The Passing V2

Hello Guys!

Just wanted to share with you guys another short story that I’ve written. It’s the short story that I’ve submitted for the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair & The National Newspaper Short Story contest (Didn’t win but was estatic that my dear friend Shahd won 4th place, you can find her winning story Farewell, My Broken Heart here)

If you guys remember the very first post that was posted on the Untitled Chapters website here, then you’ll realize that this story is quite similiar. It is actually the same story that I posted back then but I thought that since this story would be perfect for the theme that the contest was for which was “Gone” I decided that I was going to re-write it and send it in. So without any futher delay because of my rambling, here is The Passing V2. I hope you enjoy ^^

Disclaimer: This short story is based on pure assumption and has no connection to actual acts during the time and events of this short story. This was written as a form of expression and tribute.

It’s strange how things just … happen; how time just passes you through and changes everything in a blink of an eye, turning your world upside down.

I suppose life is strange like that, where one never appreciates what one has until he realizes how close he is to losing it; even though we are all aware of the circle of life and how eventually … life will catch up to all of us. There was no escaping it.

But then, I personally did not see this day ever coming.

You could be out in the desert having the time of your life, in the presence of your closest friends and be the happiest you can be, while the next day, you can hear news that can threaten to destroy your happiness, your being and your soul.

That was exactly what had happened to me, I had taken the day off and was enjoying a blissful day with my wife and children after being away from them for too long because of work when I received a phone call.

The phone call.

I remembered being hesitant to pick up the phone, knowing that this call was related to work. I looked at my wife and saw exactly what she was feeling at the moment, disappointment yet at the same time, she also showed concern.

She simply gave me a small smile and nodded her head for me to answer the phone, I protested against it but she refused to listen to me.

“I want you to go. I know they won’t call you unless they need you”

I’ve loved her even more than I thought possible at that moment.

The news that came from the other side of the phone made my whole world stop, I couldn’t process what I just heard, to the point where they had to repeat the same statement over and over again. Adrenaline rushed through my body as I rushed to the palace as quickly as I could, and I was immediately escorted into the room was currently in.

And we waited.

The room was quiet, save the sound of the air conditioning and the echoing Recitation of the Quran that filled the room. Yet strangely enough, I vaguely heard either of them; all I heard was the ticking of the clock that hung on one of the walls. I lifted my eyes and watched the dial move, slowly.

Tick … Tock … Tick … Tock

The sound of life itself.

I felt that it was taunting me.

It felt like we’ve been waiting forever.

While in fact, it had only been a couple of hours since I sat there.

My eyes moved from the clock to scan the rest of the people who were present in the room from the corner that I was currently sitting in. Many of them were my life long friends; some were acquaintances while others I had never seen before. No one gave me a second glance though and I did not blame them; every single one of them was lost in his own thoughts and reflections. The air was tense as it dawned to the people in the room what is most likely going to occur anytime within the next few minutes … or perhaps hours; none of us really knew how long this would last.

Quite frankly I doubt any of us really cared. I was willing to swear that every single person in the room was ready to spend days in this room without moving an inch.

I felt my chest tightened as I let out a breath that I did not realize I was holding when my eyes fell on the figure that lay on the bed across the room from me, surrounded by the people who were closest to him. I wanted to be among them more than anything else in the world, but even if I was invited to come and join them, I doubted that my legs could carry me when I attempt to stand.  Despite the distance between us and the people that surrounded him, I could still see him just as clearly as I fixed my eyes on him, my mind trying to process the image in front of me as memories of the strong and prideful man whom I have seen time and time again now reduced in his bed, ill and tired of old age.

I knew that this image would be forever burnt in my memory.

This feeling was so alien to me, and I would assume it was to everyone else in this room. This was not the normal sort of environment that we are so used to when being with each other in this house.

It had always been an honour to be in the presence of the people in the room, there was always a sense of pride and joy whenever I found myself in the same room with the people who are currently around me. Debates, laughter and harmony usually filled the area wherever this particular group of people were present, especially when the man in the bed was among us and I can speak for myself and for everyone when I say that everyone felt joy whenever they were around him.

So now, it almost seemed unreal to me.

My thoughts were broken when I heard his voice echo through the room and I gave my full attention to him; trying my hardest to listen to his now soft voice that cracked with every word he spoke. “Even his voice changed” a thought emerged unconsciously in my mind as I listened.

When I heard the first thing he said, I felt my vision blurred and I had to squeeze my eyes shut to contain the tears that had immediately surfaced, clutching my fists and biting on my lower lip to the point where I knew I left a bruise.

Despite being on his deathbed, the first thing he had asked about was his people.

“It has always been about his people”

His eldest son, who sat on his right, answered him that they are all awaiting his safe return home; which caused the man to shake his head and close his eyes. I did not hear what he said next but I heard his second son say that he should never apologize for anything; not to them or to their people.

“No.. Don’t apologize… Never apologize … you’ve done more than any man could do for this country” I wanted to cry out but held myself back.

A choked sob managed to escape my throat despite my attempts to hold it in; but it was shadowed by the same sounds that came from the men around me.

“A true leader and father until the last minute”

He remained quiet for a few moments before I saw his right hand lift up, his age evident from the wrinkles that have edged on his once firm and strong hand, he placed his hand on his eldest’s shoulder and I saw his fingers weakly grasp his Kandora, knowing that he wished to remain strong and firm while speaking to him, perhaps to emphasise what he wanted to say:

“The people, our people, come before everything else. Don’t ever forget that”

I saw his son nod in answer before his father lowered his hand back to the bed. I felt my breath catch in my throat as my eyes widened at the scene in front of me.

The man lifting his finger and spoke his final words, the Shahada before he closed his eyes, forever.

For the next few seconds, time seemed to stop.

Then emotions flew, like a dam that had exploded.

Tears now ran fell freely from my eyes as they remained fixed on the man on the bed, the muscles in my body tense and yet I felt my shoulders slightly begin to shake, I panted as the wave of emotions rushed through me and echoed throughout the members of the room when we realized what had occurred. Some were struggling to contain their grief while others openly grieved over the loss that they just experienced. I placed my hand against the bridge of my nose for a few minutes as I spoke a few words to Allah, wishing that he would bless the passing man’s soul, praying for the highest reward for the man who has given everything to ensure the best life for his country and his people.

My eyes unconsciously fell on the man’s eldest son.

You can practically see the responsibility that has been placed on his shoulders, just by looking at his expression.

The new president of my country.

Tomorrow the whole countries will grieve his father’s passing.

They will grieve their father’s passing.

Because he was just a father to them as he was for his own children. That’s the kind of man he was.

Today marks the day for the passing of the leader and a father.

A man known, loved and respected by all nations.

The founder of our country.

Our Father.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed it ^^

Fatma

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