I woke up one day and he was gone.
All my work. All the extra time I spent to make up for the lack of a father figure. All those days I went to sleep hungry so he could eat… all for naught. My son was gone without a trace. My throat begins to close, my breathing slows, my mind is in shambles. Just like when his father died.
Where did I go wrong?
Reminiscing about memories with Fahad; I remember some with explicit detail.
Fahad wanted to learn how to bake, so I prepared all the ingredients and materials necessary. When he got back from his fifth-grade class he explained how his school went and his proficiency in mathematics. I told him that we would bake cookies today, and he yelped in excitement. After we finished baking, I put the cookies in the oven and he said, “I did it… I made something”. The pride in his eyes were a sight to see: like gold medals that he earned and was showing off to his parents. Later that night, the cookies were finally done so I stretched out my palm to grab the cookies forgetting to put on gloves. Sssss!
“AHHH!” I shrieked while pulling my hand out instinctively to see a red swollen wound. Fahad burst out of his room and came over and held my arm is his hand and then put it against his face. He quickly called a taxi and brought me to the doctor to make sure it was fine. Now tears began to fall out of my eyes. The doctor prescribed medicated cream, but I already knew I was fine and the tears were tears of joy that he cared.
Another memory that came to me was when we got the flu simultaneously, we both had to lay in bed all day, but someone needed to do the daily chores and make food. Just as I struggled and hobbled my way to the kitchen to make food, Fahad was already there and in his hand were cookies, so he coughed, “This is all I know how to make, I hope it’s good enough”. Right then and there I embraced him forgetting all about how sick I was before or even that I was hungry.
Later that day, I told him to go back to bed and I started to make some soup knowing that it would help him and it was his favorite. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of what had happened that morning when he made cookies so I wouldn’t have to cook something. When he woke up and saw the soup, he just smiled at me and says, “My favorite”. Just those words were enough for me to know how grateful he was and how much love he had.
The last memory I have is the day before he left. We got into an argument about Islam because Fahad no longer found any reason to believe in Islam. Furthermore, he believed that it was his decision because he was now 18 and was considered an adult. He said, “I can do what I want, I don’t need to listen to you”. For the first time in my life, I felt that he was slipping out of my hands, so I had to reprimand him. I raised my hand to give him a tight slap, but I found that arm was being bound by another arm. “Enough, It’s my decision”, Fahad commanded. Me not knowing any better, I said: “ If you don’t follow Islam, you aren’t my son”.
He ruthlessly replied with “Then so be it!” as he stormed out of the room. I just sat there on the ground and started crying. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, so I thought it would be best to leave him for the night and it would all be better in the morning. Come morning, however, he was gone.
As the last memory finished, I just sat there to realize that it had gone from early morning to mid-afternoon. I already missed two eating times, but I wasn’t hungry. As I continue to sit on the ground in Fahad’s room I feel a deep sinking feeling as if I was drowning. I had already gone through it once with his father, but Fahad was the one that helped me get out of the hole. Now I have nobody.
My life is completely ruined and I have no purpose anymore. I continue to wander the house looking for Fahad; no use. Finally, after many hours of crying and even thoughts of death, I pick myself up to begin cleaning the house. Even while cleaning, thoughts about Fahad kept swirling through my mind. By the time I stop to take a break from cleaning, I realize that it’s pitch black outside and that I clearly remember sweeping Fahad’s room. I stopped cleaning the house because it occurred to me that I had remembered cleaning the house multiple times. Without eating, I prepare to go to sleep. Instinctively, I end up checking Fahad’s room like I did every day when he was here. Laying my hands on his bed and made sure to clean up the mess in his room. There was no mess. After I remember that Fahad is gone I get to my room and climb into my bed. I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next day, the hunger became unbearable because I had skipped all of my meals yesterday. I made the usual food that I eat in the morning: eggs. The eggs burned a little, but I wasn’t concerned. I place down two plates – one in front of me and the other one next to me. Fahad and I used to eat like this. At the thought of him leaving, I put the other plate away and tried to eat my food. Slowly taking small nibbles, the food wasn’t getting any smaller. After too long, I quit eating and try to sustain my daily routines. I continue to follow my routine, but I keep doing the things I used to do for Fahad. I can’t control it. Nothing gets done for me because I lose focus and start wandering off into my memories with Fahad. The constant pain that I endure is eating me alive, so thoughts of just ending it quickly come to me. Thinking about death, I realize it may not be so bad compared to my situation now. Coming back to my senses all those thoughts leave my head and again, I try to focus on my work. Remembering that I need to eat I start cooking food. Suddenly, while I’m pouring the sizzling oil I think back about when Fahad baked cookies, which led to me spilling the oil on my hand. Ssssss!
“AHHHH!” I shriek. As the memory plays in my head, I look up to check if Fahad is there. Nobody. Even though he doesn’t show up, she still stays hopeful that he will come back and maybe he didn’t hear her. She continues to scream to indicate that she’s in pain while waiting at the door. Her voice becomes quieter and quieter until she crumbles on the doorstep.
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