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Nocturnal Journey

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The room of my Mother was full of the brightness of light given by the first rays of the Sun that was rising from its sleep behind the horizon of the Holy City, Jerusalem.

She, in her bed, was still fast asleep. It was not the time for her to be awake. Within a short time from my arrival a nurse made her entry. She had many things to do as a preparation for the operation that would take place in the morning of the next day.

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Obviously, my Mother woke up. She has forgotten the presence of the nurse and occupied herself in looking at me as if she saw me for the first time when I was just newly born.

A full communication took place between her and me, her son; a dialogue, in which she posed me several questions especially concerning my absence last night. Without saying a single word she understood perfectly well that I have spent a night in the Zaouia in the old City of the Sanctity, the Holy City of Jerusalem.

At the same time, the nurse finished her duties, and I thought that she filled a number of test-tubes and test-glasses from the blood of my Mother. She carried in her right hand a tray full of samples of the blood of the patient who has just kept silent. She did not show any sign of her wish to address to me some words.

My Mother, from time to time, has closed her eyes as an indication from her part that she understood everything. Then all at once she resumed her peaceful and tranquil sleep. In the presence of her son, she felt completely in security and in peace.

The day of the operation was to be, to both of us, a decisive and an important day in the life of both of us. During all the day, the surgeon, accompanied by several nurses as well as the anaesthesiologist, visited my Mother several times and stayed in the room for various durations of time.

During all of this time I was in the room with my Mother who addressed to me, from time to time, some words that did not give me any meaning or specific significance. She was fully aware of the fact that she had a "rendezvous" with destiny. It seemed to me that she accepted what was written for her in the Book of Life and Death, the Book of Destiny. She did not show any sign of complaint, discontent or dissatisfaction.

This important day in my life passed in tranquillity and peace. The evening has arrived and the darkness, the obscurity, was dominating outside. I decided to withdraw to my room for preparing myself also to face and confront tomorrow, the decisive day in the life of the family.

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Room on Roof
Above artwork is by the author's son Nawaf Al-Bukhari... See more!
© 1980-2017 by Nawaf Al Bukhari, Amman-JORDAN and Dubai-UAE

Little by little all trace of the brightness of the light of the day has actually disappeared. Outside, in the exterior, Jerusalem has been plunging finally in the obscurity of the night.

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In spite of the fact that the season was that of spring, and consequently the sky was clear without any visible cloud, the stars, which normally twinkle brightly in the sky at this time like beautiful and smiling eyes, have totally disappeared. The world of the exterior world was completely dominated by a frightful and a heavy silence.

Jerusalem, The Holy City, has been plunging in a deep sleep, and naturally she had at that time her dreams and perhaps her nightmares. Frequently, the howling and the roaring of the spring wind could be heard very easily by anybody in the hospital. Otherwise, the silence was the dominating real king.

It was not yet midnight and we should wait for four or five more hours to witness the birth of the golden dawn of the next day.

The birds at that particular time have been perching in their small nests and on the branches of the olive-trees. These birds had also their own dreams and their own nightmares.

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All at once, the silence that was dominating everywhere in the Sanctity was disturbed, perturbed in a bizarre and unexpected way. That was not a specific noise or a familiar uproar but a kind, a sort of a buzzing and a humming that was produced everywhere, outside and inside my room in the third floor of the main building of the hospital.

At that particular time, and more specifically at midnight, I was asleep in my bed, without having any dream. All at once, my eyes were wide opened and I could not see around me except of the darkness of the night.

As a first reaction on my part I raised my right hand in the emptiness of the space, and more precisely around my ears. I thought that a mosquito or more, were flying in the room and were about to attack me, to suck my blood. Nevertheless, and after some time, I realized that the source of the feeble but troubling noise was not the little insect, the mosquito, but a source that was far beyond this world of insects.

For a while I lent my ears with much attention to be able to hear the troubling noise that was produced by a certain source in the environment that was surrounding me and which I could not recognize yet.

My efforts, as I guessed them to be, were not enough for finding a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon which I had to face at that time. When I was completely awake I had the feeling that something of a very strange and unexplainable nature has taken place around me inside the room or in the Holy City.

For a short time I felt that I almost lost my capacity of reasoning, because in reality I was invaded and overwhelmed by an unsupportable and a mysterious sensation of fear and apprehension. I thought that I was in some kind of mental confusion.

The feeble, low noise has slowly intensified and become higher and more terrifying. With the passing of time, I thought that a grave and a serious event has taken place in the Sanctity and that the noise was not but the re-echoing of cries, of agony coming from human beings who were living in Jerusalem, the Holy City.

