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Nocturnal Journey

Najati Al-Bukhari

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

The night has at last come and the sky was decorated with the twinkling, shining and glittering stars. All was calm outside in the Holy City and from time to time, the bells of the churches were ringing harmoniously and the calls for the prayer were coming peacefully from above, from the high minarets of the mosques of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

I imagined that the world in front of me was not but the heart of a divine, sacred, sublime, lofty and noble lieu. All at once I recalled all the cries which I have heard yesterday in the middle of the night. I hoped that such a phenomenon would not be repeated.

But the calm that reigned in the Holy City was interrupted by the barking of a dog which was found not very far from the hospital. The dog continued barking without any respite or fatigue and I wondered whether the dog has seen or witnessed an abnormal and extraordinary event. After a short time the barking of the dog stopped. Perhaps the guard of the hospital has ordered the dog to keep silent.

I sat in the chair nearby the window and I continued to lend my ears to hear whatever noise that might come to me at that particular moment.

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My Mother came to my spirit. In the darkness of the night I imagined that she was standing in the middle of my room dressed in a blue mauve robe and she gave me a simple but enigmatic smile on her face.

Apparently she was not sick; on the contrary, she was enjoying a good health. As a matter of fact, my Mother looked to me younger than her actual age. I stared from my seat, at her, to be sure that the phantom that I saw was really that of my Mother.

es/ Descending Guru
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Nothing has taken place between us, the two, the Mother and the son. However, she looked at me tenderly and with compassion and she tried to make few steps towards me but she has failed to move from her place in the room.

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Abruptly, my Mother started to show some sentiments of fear and her face has become some what pale and livid. She tried desperately to escape so as to save herself, but she has failed in her attempt because she remained where she was without moving.

The voice of my Mother came from a far distance. She was telling me the following. "They are pursuing me since a long time, the wicked neighbour, the witch of the quarter and your cursed and wicked relative. They have the intention to kill me, save me my son, save me quickly."

Actually at that moment, I saw with surprise and more or less far behind my Mother, the two devils, the witch of the quarter and my wicked relative.

The two were wearing red coloured dresses and were extending their right hands that were carrying sharp knives, daggers. They were trying to kill my Mother. In seeing what has been going on in front of me I was really paralyzed. Actually, I could not offer any help to my Mother who was savagely attacked by the two devils.

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I remained, in spite of myself, seated in my chair in looking at my Mother stabbed by the two murderers. The victim gave cries of agony and torment when she has collapsed and fell down on the floor of the room. I was certain that my mother gave her last breath in her life.

At that particular moment, the two criminals have disappeared in the darkness of the night and, probably, they have gone out of the room by the only window that was there. I tried to free myself from my seat and, fortunately, at last, I could stand up and I wanted to attack the two murderers. As soon as I went rapidly towards the place of the crime, I found nobody there, the place was void. Nothing was there.

The room was void and submerged in the darkness of the night. I realized that what I have been witnessing sometime ago was the creation of my own imagination. However, and in spite of the disappearance of the phantoms, I became really troubled and worried as far as the life of my Mother was concerned. I imagined that she was already dead and that I should go to her room to verify and examine the actual situation and to get the latest news.

Some mysterious and inexplicable forces obliged me to stay where I was in the room and, for sometime, I tried to move myself out without success. I said that somebody would be coming looking for me and to find out whether my Mother was in danger. All was calm and quiet in the room and I thought that the time has already passed midnight.

I started to be ready to sleep after a lively, eventful and agitated day. As soon as I was about to be in bed I heard an immense uproar and an excessive noise, all coming from outside. Without any delay, I was able to identify the noise as the bizarre and enigmatic cries which I heard yesterday evening.

Women and children were uttering cries of agony and suffering. I thought that all the women and the children of Jerusalem, the Holy City, were caught up somewhere in the City and that they were killed, one after the other, as if they were in an abominable and barbarous slaughterhouse. The cries never came to an end. I continued to hear them with stupefaction and confusion.

