Saturday, 30 November 2013

Chapter 6 - That Little Detail We Take For Granted

The warm light of the sun began to slowly caress my right hand and worked it's way around my body as if someone was gently laying a duvet on me. With the warmth of the sunrise greeting me with it's new beginning, my eyes slowly opened, allowing me to see my surroundings. Slightly squinting, I could see I was still in the hospital lying at the area designated to me. Elena was right beside me sleeping in, what seemed to be, a very uncomfortable position. Crap, if Elena spent all night taking care of me then that would mean I would have a pretty pissed off nurse waiting for me to wake up. Her caring and kind nature irritated my pride, I did not need her to take care of me yet I could not get myself to dislike her. I just wished she took care of herself as much as she took care of me. Elena wasn't always so caring to others, she still isn't but over the years I became the exception. Over the years the feeling became mutual, to me she was a person I could count on and I felt I had a responsibility to protect her. The irony in that is that the role always seemed to be reversed. 

Right next to Elena was another chair with my clothes neatly folded, knowing her she must have made everyone's life hell to get my clothes dry cleaned before I wake up. Her insanely dominating nature always brought a smile to my face. The comforting thing about Elena is that, since childhood, she was the only person who had never changed in the way she is. Knowing one part of your life that has not changed and brings reassurance that it will not change in the future can only make you cling onto it forever. She's that one part of my life and hopefully will always be. On my bedside table was a clock displaying the time and day. It was 7 in the morning on the 2nd of July, I still know this because in exactly four hours I would be reminded by a certain someone of it being 11 am and that I should be 'A little more considerate for my neighbours.' We'll get to that part in a few more chapters. It had only been 7 hours since I left my home and a mother that most probably had not gone to sleep yet from the stress and pain I gave her. No, I cannot think about that right now. 

I carefully sneaked out with my clothes and got changed, on my way back I asked the nurse whether it's okay if I could get discharged and she accepted my request after suggesting that Elena could do with some anger management sessions. After some paper work I ran into two local officers who needed to ask me about the assault from the taxi driver. It was then when I remembered why I was at the hospital in the first place. They told me that the taxi driver was heavily wounded but the witness that saved my life had testified to my innocence. By that statement I vaguely remembered my dream and the glimpse I had of Harut in the hospital. Also, it was at that moment I was told the driver's true identity as an ex-officer and his past... his family. They told me that he would be sentenced and that I needed to give a statement of what really happened but in my heart I felt conflicted. I should be happy that he would be behind bars but then again, would I have done the same thing if I was in his position? 

I made my way back to Elena, 'Hey Elena, wake up.' I gently nudged her awake and then became victim to a massacre of hugs and kisses, it was then I realized when I was closest to death. Not when I was about to get shot but it was truly when Elena hugged me so tightly that all the air escaped my lungs and I felt as if I was about to pass out again. 'RAHAL! You're awake, oh my God I was so worried!' She carried on testing the limits of how long I can stay conscience without oxygen while screaming with excitement. 'Ellie... I'm dying... what the hell.. how are you so damn..STRONG!' I gasped for breath as she let go of me. 'Oh wait, I took all your personal stuff and hid them in the bag, I so do not trust those nurses. One of them had the audacity to give me a pamphlet for anger management classes! Can you believe that! Me? Anger management issues?! So I said maybe she should just stuff this in her..'

After the nurse had shushed us and asked us to leave... immediately, we grabbed all our things and headed towards the nearest cafe'. We found a Starbucks nearby and crashed there for breakfast. 'Hey Rahal, how're you feeling now?' We were sitting on the high chairs looking through the big glass watching cars drive by. Slowly but surely the number of cars driving past would increase with the number of customers picking up their daily coffee and heading for their jobs. The next day would be the same and then the next and so on. Every individual stuck in their constant never ending cycle of the next day being the same as today. I already knew, that was the life I did not want.

