes were swollen, and her tears flowing. She kept kissing his hands, and thanking God for saving him. He felt so guilty about the fact that he had put her and everyone who loved him through so much worry. He wanted to hug his mother, and hold her tight, tell her how sorry he is and allow his tears.
But he could not move his head, he could not even speak. He could only open his eyes and keep them open, and even that took him too much energy. But he squeezed his mother’s hand and she let out a scream of joy. Her son was alive, and her heart was almost rested. He instantly thought about Karen, and wanted to ask but words did not come out, and then he remembered the reason he was in that hospital. He had found out how he will develop his book. He felt comforted he still remembered, and he drifted into sleep once again.
His mother and father were in the middle of an argument when he woke up next. He’d gotten used to it so much lately that he did not bother think about what it was that time. As soon as they noticed he had woken, the argument stopped, and they both stood by his bed, his mother smiling down on him, while his father had a frown on his face.
“Hey.” He could finally speak. Although his voice was sore, as though he hadn’t spoken in years.
“What the hell did you get yourself into?” His father blurted. But before Karim could even take in what his father had said, his mother winced at him and cut through.
“Thank God for your safety, sweety. Your friends have been calling and asking about you. I told them you were okay. Are you in pain habibi? Tell me what can I do for you?”
Karim’s eyes were locked on his father. He was so full of hatred for that man and resisted the idea of asking him to leave him and his mother alone. For the past few years he had been nothing but abusive to his family. He would get angry at no occasion. He would criticize everything, including every choice Karim had made, especially when he found out he had set his mind to become a full time writer. He had told him he was destroying his life, that he was a spoiled, good for nothing mama’s boy. And Karim would allow his insults. Year after year he endured it, because he knew that if he did not bear his words, his mother would take the full load of them. And he loved his mother more than anyone in the world, and the thought of her going through that pain with his father nearly broke his heart.
He looked at his mother again, and her soft eyes made him feel it was okay. His mother was in the room and that meant the world was fine.
“Karen.” He said. Talking took out a lot of energy, but he wondered where Karen had gone.
“What about her, my love?” His mother’s eyes were confused.
“Where did she go?” He closed his eyes as he talked. He felt the pain meds were losing their effect and his whole body was hurting, especially his legs and neck.
“Wh- what do you mean where did she go? She was never- Karim , habibi, are you still talking to that girl?”
“I can’t believe this. After everything we’ve told you! You’ve been sneaking behind our backs to see her?” His fathersuddenly said, his anger surfacing.
“Rachid, this is not the time or place to– Oh doctor, good evening. Is everything alright?” Karim could tell his mother felt relieved the doctor had just come in for her to avoid an argument with his father.
“Hello Karim, I see you’ve woken up.” The doctor smiled from under his spectacles. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine.” It was all Karim could say without his pain increasing.
“That’s good.” The doctor said with his smile almost vanishing. ”We were able to fix all your injuries from the accident. Some of them were severe, the glass had cut through your back, and you had fractured your legs and neck, but there won’t be any permanent damage.” He was trying his best to keep his smile, which Karim noticed. He knew something was wrong.
“Thank God.” His mother let out a gasp of relief.
“But we also found something else.” The doctor seemed nervous.
“What do you mean something else? Something else like what?” His mother’s eyes had widened and could not keep the panic from her voice. His father stood motionless with his hands folded and crossed on his chest.
The doctor took off his spectacles, folded them and put them in his left pocket. He looked up at Karim, then looked at his horrified mother, then back at Karim.
“When we took an X-Ray for your head to see if you had any concussions, we found none. But instead we found a blurry spot in your brain. So we ran a CT scan to determine the nature of this spot, and we were able to identify the tumor.” Karim’s heart beats raced. And he noticed the squint in the doctor’s eyes. His mother’s eyes were widened and her hand covered her mouth open with horror. The room was suddenly desolate of sounds, and the world stopped for seconds that seemed like hours. The doctor shifted uncomfortably as his words resonated in the hospital room.
“The tests showed that the tumor is cancer, Karim. I am so sorry.”
[…to be continued]