Week after week, Karim was feeling his body go weaker under the influence of chemotherapy. He was losing his appetite and his energy. He felt nauseous almost around the clock, and even though at first he appreciated his friends and parents taking care of him, he soon became weary of it. He felt he was burdening them, as they put their lives on hold, just to be able to make him feel better. The actual sessions were becoming scheduled torture, and a few times he decided he would stop. But his friends and family would always push him into it again. His life was taking a turn, and he felt himself rolling downward with every passing day.
The only thing that kept him going was his daily writing. Where Karen would type relentlessly, giving her opinion every now and then, but always careful not to say too much. Karim knew that she was in love with the story he was writing. She didn’t have to say it but he saw it in the eyes that lit whenever something major happens, and sometimes she would not let him sleep before he finished a certain chapter in her eagerness to find out about what happened next. The more Karim wrote, the more he felt she was drawn into his world of imagination, and into the lives of his characters. She told him she believed the book would turn out brilliant. That she could feel it in her bones. That she had faith. And Karim, more than anything in the world, hated disappointing the people he loved.
Throughout the whole 4 months of chemotherapy, his mother tried reaching out to Karim. Sometimes she would knock gently on his door, then go inside his room pretending to clean up around him. Other times she would make him his favorite dish and force him out of bed into the kitchen. She would start small talk, ask him about how he was feeling, or if he needed anything. And at first Karim would face her with cold answers and empty looks, but as the months dragged on, he felt that shard of ice melting away. For as he was going through the most difficult time of his life, he found his mother sitting right across the kitchen table, looking at him with nothing but love and affection. She was his mother, he began to understand, and she would have never done anything to hurt her son, had there not be some good reason. And as time passed, Karim could feel his relationship with his mother starting to mend.
After chemotherapy was over, Karim could feel his strength returning slowly day by day. His appetite was slowly returning, and he was able to walk down Hamra street without needing the help of friends or anyone by his side. He would smell the air again, and his senses were returning. He could observe the people around him more easily and open his mind to their experiences. And slowly, life was returning to normal, and he was able to delve back into his book in full energy.
It took him a few weeks to go through what he had written already, and edit significantly. And the more he edited, the more turns his book took, until finally the concept of the whole started to change.
Throughout the following months, his relationship with his mother began to grow stronger. What had passed, Karim realized, was nothing but a mistake to which no one was immune. His love for Karen was also growing stronger especially after his parents had given them their blessing. Karim could finally smile with all his heart, and understand what his mother had told him in the hospital the day he chose his talent over his life. That life was his gift. And everyday he would thank whatever God, or angel or energy that had helped through all he has been through, and above all, he would thank for the parents and friends he was blessed to have. Karim had hit rock bottom, and was picked up to his heights back again. He was once again dancing among the stars in his world of imagination. A world where he was completely free to write and be everything he had ever wanted to become. A writer, and nothing else.
Sadly. As Karim’s story reveals that life does not go the way we want it to. I believe it is safe to tell you what has become of Karim, and most importantly, who Karim really is.
Amid the process of writing of his book, and just when Karim believed life is wondrous and that he had many, many years to live and write, a test result came from the hospital. One of the regularities of being a former cancer patient who had gone through chemotherapy. The phone call came on a sunny August day, when Karim and his mother were having their lunch. They were both asked to come down to the hospital, for some irregularity that has been found.
When Karim and his mother arrived, they were told that the cancer was back. And that at that time, it was incurable.
When he received the news he had expected he would feel the walls closing in on him, that the air would feel thick and his hands would be too paralyzed to move. He had expected to feel fear and tears as death crept closer to claim him; nightmares that would haunt him as his life was drawing to its end with every passing hour. But instead, all Karim could feel at that moment, in that hospital, was the beating of his own heart, the crying of his mother and nothing else.
As the days went on, the sadness Karim was feeling began to dissolve. Instead he began to feel gratitude. He was grateful for the time he had been given, the love he had exchanged and the happiness he had felt in the past months where he had finally, more than any living, and healthy human being could have felt in their lifetime. The news of his cancer returning confirmed what every sane man would say: that death is inevitable, and that life is nothing but a tale, a story that is not measured by the number of it pages, but by what these pages contain.
I presume by now that you would want to know who Karim really is. Is he someone I’d known? Someone I’d read about? Well, I believe I owe it to you to tell you the truth. The truth being, that I, the writer of this book, am Karim.
I received the news of my cancer returning a few months back. And at that exact moment, I started working on this story. To tell the world about everything I had gone through, not because I ask for any sort of sympathy, but because more than anything I want everyone to know and understand the nature of my decision of choosing talent over life. I believe each of us has a destiny that must be fulfilled. Had I chosen to go through the operation of removing the tumor once discovered, risking my talent and my writing, I would have succumbed to whatever life has come to offer me. Instead I defied and chose a destiny I had always known I had waiting for me, and I defied everyone who had known me, because deep in my bones, I had known it. I do not expect you to understand even after reading my story, I have been called a fool many a times, a Coward at others and suicidal. But all I am is a man of passion. A passion for my art, and a passion for life, as you might find hard to believe; a life that is never limited to the number of my days, but a life that is beyond.
I have been trying to make my peace with the world around me, and I have been saying my goodbyes and detaching myself from the material world and delve into the world of this story. God knows, I do not claim there has not been fear or cries. But the words I am typing are the only thing maintaining my grip.
And now I am lying in this bed, the cancer has spread over the past few months, and I do not know exactly how much time I still have. I am tired and weary, and I want more than anything I had ever wanted to surrender to sleep. But I know I have one last mile I have to cross. I must finish my story, for the sake of the promise I had made, to deliver every single word. And as you go back to the beginning of this book, you will understand what promise I had made at the time.
And now I have delivered every detail I could remember, the book comes to its end. An end that shall soon be followed by my own. Some of you might still blame me for the choice I had made. But I do not find it in my heart to change the things that have passed. My gift has been my life. And my life my gift as well. And as my story draws to its end, I beg of you dear reader to remember. That from the earliest days of my life, I said would forever chase my destiny. And hopefully, after death takes its toll, that destiny shall be fulfilled. The destiny I had felt with my every bone; that I would live by my art, and die bringing it to the life it deserves. The destiny of being remembered, and the destiny that I always, so long that men can breathe, will remain… forever alive.