Sabrina F Ahmad
everyone, into the car!" my father announced. I slung my backpack
over my shoulder, picked up a light carton and headed towards the
door. My footsteps rang out on the cold stone floor and the sound
echoed throughout the large empty room. The room that had, only a
week before, been a cozily furnished drawing room.
When my parents announced we’d be shifting to a flat,
I accepted the news with resignation, knowing it was inevitable. To
stave off any feelings of nostalgia or emotional inertia over leaving
the house that had been home for a decade, I threw myself into the
mindless motions of packing. There was always work to be done: inventories
had to be made, breakables had to be wrapped in paper, and tape had
to be bought, especially the last. We were constantly running out
The work kept me occupied for most of the time, but
there were some emotional moments. Like when I had to clear out my
desk and pack its contents. All my books, my writings, my photo albums
went into these large cartons, and as I dusted the empty drawers clean,
I remember the many memories associated with the desk. The report
cards I used to hide under my textbooks. The reams of homework that
were completed here. How I sweated over them, and how simple they
seem now! The stories and poems I composed, sitting at that very desk,
before I was finally given a computer of my own.
Gradually, the rooms began to empty out before our
eyes. I’d come back from work to find yet another piece of furniture
missing. It was very disorienting. The biggest blow came when the
huge jackfruit tree in our front yard was chopped down. With its massive
trunk and enormous branches, it took the loggers seven whole days
to do the job. Then one day, I arrive home to find the whole thing
gone. With the shade of its green branches gone, the waning daylight
illuminated a great big hole in the ground, not unlike a gap from
which a tooth has been pulled out. Disturbed, I walked slowly into
the house, and found my mother in a wistful mood. "What’ll happen
to the birds that nested here?" she asked woefully. I didn’t
know how to answer her. A worse fate was still awaiting them.
It was probably worse for my sister, who had been
preparing for GCE exams; the din and bustle certainly didn’t allow
for peaceful studying! The most trying experience for her, though,
was not being shifted from room to room and having to study over the
din of the electricians who were always un-installing something that
needed to be carted to the new place. It was having to part with our
dog, Clyde, who, like his namesake, was a real thug. Choking back
tears, and telling herself it was for his own good, she watched as
my father wrestled the huge animal into the car of her friend who
had agreed to take him.
Then came our final night at the old place. Stripped
bare of its furnishings, it looked alien to me, and yet, strangely
I walked from room to room, bidding a quiet goodbye
to each. There were so many memories associated with each of them.
At night, I lay on a mattress on the floor, my bed having been installed
in the new flat already. The ground seemed to pull me down to the
floor, and I remembered that the new apartment would be located up
on the third story. No more walks in my own garden. No more smelling
the fragrance of the wet soil in monsoon. No more waking up to birdsong.
It was all ending tomorrow.
The door slammed shut, and the car pulled out of the
driveway for the last time. No Clyde was there to bark at us, to call
us back. The great black gate swung open, and shut behind us. Without
the covering of the old jackfruit tree, the old house seemed to cringe
under the sun, like an old man, its walls clearly begging for a paint
job, the mesh screens in the verandahs showing signs of wear and tear.
Despite its shabby appearance, it still looked like home. And we were
There was no time for tears when we arrived at the
flat. There were boxes that needed to be unpacked, furniture that
needed to be moved around, and there was plenty of scrubbing and cleaning
to be done. I pushed, and heaved, and strained and carried, and dusted
and scrubbed till my muscles screamed.
Finally, towards sunset, I stood near the window of
my room, supervising as someone put up a pair of curtains. The mellifluous
notes of the azaan came wafting in, loud and clear. I looked out,
and saw the graceful minaret of the nearby mosque, rising above the
rooftops, a tiny light at its peak twinkling like a star. I was home.
Everybody, at one time or another, has cryptically
said, "Everything is not what it seems." Today, it is my
turn. When taking a decision, some play mind chess and deploy the
gambit. Some others listen to their inner self, the emotional being,
or putting it simply- the heart. However, at times, we all face a
situation when we are in ambivalence over to whom to take note of
the head or the heart.
The other day, a friend of mine was narrating a film
that she saw recently. A woman, who is an alcoholic and has a series
of boyfriends, is constantly in and out of jail. She is a mother of
six illegitimate children. The kids live with their maternal grand
mother, and Gracie, the oldest, takes care of the younger ones. Not
only does she have to keep her own grades up, she has to make sure
the little ones are doing well, to keep the Social Services from taking
them and placing them in foster homes. On top of that, she has to
work to help pay the bills, because her grandmother has to keep paying
the mother a good portion of the pension money to keep her out of
trouble. When Gracie turns eighteen, she applies for adoption of her
siblings because their grandma has passed away. Her mother, fresh
out of jail, hungry for welfare money, contests the case. Now, without
spoiling the end of the movie for you, whom do you think the judge
should give the custody to? The mother who is an alcoholic, unsuitable
caretaker or the young girl who has her own life ahead of her, her
own career to follow?
Many people around us face another common, yet intricate
situation. Here is one such case. A man is in intense pain. He is
suffering every minute. His disease, for the time being, is incurable.
The doctors have lost hope. They are not willing to go on with the
treatment. They are suggesting euthanasia in order to clear the bed.
His wife wants her husband to live. She expects, in the near future,
there will be a discovery of the medication that will cure him, or
some miracle will happen. However, there is no certainty. What should
she do? Give in under the pressure of the doctors or keep her hope…and
her husband alive?
This one is the unbelievable story of a doctor who
listened to her heart. In a crowded hospital, a woman was lying on
the stretcher and was about to be taken to the OT for a gynecological
surgery. A doctor, Rebecca Bingham was walking by. Although she knew
nothing of her medical history, she had a sense of alarm that she
should check her heart. She put her stethoscope and heard abnormal
blood flow, a sign of mitral stenosia, a heart condition that can
cause serious complication if the patient is anaesthetized. She alerted
the surgeons. Operation was cancelled for further diagnosis. Test
confirmed that she had heart complications. When asked as to why she
checked her heart at that instant, her answer was ‘Just a hunch’.
This woman went entirely by her intuition to save a life.
Of course, it is essential to think deeply when putting
forth a step. On the other hand, at times, it is also necessary to
go by what the heart has to say. Your heart might as well lead you
to the right path, and help you take the proper decision.