As a writer I wanted to explore different areas of writing. This is my first fiction piece.
I Discovered A Friend!
Aisha was lying in bed 207 in the main block of Sumathi hospital, used by the less privileged in society. The shoddy furnishings that made up the ward exposed the quality of the Hospital. Dark deep cuts ran across Aisha’s pretty face. Salma and Shrin, about 16 stood at her bedside. Their dressings seemed trendy, in line with the latest in teen magazines. Salma was normally a poised young lady, but she looked somewhat uncomfortable on that particular morning.
Aisha looked at Salma and Shrin and asked them in a weak voice, “Where is Chitti?”
“She is outside,” replied Salma.
“Do you want me to call her?” asked Shrin.
“I want to tell her something” Aisha said in a fragile tone.
“You stay with her Salma I’ll go and get Aunt Jamilah” Shrin instructed as she left the room in search of Aunt Jamilah.
Salma was left alone with Aisha. She went and sat on the chair, which was near the bed. She placed her elbow on the edge of the bed in which Aisha was lying and placed her hand on her cheeks. Few minutes had passed and still Shrin was not back. Salma lowered her left hand looked at her watch without making it obvious that she was bored. This time, when she raised her head and looked at Aisha, she froze, a tinge of concern and shiver ran through her body when she saw at Aisha’s face losing colour.
“Goodness! What’s going to happen!?” she thought to herself.
Salma stood up and stroked Aisha’s head.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be all right,” Salma said and fought with her tears.
Aisha had been in the hospital for the past 3 days after a truck ran down on her. Salma, reluctant at first to pay her sick classmate a visit, agreed to pay a visit to Aisha in the hospital only after Shrin told her that Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him had highly recommended to visit people who are old and sick.
“I’m sorry; because of me everybody’s summer vacation is ruined.” Aisha sounded guilty and sad.
Aisha was always considerate, helpful and concerned about others. Her helpless state caused her more pain than the hurt of her wounds. She always found happiness in helping other. She hated troubling anyone and always preferred to help than being helped. Now being in this plight, she thought she bothered others and this made her feel miserable.
Salma held Aisha’s hand tightly and said “No, not at all. Our dear friend is more important to us than our vacation…”
Aisha’s lips curved lightly into a light smile and said,” Thank you.”
“Salma, can you please open that drawer and take that envelope from there?” Aisha asked
Salma pointing to a table, which was in the corner. The table looked old and crooked with a rusted handle. Salma went to the table that was in the corner, pulled the draw, and took the envelope. It was a white long envelope. Salma was surprised to see that it was addressed to her. She looked at Aisha who nodded,
“That is for you Salma,” Aisha said.
Just then, Shrin entered the room with Jamilah. Jamilah, a woman who seemed to be in her mid forties looked elegant in her black burkha and scarf inspite of her stout stature. Aisha gestured the woman to come and sit next to her.
“Chitti...” she wanted to say something but found it difficult to speak.
“What is it sweetheart?” Jamilah touched Aisha’s cheeks gently.
“Chitthi, they will take me to the operation theatre for my surgery in another one hour….” Aisha paused and then continued. “Before I leave I wanted to tell you something.” She paused again for a minute and then continued, “Since the time I have known you, you have taken care of me like your own daughter. I never saw my parents...” Aisha could not hold back her tears this time. She held Jamilah’s hands and kissed it with her dimmed energy.
“You have been my mother Chitti and you are my mother…only Allah knows whether I will be alive or dead after the surgery,” Aisha told her and fought with her breath.
“Insha’Allah you’ll be fine sweetheart,” told Jamilah holding back her emotions that poured while Aisha spoke.
Jamilah was a strong woman who raised her sister’s daughter after her sister and her brother-in-law died in a car accident. Now, she sees Aisha in the same condition in which her sister and brother-in-law were 14 years back. Though Jamilah had two children of her own, she took care of Aisha who was always obedient and well mannered, like her own daughter. Jamilah was unable to see her beloved niece like this. The doctor had informed them that Aisha would need to undergo a surgery.
“Yes Chitti I do want to live if Allah wills and want to be always helpful to you and everyone,” Aisha said sincerely.
Jamliah hugged her niece, “Insha’Allah you’ll be fine after the surgery…” she kissed her niece’s forehead. Jamilah took her hands away from Aisha.
“No!” Jamilah shrieked.
Aisha was bleeding and she saw blood on her hands and pillow and shuddered. When Shrin saw the blood she almost fainted and Salma froze.
“We need to call the doctor immediately,” Jamilah told Salma. Icy shivers of anxiety ran up Salma’s spine.
“Please call the doctor…” Jamilah cried.
Salma was unable to move and her heart was beating wildly. Shrin dialed the emergency number on the intercom. The doctor arrived with two nurses and checked Aisha’s pulse.
“Hurry we need to rush her to the operating theatre,” the doctor told the nurse.
