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     Volume 8 Issue 82 | August 14, 2009 |

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A February Night to Remember

Nabila Chowdhury

I have always tried escaping that day. I thought I was over it, that I could forget it all, but I can't. It's just been such an important day of my life, with having the most unexpected reasons to remember it. But the fact is, that it has changed my life. Perhaps, today would be different in so many ways, if February 1st hadn't occurred. I wish it never had.

It was a cold morning. Cuddled around with my sister under the blanket, the world felt safe. We were fast asleep, completely unaware of all that was to come ahead. The night before we watched a Shahrukh Khan movie, and laughed with all our hearts, munching on peanuts and crackers. Mom cooked Spanish rice and we had it with fried shrimp. It was good. I guess, the dinner impacted on our long hours of sleeping.

My father was working the night shift. So, our joy was only shared by the three of us. My mother, me and my sister. He was running late that night, and ran as he waved good-bye. That was the last time I saw him running.

It was getting late and our anxiety grew. After having breakfast, and the usual pillow fights, and the silly quarrels over our notebooks and handwriting, my sister and I grew impatient. My father hadn't returned home and was hours late than usual. We didn't know what to do. The loud ringing of the phone, broke through our silence and anxiety. It was from my father's work place. All I remember is that, we got dressed really fast in our coats, put on our boots, and woollen gloves, and headed towards the city, as my uncle drove us.

It was an ordinary morning in the city. Crowds surrounded us, with men, women, children and dogs rushing everywhere. There was a strange kind of fear during the ride, that left us bewildered. Soon enough, when we reached his workplace, his co-worker whispered something to my uncle, and we headed out. I wanted to see my father so badly. I wanted to hug him and know that he was okay. We walked for blocks and reached the emergency room at the hospital. It was the Cabrini Medical Center. I didn't understand. I didn't believe it. As we walked in, we were surrounded by sick people. Their loud breathing bothered me. And then the most unexpected came.

Something I never wished to see. Wrapped around innumerable wires, that went inside his nose, and ears, and mouth and chest, lay my father, unconscious of the world. I couldn't believe my eyes, and for a few seconds, forgot to breathe.

My father had had a stroke and brain haemorrhage that morning. His blood pressure had risen over 200 and that is what caused it. The physician was very kind, and explained how it was a miracle that he was still breathing. My mother, sister and I visited him everyday at the hospital for two months. It was painful leaving him at night. But I still remember that it was one of the happiest and saddest day of my life, when my father came back home. We were overjoyed, thankful but hurting inside. The sight was disturbing as we watched the once upon a time strong, active man, who never felt the need to take a painkiller and never suffered from a night's fever, or cough, or allergy, the same man was now confined to a wheel chair.

Thankfully he hadn't lost his memory, speech or balance. However, his left hand would not function anymore. Often, even now, he gets sad and I often wish if there was anything I could do, to make his left hand work again I would do it. Otherwise, he is doing very well today. He is healthy and sparkling.

We have overcome those dreadful days, and as I sit and write after six years today, we have only grown wiser and stronger. My father doesn't run these days, but when he walks next to me, the world feels safer. I feel protected. I can't imagine walking without him being next to me. He is just that special.

My father is a very kind and simple man. I haven't met another like him. He thinks and speaks in the most simplest way. Through his eyes, the world and its people are just normal without any complications. Almost every other day if my mother gets upset over a tiny quarrel or fight, I remind her how lucky she is to have a companion like him.

These days I couldn't feel happier. I have my whole family. Every night, before I go to sleep, I never forget to thank God for giving back my father on February 1, 2003. It is a miracle I have witnessed.


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