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Nocturnal Journey

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

The word "wisdom" re-echoed mysteriously in my depths and carried me back, with my souvenirs, to my misty and hazy past, to the days of my youth, since almost thirty-five years.

Once upon a time, in that far off and remote epoch of my life, and in the City of Brotherly Love, in one of those days of the golden and blooming spring of my country, I found myself all alone nearby my mother who lay solemnly in her metallic and old fashioned bed, Just few moments before she has given her last breath of life, before her death at the age of fifty-seven years.

My mother had been savagely struck, since some years back, unfortunately, I cannot remember exactly when, by the pestilence, the plague, of our time, this fatal disease which takes as a prey the mothers more than the fathers, and the women more than the men. This disease attacks the persons of the feminine sex, gender, in those parts of their body that provide life and nourishment for the procreation and the survival of the humankind.

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This is the disease which attacks its victims blindly, ferociously and recklessly without any warning. It attacks like a monster that chooses its victims by chance, by surprise and without any warning. His attack is ferocious, brutal and savage and usually conducted in a sudden way that does not leave for the stunned innocent victim any opportunity for defending himself or to prepare himself for a long fight.

This war without any kind of a truce between an invincible and an unbeatable monster and the helpless, the defenceless victim, is a war of the unequal. It should be emphasized that up to the present time, all the sciences and the human genius have not been able to do anything against this monster. Man stands helpless and hopeless in front of this merciless and cruel beast.

The helpless and the hopeless victim, who is attacked all of a sudden by the plague, is found all alone facing this monster in the vast and without limits battlefield. The efforts for fighting the fatal and the deadly disease, in spite of their being immense and costly, are not at all, so far, sufficient for defeating the enemy that threatens the life of man of whatever age.

For some years, that looked for me the eternity, I was the only member of the family who kept himself faithfully nearby my Mother, almost for all the time, night and day. All the other members of the family, the sisters, the brothers, the relatives, all were actually in flight, in an escapade that was unavoidable for them. They wanted to escape from the horrible monster, the disease which they thought to be contagious even by the mere presence in the room of the victim of the monster.

My father was the exception. In reality, he was not aware of the fatal nature of the disease that struck my Mother. He was always busy, day and night, with his work and his small tailoring workshop found in one of the main streets of the City of the Brotherly Love, Amman. He devoted all his life for gaining the daily bread of the family.

Everybody, always, kept afar of the dying Mother because of the fear of the merciless attack of the enraged pestilence. Day after day, the members of the family kept, more and more, far from the Mother while in my case I kept myself nearer to her. With the passing of time I felt more and more attached to her. The more and more the others kept far from the suffering Mother and in distress, the more and more I kept myself, and obstinately, very near and close to my sacred nest, my dying Mother.

es/ Baby Plant On Table A
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© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

During these difficult, long and critical years, I have taken my Mother everywhere without any respite or relaxation, and without any tiredness or fatigue. She was more often on my back, always in my eyes, in my heart, when I took her everywhere on Earth as well as in Heavens.

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Once I took my suffering and sick Mother beyond the Dead Sea and the Valley of the Sacred River, to the Sanctity, to Jerusalem, looking for Salvation for her and for myself.

es/ My Baby With Green Eyes
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Almost nine months before her death, I have visited the Sanctity with her and I was earnestly and sincerely looking for salvation for her and for myself. There, in the Sanctity, Jerusalem, I took her to the hospital and to the surgeon, whom I considered like an angel sent by heaven to save my Mother. The doctor realized almost a miracle. She has recovered and regained her good health by the end of our stay there.

At that moment, in the Sanctity, we have thought that a miracle has been realized. My Mother, for seven months after what I considered as a miraculous operation and after our return from the Sanctity, has enjoyed good health. Even during these seven months, her health has given me the impression that she had a better health than she had before her illness since many years.

Unfortunately, one month before her death, she has become very ill and she started to lose weight to the point that nothing remained of her emaciated body, with the exception of the skeleton.