I had the feeling that I was actually the unique and the important witness of what has been going on in this night and in the preceding nights. With some hesitation I opened the door of the room to see if there were others, than myself, who were conscious of the changes that have taken place in the Sanctity. To my surprise, the corridors and the passages were void, calm and feebly illuminated.

There was not even a single nurse in the corridor. Yet the cries of agony and suffering were heard in the corridor. Then, I thought that I might have been the only person who has been hearing the apocalyptic noise that was re-echoing and re-resounding in all parts of the hospital and in the Holy City.

I wanted to say few words in the corridor but my mouth remained mysteriously closed. Then I hurried up in going to the floor where was located the Intensive Care Unit. As it was the case of the floor in which I was, this one was plunging in an absolute silence. The cries which I heard in my room were not heard here.

I got up early in the morning. I took my breakfast which was brought to me by an employee of the canteen. At eight o’clock I was ready to go down to the floor where was found the waiting-room of the intensive care unit.

And as it was the tradition and the custom, the visitors, men, women and some children, were walking their way into the hall in small groups or individually. Some of them I have seen yesterday and some others have come to the waiting-room for the first time. Many empty seats were available. I went hurriedly and excited into the waiting-room and took my seat there.

When I was already comfortably seated, I saw coming from a far distance the lady visitor of yesterday who told me that she had the habit of coming daily here and that she found the pleasure and satisfaction in watching and observing all people in the waiting-room.

The moment she saw me she put on her face a smile that looked to me more diabolical than innocent. She hurried up towards me and without any hesitation she sat in a chair nearby mine, but not necessarily that of yesterday.

"Good morning Sir. Has the spectacle started or not yet? I discovered that the events here take place in not following any general principle or rule. There are always astonishing surprises and shocking stories. Every story has its tragic end. Most of the stories do not have happy endings. The actors, men or women or both, are always real persons and each one plays his role in a very natural way." explained to me the lady visitor with enthusiasm.

"I cannot understand what you are telling me. I am here for only few days until the transfer of my Mother to the third floor. I was told that this transfer could take place to-day in the afternoon". I replied.

"This is very easy to say but actually the events take place in a strange and surprising manner. The people in this waiting-room expect that the patient would come out of the intensive care unit safe and sound. But unfortunately somebody comes here to announce the death of the patient, of the sick person. Everyday I witness here events of which the majority have tragic ends".

It seemed to me that I was not interested to listen to the discourse of this mysterious lady who sometimes told stories that have actually never happened. Because and all at once I recalled that I had my Mother in one of the rooms of the intensive care unit.

The lady visitor, my interlocutress, has discovered that I was not interested to carry out a dialogue with her. For sometime, I kept myself in my seat but without showing any desire to open my mouth or to lend my ears to what my neighbour was to say to me.

However, I was forced to let my eyes quite open and I was witnessing the coming and going of people in the waiting-room. I waited for about two hours the arrival of whatever news about my Mother.

It was midday and the hall became almost empty. Naturally, my interlocutress, the lady visitor, did not leave the place. On the contrary, she seemed to me more attentive and always ready to talk and to watch.

I wanted to leave my seat for going out of the waiting-room to the toilets. I was surprised when the lady visitor, the interlocutress, prevented me from standing. I was stunned because of the abnormal gesture on the part of the lady, my neighbour. Of course, I reacted violently to liberate myself of the hand of this lady who behaved in a very bizarre and strange manner.

"Wait, wait, you are a fool. Do not leave this waiting room because I have the sentiment that surprises and spectacles would happen soon there." explained to me the lady visitor.

"You are really a fool. Let me go out of this place, and at once." said I to the lady.

"Take your seat, if you please. Stay where you are." answered the interlocutress.

es/ Descending Guru
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

"Listen to me, and do not try to consider me your slave. Lady, I want to go to the toilets and I would come back soon". I answered.