The more I lent my ears to understand better the noise the more I was inclined to tell myself that it was the voice of women accompanied, from time to time, by the voice almost strangled of the suffering of children. Anyhow, I was not sure at all of my first reaction to this incomprehensible event which was taking place in Jerusalem.

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I left my bed, and started making few steps toward the window of the room which has been left open. With some hesitation, I had the courage, to put my head a little bit outside the open window.

I wished I could make some exploration of the environment and the lieu which was surrounding the hospital. Strangely enough, the moment I began to examine the dark and sombre space that extended in front of me I felt that a strong and invisible hand has tried to strangle me with determination. For me, this was really a bizarre and an unexpected surprise.

Without any reticence I withdrew myself from the window and I tried to close it. But, unfortunately, and to my astonishment, it could not be closed. The window refused to be closed and remained open. The high and the re-echoing cries of women and children did not stop to come to me while I was inside the room terrified and frightened.

From time to time, I was under the impression that the frightful cries came actually from the hospital itself. It was probable that patients who have been struck by Cancer, like my Mother, were suffering enormously and therefore they were giving these cries of agony and torment.

Nevertheless, this sentiment could not explain the real nature of this noise which frequently was stunning and deafening and was coming to me from everywhere.

This phenomenon of the cries of women and children, who were agonized all through the night, was it a preliminary introduction for the catastrophic events that have struck the Sanctity during the years to come, those of the nineteen sixties? At that period of the eternal life of the Sanctity, the Holy City of Jerusalem was suffering, as it has been suffering, throughout all its long history, of the cruelty of man, his ambitions and his atrocities. For how many times has it witnessed throughout its long history acts of violence and brutality?

For how many times has the Holy City often observed and remarked disasters and catastrophes which have taken place in and around its Holy Sanctuary? How many times has it seen usurpers and invaders who were using the sword, the glaive, and sometimes the pettiness, so as to possess and even to violate and to profane the Holy Land and the Holy City?

However, the cries continued to come in a re-echoing manner. It seemed to me that there would not be an end for this manifestation of distress and suffering. I thought that the noise would continue coming for the whole night.

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The time passed by slowly, sluggishly, lazily. Starting from midnight till the first moments preceding to the birth of the dawn, the daybreak, I was all through awake. And with the slow, reticent and shy appearance of light and brightness, the Sanctity, as a lovely and a bewitching young girl, has already awakened with some signs of the sadness that were manifested on her face.

Without any doubt, the Sanctity has had during the preceding night some nightmares. As for me, I had to prepare myself for the events of the day of which the most important was the operation of my Mother and what would follow the operation.

At ten o’clock in the morning a group of nurses have come to the room of my Mother. They were accompanied by two male nurses who were pushing in front of them a chariot, a cart or a stretcher. Starting from their entry into the room I kept myself far from the bed of my Mother, with hesitation. She, at that instant, was quite awake and she knew perfectly well that she would be taken to the ground floor in the operation hall.

Before her going out of the room she looked at me and gave me a simple smile. Involuntarily, and before the group of nurses have crossed the door-step of the room, I have rushed in an unbelievable speed to the stretcher and I touched by my right hand the front of my Mother. She, in a very weak and strangled voice, which was hardly audible, told me "God bless you my Son." In few instants, my Mother has disappeared in the far end of the corridor where there was a lift of an old type and one or two men nurses.

Naturally, I went to my room and there I chose to stay waiting the return of my Mother from the operation hall and I sat all at once in a chair nearby the window and I started from there looking at Jerusalem.

In fact, I was looking at the Holy City with absolute humbleness, soliciting her for compassion and the clemency for my Mother. Miraculously, I was astonished to see in front of me in the clear and blue sky several angels with illuminating and dazzling light which were flying all around the hospital.

In seeing in a categorical and clear manner those heavenly creatures I have become a little bit optimistic. I hoped that my Mother would come out of the ground floor hall of operation of the hospital safe and sound.

I did not know what to do till the time of the end of the operation. The only solution available for me was to try to forget all what has passed recently. In other words, I was about to live in the void and the emptiness.

Nevertheless, this way of behaviour was not at all possible. The disease of my Mother has been always pursuing me and as a result of that I recalled that she was at that particular moment in the operation hall.

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By chance, I directed my eyes to the interior and I saw and in a mysterious way the cursed couple, my wicked relative and the witch of the quarter. Was it possible that the two were actually still in the Sanctity and that these two devils were pursuing, or more precisely, hunting my helpless sick Mother everywhere?