O! The pestilence of our modern times is not yet conquered by Man, by the science and by the modern technology. This plague did not leave of my Mother except a heap, a pile, of bones, the Skeleton, and a body completely emaciated and a tortured and a drowned soul in a sea of tears, her tears and mine.

My Mother, there, sleeping in her bed, was in front of me well covered by the white bed-sheets in a simple bed-room where there was no furniture visible to the eye with the exception of my own armchair of green velour, a low small table and her metallic bed. Her room was of a normal dimension and size. It is a room of six other rooms that composed our house, a type of a small villa which was constructed by my father five years before her death or even less than that.

My Mother and I were all alone in the emptiness of the space and we shared a strange feeling of agony and distress. We had a feeling of a secret torment in her spirit and mine resulting from the realization of the approaching day of separation, I from her. Both of us were aware of the presence of the horrible monster that made us feel his presence in a threatening manner, day and night.

The monster, mischievously, was there and everywhere in the space that was encompassing us in the room and in the outside limitless world. The monster kept himself in a complete and astonishing silence during which he was observing us attentively. He did not stop to stare at us, the son and the Mother, fixedly. My Mother has equally stared at me in trying to understand what was going on at that moment in my soul and in my spirit. A silent, discreet and reserved dialogue has taken place between us, the Two.

At that important and significant moment of my life, there were no witnesses in the bedroom that was illuminated by the rays of the Sun with the exception of the presence of our God, the King of the entire world. He, the Almighty, was watching both of us with compassion and with clemency and He came to the conclusion that his Will would be done.

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I understood in a categorical and an indisputable manner that my Mother was finally sentenced to death. What is the difference between the person who is in prison in the darkness of the cell of his prison and who knows one day the exact date of his death by the rope or by the sword and, on the other hand, the person who is struck by the Pestilence and who understands that he is sentenced to death, but, unfortunately he does not know when his last hour in this mortal life would come.

The first, the former, the criminal, knows perfectly well that he will leave this world at a certain time because of a crime which he has committed. He realizes that he is guilty and that he would die according to the human law as well as according to the laws of heaven. While the latter knows perfectly well that he is innocent. He always poses to himself before his death certain questions concerning the destiny, his Destiny, and why, the hazard and the chance have chosen him to die from among an infinite and an unlimited number of human beings. He asks himself according to which law he would die.

In the middle of these agonizing and distressing mental and moral tortures, we, the Mother and the son, have been communicating amongst ourselves by means of our eyes, my and her eyes. At that moment, we were, both of us, totally drowned in a sea of tears.

I kept myself in a strained and a tense silence, while my mouth remained well closed. My pale and tormented face reflected signs of extreme fatigue and anxiety. I understood that this human being who lay in front of me was nothing but an innocent sentenced to die.

O! I have never imagined that the end, that of my Mother, would take place very soon and within certain moments. I remained seated in the only armchair in the bedroom that was found nearby the only opened window while I was looking constantly at my dying Mother.

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I noticed, with a feeling of horror, how life was escaping from her, slowly and silently, without my being able to do anything, with the exception of looking at her and shedding my warm tears.

My faithful and devoted attachment to her was, with no doubt at all, absolute. Nothing could have kept me away from her. I have plunged myself in the depths of the profundity of her suffering. I have shared with her the agony and the distress, the fear, the apprehension and the sadness and her woes from which she was suffering.

On that day, the last in her life, I had the feeling that I was equally struck, attacked, by the same disease, the same malicious illness that has already attacked her and that I was about to leave this life to another, the immortal, in her company.

All, that is all the members of the family, my own family, during the illness and the suffering of my Mother, have been constantly accustomed to see her dying, withering and fading away, lying to die in her bedroom that was located in the back part of the house.

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In most of the very short visits of the members of my family, they were satisfied only to throw their malicious looks, their wicked glances, on the sick creature through the open door of the bedroom as if they wanted to know when my Mother was to die. I thought that they never thought that she could be saved from her fatal disease.