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"Perhaps you are going to miss the great spectacle because of the toilets. Can’t you go there after five or ten minutes?" asked the lady visitor.

"I cannot understand at all what you are trying to tell me. What spectacle are you talking about?" I demanded.

es/ Multistory Tree
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

"Sit down, please, in your seat and try to be calm because you are going to see very soon the extraordinary spectacle." said the lady visitor.

es/ What Is On The Whiteboard
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

Calm and serene and tranquil, yet at the same time a little bit troubled, I took my seat in spite of myself in waiting for the miracle or the spectacular event. But at the same time I could not wait for more time to go to the toilets.

While I was contemplating what options I had to choose, the spectacle or the toilets, I saw a young nurse who was coming precipitately into the room.

"If you please, sir, follow me immediately. Your mother is no more in need of the intensive care unit. She would be transferred when it would be possible to the third floor. The room which she was occupying before the operation is by chance free to receive her." said the nurse while she was going to the intensive care unit.

"This is very good news. I thought that she would stay for more days under the surveillance, the supervision, of specialists and of sophisticated medical apparatuses. Is she conscious, awake? Can she communicate with others… that is, can she speak with me?" I asked.

"Certainly, why not…" answered the nurse.

At this time, almost in front of the room of my Mother, I totally forgot the lady visitor of the waiting-room, the interlocutress, and the great spectacle which she was awaiting. I wondered whether she has already caught up in her traps another visitor of the waiting room, a simple and a candid visitor like me.

Actually, I never thought that there would be a great extraordinary and dramatic spectacle in the waiting-room, as the lady visitor has been trying to convince me. Certainly, the lady visitor has exaggerated and dramatized all the tragic and sorrowful events that have been told frequently by her in the waiting-room.

The door of the room was already wide open and my Mother was taken on the cart stretcher to her bed. I was advised to wait for a little bit of time outside the room till the end of the process of putting my mother in her bed and until the specialists would finish branching the various types of tubes and pipes to the body of my Mother.

In a short time, I was permitted to enter into the room to see my Mother for some minutes. I made my entry in walking carefully without making any noise from my steps.

There at last, we the two, the son and the Mother, were together once again. Evidently, she looked at me only and said to me: "May God, the Almighty, bless you, my son."

I kissed her right hand for a long duration of time and said nothing. The nurse asked me to leave the room all at once. Naturally I went out of the room and left my Mother with the two nurses.

We have stayed in the hospital for one more week. In total, we would have stayed in the hospital for eleven days. My Mother, more or less, has recovered in an unbelievable and dramatic way. Each day she passed, after the operation, marked a discernable and a visible, progress, in her health.

I thanked so many times the surgeon. It was because of him that my Mother recovered, or almost cured of her illness. He himself, the surgeon, was astonished of the good condition of the health of my Mother, his patient.

Without any doubt, the miraculous physician, the surgeon, thought, or he was convinced that there were factors other than those that could be attributed to the medical sciences and the modern technology that could be considered as the real reason for the recovery of my Mother.

Perhaps, it was the Sanctity, Jerusalem, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and its sacred power on all the human beings and especially on those who need its miraculous assistance that saved my Mother.

In few days time my Mother was able to take light meals with the help of nurses. In the last days of her stay in the hospital she was able to stand up and to do few steps inside her room with the aid of a nurse.

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Gradually, and step by step, my Mother has regained the capacity to speak with me for a sufficient time. Frequently she posed to me certain questions regarding the members of the family and especially my father. However, she has avoided mentioning the name of our wicked relative and the name of the witch of the quarter, our neighbour.

During the last days of our stay in the hospital I passed most of the time before the sunset in the room of my Mother. I observed from a distance the comings and the goings of the members of the medical corps. I started to know with some confidence and interest the needs of my Mother in the medical domain and especially the medicines prescribed for her by the doctors and the surgeon.

