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I’ve come out for a whiff of fresh air, after months. The hospital has been my home for nearly a year now. The freshly mowed grass seems so inviting.
“I could possibly walk on the grass, couldn’t I?” —I ask Safia.
“Oh no! You mustn’t,” —I am warned. I reach for the wooden bench and lower my frail body into a sitting position.
“I cannot see any hope that I will go home anytime soon.” Could I? Please, Safia?
“I’d rather you didn’t.”
Not one to defy, I quietly obey. Safia is less of a sister and more of a mom to me. She’s been the one taking care of me with a tenacity that I once had, but now lack. I look up to her, for everything. She is my everything, now.
Mark used to come to see me every Saturday, after work. There wasn’t much to talk about, but we both would keep the conversation going. I could see how he’d try to avoid the awkwardness that came with the silence. Or perhaps, because he knew as much as I did, that I wouldn’t make it, after all.
It was tough to get over the breakup, but more than that, it was the pity in his eyes that I couldn’t take anymore. I saw it drain the last ray of hope within me. Love was gone. And I could feel it every time he came to see me. And then, last week, I gathered all the courage and asked him to leave. He didn’t object. Looking back, I now think, I did the right thing.
Safia sits next to me in the garden, holding my hand. She smiles as if to say that she can read my mind. Resting my head on her shoulders, I mutter—
“Safia, I don’t want to go so soon. I want to see your little girls grow up. And I want to travel the world.”
She turns to hug me tight. We hold each other and cry. Nothing holds us back. We stopped having arguments as we used to, earlier. Now, all we do is make up for the little time we have left. Time stands still between us.
After a while, Safia gently draws me towards the lawns and points towards the grassy patch. With her help, I manage to settle myself on the ground, before I finally lie down and rest my head on her lap.
In what feels like the bravest thing I’ve done in months, I’ve managed to lift my strained eyes, towards the sky—the beautiful blue sky —a sight that I’ve only been imagining for months, lying on my hospital bed.
Somewhere beyond those thundering, tall towers of the hospital, and even further up, beyond the clouds, must be the place where I’m headed for. Flying right above us, I spot an aeroplane, flying off to a distant land. A flight in transit. Destination known. Life in transit. Destination unknown.
I shut my tired eyes and think of all those beautiful places that I’ll only ever see in my dreams.