Never any of them, of these occasional visitors of my family, thought of entering into her bedroom to say some words to her. Obviously, she, from her bed, in such strange situations and odd circumstances, saw the faces of the visitors, of the passes-by, but in most cases she did not say anything. She kept taciturn and silent as usual.

Certainly, my Mother was asking herself all the time why these creatures, her children and her relatives, kept far away from her. Instead of these short visits of the "others", I was seated in my armchair and I looked at those occasional visitors, with contempt, scorn and disdain as if I was telling them that their visits were unwanted, annoying and not desired.

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Day after day and as time passed by slowly and may be cunningly, my Mother, sick and suffering, lost slowly her body and her soul, her freshness and her charm. Day after day, her beautiful face has emaciated and her hands have become full of wrinkles in a perceptible way.

All, the members of my family, kept in a cowardly manner, far away from her. They told themselves that her coming, approaching, death was an inevitable and an unavoidable event. Nevertheless, my sentiment was completely different from that of the "others". I was always asking myself whether she could be miraculously saved.

During these horrible and abominable days, I felt the challenge and the provocation of the monster, the "Hazard", the blind destiny, to man as an individual. The hazard has not left, during the last phase of the illness of my Mother, any possibility for saving a human being sentenced to death.

In such a situation where there was no hope that she could be saved, and in finding myself all alone with her few moments before her death, my Mother imagined that there was a hope, there was a very small and faint light for the defeat of the savage monster that was nibbling and eating her body and soul. At that moment, my Mother believed that there could be a miracle. A miracle might take place and she would be saved.

The absolute and sovereign silence imposed its dominance in the entire atmosphere in the bedroom of my dying Mother. There was nothing at all to be heard. Even her whispering breathing seemed to me to have suddenly stopped.

I looked around me, astonishingly, to examine and observe the actual situation in the bedroom. The entire atmosphere indicated that the beast, the monster, was preparing himself maliciously for the final onslaught and attack on the innocent trembling prey that was found lying and dying in her bed.

It seemed to me that my Mother has become conscious of the fact that the last moment in her life would probably take place very soon, either immediately or in few minutes time, but no more than that, perhaps because of the difficulty that she was experiencing in her breathing, or because of the irregular beating of her fatigued heart, or perhaps, because she has been seeing death and his strange face that was trying to give an enigmatic smile to her from behind the window of the bedroom.

With this state of conscience and awareness of the imminent death and its inevitability, my Mother was all of a sudden under the impression that her eldest son could be the source of a miracle that would save her life. This was the hope of the last moment.

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Probably, a miracle would take place and my Mother would recover from her illness and would be saved from her fatal disease. Perhaps there has been committed a mistake in the procedure as a whole and she was wrongly chosen by the blind destiny to die.

Is there, outside the limits of the law of Destiny, any outlet, an opening, an exit and an opportunity to be saved? Is there a solution, an exception? Would my Mother have wished to say that she was condemned to die outside the scope of the Divine Law?

Perhaps, my Mother has been chosen to die according to the law of the monster in front of whom man becomes helpless and powerless. I think that she has expressed these sentiments silently by the way of her warm tears and her suffering looks. I was all alone in her bedroom, and I had the chance of witnessing her agonizing sentiments.

From my seat in the bedroom nearby the window and far, physically, from my Mother by a little bit of a distance, but very near to her in spirit, I looked at her all the time and I guessed what has been going on in her depths. On the other hand, she looked at me without saying a single word.

During these last days of her life, the eyes of my Mother and her looks have never left me. She looked at me continuously, in an imploring mood, as if she was demanding if I could do something extraordinary and miraculous for saving her.

In the very short duration of time which remained for her during the last day of her life, my Mother, and very frequently, poured drops of tears while she was looking at me. The tears, shining like the beads of pearls, were flowing out of her eyes. I myself, I wept also with her. Both of us knew perfectly well what would happen within a short time… her departure with no return. These were the tears of adieux… of a farewell. Death was waiting for her.