Before they took Aisha to the operating theatre her pulse stopped and her soul left her body. Jamilah who held back her emotions all this time burst into tears and broke down. Salma remained frozen till she heard Jamilah’s cry. Salma and Shrin tried to help Aunt Jamilah and tried to pacify her…
Salma rang the doorbell. She looked pale and exhausted as though she had not slept for weeks. A tall beautiful and elegant looking woman opened the door.
“As Salaamu Alaikum Salma!” she greeted Salma with a smile.
“Wa Alaikum salaam Amma,” Salma replied in a weary voice.
Anisa, Salma’s mother was in her late thirties. She found the usual warm beautiful smile on her daughter’s face was missing. She looked at Salma worried as Salma went and sat on the cushioned sofa and opened the letter, which Aisha gave her. Anisa saw tears rolling down Salma’s cheeks who was reading the letter,
“I don’t believe this!” Salma cried shaking her head, trying to balance herself physically and emotionally.
“What’s wrong Salma?” Anisa asked her.
“A…A...Ammaa…” Salma could not talk and bursted into tears.
Anisa never saw her daughter crying like this before. She came and sat next to Salma. Salma tucked her head on her mother’s shoulders. Anisa hugged her and patted her back gently.
“Relax sweetie…what happened? I have never seen you crying like this before.” Anisa asked her.
Salma wiped her tears from her cheeks and eyes. Her long beautiful eyelashes were still wet with her tears. Salma gathered her energy to talk to her mother,
“Amma …” She said, “Do you remember Aisha?”
Anisa nodded her head, “Isn’t she the one who always kept calling you up and always invited you to her place.”
“Yes Amma, she is the one,” she said.
“What about her?” Anisa asked.
"She died this morning…” Salma buried her face in her hands and cried.
Anisa immediately said, “To Allah we belong and to Allah we will return.”
And then continued, “What happened …was she unwell?”
Salma said, “She met with an accident. A truck ran down on her and she was admitted in the hospital. The doctor said there was nothing to worry about and we thought she would be fine … she suddenly started bleeding terribly … and she died…I am feeling guilty Amma!”
Anisa hugged her daughter and said, “Sweetie, everybody has an appointed time and it was time for her soul to leave this temporary abode…why do you feel guilty, this is all Allah’s will, nothing can stop anybody’s death.”
“I know Amma …I am guilty because I was a horrible friend!” Salma cried.
Baffled by these words, Anisa looked at Salma. Salma continued with her eyes filled with tears, “Every time she called me, I was annoyed and found her boring. I felt she was unpopular. She did not have the same interest I had…no music, no movies, no fashion…I kept ignoring her and she told me she yearned to have a friend like me and she wanted me to be her friend.”
Anisa was listening to her daughter patiently nodding her head. Salma looked up at her mother and continued confessing her attitude and her behaviour towards her friend when she was alive.
“She was a great friend. She always tried to give me gifts and tried inviting me home so many times. But… I kept ignoring all this and secretly wished she would leave me alone, and spoke ill of her when I was with my other friends. The last time she called me was yesterday and asked me if I could visit her…I became agitated but Shrin insisted that we would go visit her as she is sick.”
“Alhamdulillah, she never knew -- she really thought you were a good friend. At least you gave her that happiness.” Anisa said thoughtfully.
Salma paused and stammered to get the words again to speak, “ W…w…when I… I… I… read the letter she gave me…I feel horrible after reading the words ‘Good friends are precious! Thank you for being my friend’.”
She continued, “The only people around her when she died were me, Shrin and her aunt. She is an orphan so only her aunt was the only relative near her when she died. Her face was so beautiful after her soul left her body.” She raced with her words breathing hard.
She paused and then continued, “Do you know Amma what she wrote in that letter?”
Anisa asked her, “What did she write?” She sounded eager to know the content of the letter thinking that it might be the content which is upsetting her daughter.
Salma said, “The letter said I was her best friend. She was an orphan. She mentioned that she yearned to have a best friend but she never had any, till she met me…” Salma buried her face in her hands and started to cry …
Anisa poured some water into the glass and gave her to drink. After a glass of water she continued,” The truth is, I never treated her like my friend. Friends are supposed to care for each other but I didn’t and instead I spoke ill of her behind her back. I was never proud to have her around me…but to be honest; she was the best friend I have ever had…. She never expected anything from me though she was needy, she was always smiling and helpful and she never hesitated to correct me when I was wrong but I used to hate that and always snubbed her…she always praised me if I did a good job at work.”
“Amma, I have lost a wonderful opportunity of taking her and treating her as my best friend.” Salma said.
“No! Only now you got a friend” Anisa said smiling at her daughter.
“What makes you say that Amma?” Salma asked earnestly.
“Aisha made you realise your faults after her soul left this world. Now every time you do something, you will remember her and her words of advice… won't you?” Anisa asked.
“Well, her words are living in your heart and those words are your friend! Salma…A friend is someone who would make us almost invincible and helps us with his or her counsel when we face a problem.”
Anisa added, “Many people will walk in and out of your life; but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart…Aisha has left footprints in your heart which will never be wiped out!”
Salma nodded “Yes Amma, you are right, I have discovered my true friend!”
Amatullah Abdullah 2005.