Obviously, I left the room when my Mother took her daily bath in the bed. By experience and by continuous observation I started to know the good and the bad nurses. Although there were no bad nurses but some of them were better than the others. My Mother has commenced to prefer certain nurses to others. Within the domain of food and nutrition she has developed the taste and the preference for certain kinds of food.

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As for me, I continued to hear the same kind of noise and uproar as before coming from the Sanctity, the Holy City. The cries of women in agony and the children in distress came to my ears from everywhere without any stop. I decided to keep the story of the cries of women and children during the night as a secret absolutely limited to myself only. Nobody would share the secret with me. I did not wish to mention this phenomenon of cries, that has been repeating itself all the days, to my sick Mother because she was not yet ready mentally or physically to listen to somebody who spoke about riddles and mysteries.

I had the intention of discussing the story of the nocturnal cries with anybody in the hospital, a nurse, for example. On the eve of our departure from the hospital I had the courage to ask from a nurse if she would accept to talk to me regarding a very personal problem.

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"As you already know, this is the last day for us, my Mother and myself, in the hospital. Tomorrow at midday we are going to leave this magnificent medical establishment. We are going to the City of Brotherly Love, to Amman. I think that our stay here was enormously useful because my Mother, for the time being, is cured of her malignant and fatal disease. This is a miracle and nothing else". I told the nurse.

"Where is the problem, which you have been confronting and about which you wanted to talk to me?" said the nurse.

"There is something, an event that has been taking place daily during the night in the hospital." I replied with reticence for saying the reality, the verity, to the nurse.

"I am completely ready to listen to your story. Tell me the story, if you please." told me the nurse while she was looking at her watch with some nervousness.

"I have been hearing in the middle of the night, all the days, the re-echoing cries of women and of children, thousands of women in agony coming without any stop to my ears. Everyday, these cries stopped coming with the sunrise. Everything becomes calm and tranquil in the Sanctity". I answered in staring at my interlocutress for discovering the effect of my discourse on her.

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"Are you sure, certain, that you have heard thousands of women and not few of women who were crying perpetually in agony and pain?" asked the nurse in staring at me continuously.

"I am sure of that, because the cries have been repeated every night. When I heard this noise and uproar I was always awake and very attentive. But I did not speak about that to anybody." I answered.

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"Listen to me very well. There are in the hospital two women who have been struck by the disease as that of your mother, the Cancer. However, the two women are young, in their thirties. The two suffered from the pain before and after the operation which they have undergone. Since fifteen days they have not stopped to cry of suffering. In spite of the fact that they take regularly the medical sedatives and calmatives they continue to cry for expressing their pain and their torment. The two young women are married with children, four for each. It is only the two husbands who come regularly to the hospital for visiting them on a daily basis. The two patients suffer more during the night than during the day from their pain. The two now take the maximum amount permitted and possible of the calmatives. Actually, the doctors and the surgeon say, and in a categorical way, that the two patients have arrived at a phase of their illness where the calmatives or the sedatives have no more any effect on them. It is reported that the cries of the two patients are heard all over Jerusalem. Nevertheless, this situation could not continue. The critical and the dangerous situation would not continue like this for a long time. The critical and dangerous situation in which the two patients are found would have an end in the near future and at any moment. Today I come to know that the doctors who are in charge of the two patients of Cancer have called their two husbands to tell them that their sick wives could meet death at any moment." The nurse has suddenly stopped to tell the story and the discourse.

When the nurse stopped talking any more about the two women struck by Cancer I had the feeling that she wanted to leave the room because she has already given me all the necessary information and her personal opinion.

In reality, when we went out of the small administrative room, I made a short stop in the corridor for contemplating in what the nurse has so far told me. I posed to myself several questions regarding the cries which I have been hearing during the nights and which I thought to be the cries of thousands of afflicted women and at the same time the cries of the two Cancer patients who were at the same time resident patients in the hospital.