Actually, I, the son, could not understand exactly what she wanted to tell me. I could not understand what she has meant by her continuous looks at me just few moments before she had her last breath and before she has made her last look at her son.

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The Mother, thought, imagined and believed that her eldest son could give life again to her as if we were at the dawn, the daybreak of the Genesis and that in this domain, that of the true justice, it is Man that should save man, the son should save the Mother.

I felt that she has posed to me, precipitately, certain questions concerning the real reason for my presence, at that moment and in that particular place, in her bedroom, where she would, after a short while, leave this world and leave me in life all alone.

Was not that to save her? In such a situation, where all the doors of Salvation are firmly closed, Man, the son, must help the afflicted and the sick Mother. Otherwise, why should man, who is safe and sound, keep himself neutral while the monster was about to kill his Mother? Why should not man react when he witnesses evil about to strike, to attack an innocent human being?

At that critical and crucial moment I guessed and had the feeling to know what has been passing in the spirit of the Mother. I cried and I cried and I could not stop my tears to come down my two pale and emaciated cheeks.

My answer, my instantaneous reply, was clear and categorical. It was not I who should have saved her, who should have given her the life which she was about, very soon to lose.

"Do something! Save your Mother, my son! Save me, I who have engendered, begotten and produced you. Save your Mother that carried you in her womb for nine long months. Save your Mother who has offered you your first nourishment from her body and from her soul. Save your Mother that has given you life, save me my son."

This was what each drop of the tears of my Mother has told me. She sincerely believed, at that moment, that a miracle could have taken place and that her eldest son, myself, could have been the source of that miracle.

At that time, and in spite of the fact that my Mother was lying in front of me in her death bed, she was really already lost in the profundity of the nothingness of human life. What was left to her of life was a very short and minute part of the infinite time.

Suddenly, and as if a miracle has actually taken place, she looked at me and after that she gave me a smile, just a simple smile. I would never, forget this charming and rich smile of my Mother. It was just a smile from which I nourish and even feed myself until these long hours of my last days.

During a very short time, and because of that smile, I thought, I imagined, that my Mother was really alive and for all the eternity. I said to myself, what a charming face full of life and health.

O! And nearly for a very short duration of time I imagined at once that she has been miraculously resuscitated, raised from the world of the Dead and that she has been resurrected from the other world.

What does this mean? I asked myself. My Mother moved her head in such a way so as to be able to see me fully. O! I said to myself, "Praise to Our God, the King of all men, who has created the Mother and the son, the Mother and her child."

At that particular moment, I have had the feeling, the sensation, that I was a small child, a boy of five years… and not about to be in my thirties. O! During these days of the past, the far past, my Mother wanted to distinguish me from the other small boys of the first public primary school opened in the City of the Brotherly Love. She made me put on, dress myself, outfits, costumes of modern fashion and style that were perfectly made by her highly talented hands, like the small boy’s sailor suit. Likewise, she made me put on my head a sort of a black cap that was only common in a neighbouring Arab country. The cap was called "Iraqyiah" or "Faisalyiah".

"Don’t worry, do not worry, my son," Her two eyes told me. "Don’t worry and forgive me my son to have required from you to be in possession of a super human power. Forgive me, my son, to have committed a mistake at this last hour of my short life on this planet. I could not or in fact, I failed to distinguish between Man and God, between the mortal and the Immortal. This was almost a mistake or even a blasphemy on my part."

The nice smile of my Mother was repeated for several times, but these smiles were mixed up with a torturing agony because of the threat of the pestilence and the absolute despair and hopelessness which were dominating her at that moment.

O! Yes, my Mother has at last yielded; she gave up to her destiny. She has yielded to the nothingness of all existence. But finally, her right hand has risen in the space in front of her in a very slow manner. This hand was directed to her mouth that was slightly open. For me, it was easy to understand what she has wanted.