I saw them, the two devils, raising their heads and artfully staring at me with sarcasm and hatred. This spectacle continued for few instants. After that, the two devils have disappeared I did not know exactly where. Was this mysterious spectacle the creation of my own imagination, or could it have represented the reality?

Already, almost two hours have passed since the time in which the nurses have taken my Mother to the operation hall. It was not possible at all that the operation would come to its end. It was necessary to wait for more time. I was sure of that the operation needed more time than two hours.

Everywhere I had the feeling that everything was going on all right with my Mother and that after the operation she would become in a good state of health, better than before. But the waiting was difficult, unbearable and intolerable.

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Consequently, I considered the possibility of doing something for knowing the reality regarding the healing and the recovery of my Mother.

Another hour has passed in an extremely slow manner and nothing has taken place concerning the progress of the operation. Obviously my worries and my anxiety have been increasing and intensifying with the passing of time.

I was all alone in my room. Nobody was there in the room to talk to. As a general rule I used to carry with me everywhere a small book to read if there was nothing else to occupy myself with. At this time, I did not have a small book to read and I had with me only the memory for filling in the time of waiting.

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My intense tension has been accelerating and I have become in a lamentable state and in a deplorable condition. At the end of the third hour of the operation and in an unexpected way somebody knocked on the door and then somebody entered. That was a charming nurse of some advanced age who smiled to me in an appeasing way.

"Good morning Sir. You are the son of the patient, isn’t it so?" The nurse addressed to me these words.

"Yes, yes, I am the son. Is there any news about my Mother?" I asked with anxiety and some nervousness.

"I am here only to convey to you a message from the surgeon." answered the nurse.

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"Please tell me what I should do. Tell me". I demanded.

"Nothing Sir; you should follow me and just now".

"Is there bad news or what?" I asked.

"Do not be worried. The doctor would like to speak to you. That is all. If you please follow me." asked the nurse.

I did not have any choice. Because, without any hesitation, I left my room and we have gone towards the lift. In a very short time, there I was facing a closed door. On a plate put on the right side of the entrance, the name of the surgeon could be seen inscribed. At that instant, I felt myself to be excited and about to see a person, an angel, whose shining face has been chasing me everywhere I travelled on this small globe of ours.

"He is waiting for you." The nurse told me, while she was opening the door.

Inside of the office I found in front of me the surgeon totally dressed in his professional white medical uniform.

"I have only a very short time to speak to you about the actual situation of your Mother. It is not customary at all with the surgeon to leave the operation hall, even for a short time. Nevertheless, I have the sentiment that I was a little bit fatigued and that I was in need of some rest, some break. There in the operation hall and with your Mother are found my assistants and another surgeon. I told myself that I should utilize this time of rest to speak to you." The surgeon told me.

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"Doctor, please, I am ready to listen to all what you are going to say. Please tell me something about the disease of my Mother". I demanded.

"We are going to finish the operation in an hour’s time. Unfortunately, we have found the Cancer that has already spread almost all over the interior of the body of your Mother. It is not only the uterus but also a great part of the intestines which are already struck by the Cancer. Be sure that we are going to extirpate, to uproot out all the parts of the organs that have been struck by the Cancer. Your Mother would be in a good condition for a period of some days, some weeks, few months and not more. But finally and maybe in the near future your mother would lose the battle." declared the Surgeon.

"Doctor, can I do anything for her. I mean to save her". I asked in a voice that was more or less trembling and almost suppressed.

"You can do nothing except to pray in hoping that a miracle would take place to save her." answered the Surgeon in a categorical manner.

"Doctor… and the Sanctity, I mean the Holy City, Jerusalem. I am sure that it could save my Mother. A miracle is possible in the Holy place, in the Sanctity". I requested while a drop of tears has come down in spite of me on my emaciated face.

The surgeon was trying to understand what I have just said. He wished to say something. But all at once he went out of his office, leaving me all alone and in a total confusion. Nobody came to tell me what I should do next.

Finally, and after few moments, I hurried up to go out of the doctor’s office and I directed myself to my room in the third floor at the end of the corridor.

Once more I imagined that the diabolical couple, my wicked relative and the neighbour, the witch of the quarter, were there at the end of the corridor. Both of them were busy talking and discussing something. I stopped to be in a better position to watch the two devils.

From a far distance I heard their frequent laughs and their voice, but I was not able to understand clearly what has been going on of a dialogue between the two. I thought that the two devils were waiting the stretcher of my Mother. Later on, I realized that there at that place was the section of the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. My Mother, instead of being brought to her room she was taken to a room in this section of intensive care.

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Nocturnal Journey

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© 1980-2017 by Najati Al Bukhari, Mont de Marsan, France

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