'For the hundredth time, I'm fine I promise.' There was a short moment of silence while we thought about other conversations we could begin. I then heard the Starbucks' employee shout out the weirdest phrase possible, 'Kutta? Kutta?!' The word 'Kutta' in the language I spoke (Urdu) meant 'Dog'. 'Oh, Rahal that's you! I'll go get it.' Elena grinned at me trying to hold back her laughter on what she thought was absolutely hilarious. I began to laugh at the way the employee pronounced those words and then slowly tried to get out of my seat as I still felt drained. 'No wait, let me go get it. You still look a bit shaken from last night.' Elena hurriedly swung off her chair to get our blueberry muffins and the two cups of tea. During that time I continued to glare at the street. I saw a telephone booth and felt my pockets to see if I had any extra change. 'I'm back! Listen, you didn't really explain a lot over the phone the other night. Where're you gonna stay and what're you gonna do now?' She observed my thoughts were elsewhere. 'You zoning out again?!'

'No no I'm listening. Wait, before I tell you what I'm going to do, you have to tell me why it's okay for you to be with me for so long! Aren't your parents freaking out right now?' I asked.

'Freaking out? Oh, I just told mum and dad I needed to stay over at Stacey's. Dad did ask why but I just said oh my god dad its totally a girl's thing and you're asking me?!' She narrated while giggling over her story.

'Wait, Stacey Van?! The really hot chick that got pregnant with some footballer and then gave an abortion?' I asked.

'Yeah! Oh and the footballer dumped her. I feel so sorry for her, poor Stacey. Oh my God, remember the time when you asked her out! She slapped your face so hard. I think that was the time I truly felt sorry for you.'

'Out of all the memories, why do you still remember that one! Not like you had it easy. Do you want me to remind you about your little crush on Hamza Naqi?'

'Don't you dare! I will kill you before you even begin.' With dark circles forming under her eyes and her murderous tone, I moved away from the topic immediately. One person I did not want to get on the bad side of was her. I glanced at the telephone booth once more wondering about a thought I promised I would not linger on to ever again since my journey began, yet I wondered and lingered.

'Listen Rahal, I really got scared back there at the hospital.' She held my hand, not just to comfort me but to slowly drift my attention away from what was really bothering me. 'Especially when you fell unconscious again while that person who saved you was coming in. I just hope you're feeling better okay? Elena's gaze fell for a second and then confessed, 'I don't know what I'd do without my best friend around.' She gave a smile that defined her personality.

With those words being said, her presence wrapped itself around my thoughts, with a warm embrace, she shielded me from everything and anything that made me question myself. Her innocence hand to hand with her friendship made me realize I really wasn't alone on all this. I had planned out exactly what I'd do after running away and how I would want to achieve it yet the one fear I could not find a solution for was of being alone and vulnerable to the big world I did not yet know. What I did not take into account was the one thing that would make it easier for me to achieve what I wanted to achieve. She was that little detail we take for granted. That one thing I knew I had to cherish. The one thing that was staring at me sincerely with honest love. No strings attached.

'Hey Elena... thank you. You've always been there for me and you still are. Seriously, don't ever change okay.' With that being said, a huge smile ran across her face. A smile I knew way too well, it meant that the torture of her suffocating hugs was about to come and before it did I quickly added, 'Listen, I really need to do something and head to that apartment I've rented out.' Her smile faded away as quickly as it had come. 'Don't worry, I promise I'll call as soon as I've settled and unpacked my things. Hey, you can help with the decorating.' I gave a hopeful smile to replace the one she had lost. We finished our tea and parted our ways, a few steps along and I heard Elena shout out, 'OYE, don't take the taxi k! God knows what else could happen to you!'

I walked slowly waiting for her to disappear out of sight. With resolutions made I walked towards that telephone booth. I carefully counted the change and then counted it again, it maybe the last time for a long time I would for this intent. I dialled the number hoping I could erase it from my mind once it was all over and listened while the line would be connected.  Before I even began to think about what I would say, I was already holding my tears back. For this conversation, emotions had no place. For this person, the word emotion had no definition.


I panicked but just for a few seconds and then replied,

'Dad, it's me...Rahal.'

Written By,

Jawaad Saleem