Ä2嬨ᆘally, she was thirsty, very thirsty. She has become all of a sudden extremely thirsty and she demanded from me to give her the juice of a fruit that was no more available in the market all over the region. She has been accustomed during the last months of her life to drink a considerable quantity of fresh orange juice. It was extremely easy to get, to obtain, this juice when it was the season for its fruit. But it became more and more difficult to get this juice. The orange, at the end of its season, does not contain a lot of its juice. However, we were, in the last days of her illness, outside the season of this fruit. Nothing was found available of this fruit in the local market or in those of the neighbouring countries.

"Once more and again", I told myself, "my Mother demands from me, I, her eldest son, the impossible. Once more and again the reality does not present itself to her in a clear, categorical and comprehensible way. She does not see that I am only a simple and mortal human being."

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She was confused between Man and God, the first is powerless and impotent, while the other is Absolutely Powerful. How much I have wished at that moment that I had been created like Aladdin so that by my marvellous and miraculous lamp I would be able to present to her a glass full of orange juice.

How much I have wished, at this unforgettable moment that all the orange groves, plantations, of the whole world would have been present in front of me so that I would be able to pluck the largest oranges and present their juice to my Mother.

How much I had wished that the sky would have given me of this fruit in abundance so that I would have given it to my thirsty Mother.

Whatever was the case, this desire, this wish, was not at all realizable. Therefore, the second miracle which she demanded from me was really in the domain of the impossible.

Instead of fresh orange juice I brought to her immediately from the kitchen fresh pure milk. She drank from it a sufficient quantity to appease her thirst from which she was suffering. After that she closed her mouth. However, and in spite of all, she was satisfied and grateful. She shook, a little bit, her head indicating that she had enough of the milk.

And yet, she resumed again pouring her tears in abundance. After that, she addressed to me her charming smile on her pale, emaciated and dying face.

es/ Brothers Boarding Their Orange Car
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Suddenly, the lips of my Mother started to move. Some words came from her, words that were clear and distinct to me. She spoke in a low and a whispering voice few words for the first time since several days.

My Mother while she was dying told me the following: "How much you are wise my son, how much you are wise my son! May God, the Almighty, bless you, may God protect you." She kept repeating these sacred words for several times.

All of a sudden, a sweet and an inviting voice came from far, from a distance, which asked me gently to come near, with my armchair, nearer to the bed of my dying Mother. I obeyed without any hesitation or reticence. I pushed myself forward, slowly and without making any noise until I became near enough to be able to hear clearly and without any difficulty the slow and the irregular beatings of her heart and to see her chest in continuous and slow movement.

In an involuntary and an unintentional way I raised my right hand and put it gently and discreetly on the chest of my Mother near the position where her heart was hiding.

O! What an agonizing and distressing experience. I could feel very clearly that life was escaping from that place. Then, in a surprising way, she raised her two hands; a little bit high above and said "The Angel, the Angel, Al-Khadre, Al-Khadre." And then there was the last beating of the heart and the last drop of tears… and the death of my Mother.

That was certainly the end of the world for her. As if I was in a horrible dream… I woke up. What a sudden and a strange waking up and to find myself in front of the bitter reality. In realizing finally that my mother was no more in this world, I found myself for the first time in my life without a "Mother".

Abruptly, I uttered a resounding cry in saying "My Mother, my Mother, do not leave me, I need you, I need you" .This cry, my cry, was re-echoing in all the rooms of our residence and was re-echoing in all the surroundings in our house in the City of the Brotherly Love, in Amman.

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Nobody, except me, was present in the house. There were no witnesses. I threw myself on the bed, her death bed, I looked at her from near, very near, and then I embraced her for the last time.

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For a while, I was in a total confusion, not knowing what to do. I had a look on my dead Mother. Then I plunged myself in my seat. The world around me has become dim, gloomy and dark and I thought that my world was covered by obscurity and by an impenetrable gloom. I asked myself in a confused manner if this was not the end of the world and the arrival of the Day of Judgment.

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Nocturnal Journey

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