Artwork by Farah Nada
By Hussam Badi
“There you go Abu. That was the last bag. Take care of yourself and stay strong, it will all be alright.” I slowly stepped away from the car and raised my hand waving goodbye, mumbling I love you.
A week later, Ami’s cell phone rang. It was Abu calling, Ami left the rice boiling, grabbing a handkerchief and rushing towards the sound of her cell phone hastily. “Hello!” she said promptly, “Hello Naima. How are you doing?” replied Abu calmly. Ami’s face relaxed as the lines on her forehead disappeared and she took a seat.
After what felt like about two hours, Ami gave me the phone, more like pushed it in to my hands. I spoke to Abu for a few minutes, his voice regained strength with every passing minute. I seemed to have unconsciously said the right things, or maybe my intentions simply were straight forward. I wished him well and dropped the call, standing stationary on the balcony, staring out into the horizon. I felt my face transition into an imperceptible smile as I thought of Abu, mumbling I love you.
Later that night, I was chatting online with my best friend. We’d had a habit for staying up late during the summer vacations. I was always the only one awake in the late hours of the night at home, especially when Abu wasn’t around. In a small house, where Ami and Abu’s room was right opposite of mine, I felt like a guardian in Abu’s absence. “Brb Wajiha, I gtg drink water and freshen up!” I typed, as I got off my chair, stretching my back as if a cat bending its back while yawning. I lazily walked in circles a few times, feeling the blood rush down my legs and approached the door cautiously, wary of not making any noise. As I opened the door and walked past my parent’s room, I saw a flash of a little square light in the dark room, ascending to a height and remaining there, partially covered. I stopped dead in my tracks, and for an unexplainably odd reason I felt my feet and toes go cold. My heart sank deep, feeling pushed against whatever trapped it. My face lost track of expressions and my eyes blurred everything but that distorted square light. I walked into Ami’s room and I heard a sob. I rubbed my eyes and squinted, impatiently waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark. “Ami…” I said, my voice almost mute to myself. I kept moving forward, towards her side of the bed, losing my breath with every step and feeling an increasingly concentrated sting where I felt my heart sink. I sat next to her, voice trembling I asked,”Ami…what happened?” All she said was, “This can’t be, it shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have happened…this can’t be.” I gathered my strength and asked firmly this time but cautiously, “Ami, what happened?!” “It was your dad –“, she sobbed, “Your uncle, he passed away…” I felt relief wash over me at first, for it wasn’t my dad, followed by a thumping weight of agony, of grief. I felt my eyes go warm, and my sight blurred. I extended my arms and embraced Ami, feeling tears cold on my cheeks only moments later.
A day later, I sat in the very bed where my uncle had passed away the previous night. I had travelled across borders to Pakistan only to have missed his funeral. I sat there, thinking only about one thing. What if it was Abu and not uncle? In that moment, I did not dread death, rather the distorted square light, and the ringing cell phone I did not want to receive.
At the age of 20, Hussam wants to contribute to the community he's within and hopes to create ripples throughout the society when it comes to learning. As a sophomore majoring in finance, he finds myself a highly vocational individual. He may not go far as an academic; however, he wants to be able to educate his peers about the essence of learning over studying. Aside from work, he loves to play sports, organize events, run, sing and write for leisure. He also enjoys the culinary arts and fancies challenging himself with different activities.