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It seemed to me that the apocalyptic nights which I have been witnessing during the last two weeks were not but the creation of my own imagination. Probably, that which I have been hearing of cries was not but the cries of the two women afflicted by the monster, Cancer. If I had not posed the problem of the cries to the nurse, the nature of the cries of thousands of women in agony during the night would have remained forever riddles and mysteries until these days.

Before our last day in the hospital, my Mother and I were for most of the time together. I left her room twice or three times to have some kind of a walk in the corridor for a short time.

My Mother did not talk much and I did not talk at all. I looked at her face and I was filled with joy and satisfaction in finding her in a good and healthy condition. Certainly, she was not completely cured, but I judged her health to be satisfactory.

The surgeon has carried out two visits to the room of my Mother accompanied by a nurse of an advanced age. After the second visit he told me that my Mother would leave the hospital the next day at midday.

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When the surgeon was about to go out of the room I blocked his way out to be able to express my thanks to him. I told him that he has realized a miracle and that I have never expected that my Mother would recover her good health in few days time. The surgeon did not say anything and he only looked at my pale face with a smile of pride and victory.

This last night in the hospital of the Sanctity was not at all like others. At the beginning of the arrival of the obscurity I was expecting that the cries of thousands of women in agony would be heard and that the cries would continue to resound everywhere in the hospital and in Jerusalem till sunrise in the morning.

Nevertheless, nothing of any noise and of any uproar has come to my ears. The entire atmosphere was calm and serene in the Holy City, in the Sanctity. I tried to lend my ears in a highly attentive manner just to hear whatever noise there was, even the lowest, and the feeblest noise. There was nothing. The silence, the silence was the absolute sovereign of the whole universe and of all the sky of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, I was stupefied to discover this unexpected situation.

All at once I recalled the discourse of the nurse in the small administrative room in the corridor regarding the two Cancer patients and their agonizing cries every night. I was wondering why the cries of these two women have no more been heard at this particular moment.

The idea of the death of the two patients passed into my spirit and I started reasoning by saying that there were no cries because the two patients were already dead, most probably, in the afternoon or later on in the evening.

I did not sleep very well and I sat in the only chair in the room and I started reflecting and contemplating. While I was plunging myself in a deep reflection, I heard in the corridor a feeble and low noise of a cart that was rolling in the corridor towards the lift and later on, perhaps, to the morgue of the hospital in the basement. Probably the two carts were carrying the bodies, the corpses, of the two patients who were finally strangled by the monster, the Cancer.

After that, I put on my pyjamas and in a quick manner I threw myself in my bed. This last night in the hospital passed by without any dreams or nightmares. Before sleeping I have heard the low feeble noise produced by the steps of the nurse on duty in the night. In the morning, I woke up rather early and remembered that that was the last day for us in the hospital.

The time has passed very quickly. During the last hours of our stay in the hospital I moved for several times from my room to that of my Mother. Miraculously she was able to walk, but slowly and with a little difficulty.

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In general, the improvement in her general health, which she has achieved after the operation, was something unthinkable and remarkable.

A little bit before the arrival of midday, my Mother was ready to leave the hospital. At the same time, I was absent for about half an hour for settling down the accounts with the specialized sections of the hospital. I also kept myself busy to finish some administrative measures that were necessary to facilitate our departure from the hospital.

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es/ Math Teacher
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

I and my Mother have taken our midday meal in the canteen of the hospital. Her meal was composed only of some soup with some pieces of bread. She expressed her desire, but with some difficulty, to go as soon as possible to our home for resuming her normal family life.

I carried our bundle that we have miraculously found at the end of our Nocturnal Journey and inside of which there were all the personal belongings of my Mother and mine for which we were in need for our stay in the hospital.

Slowly I walked beside my Mother in going out of the main gate of the main building of the hospital. Then we walked to the fence and from there we walked towards the paths and the streets of the Sanctity, Jerusalem.

The Sun was at that moment at its zenith. The heat of the Sanctity, even at midday, can be, more or less, tolerated. Few of the passers-by of all ages, were crossing the place where we were standing awaiting the unknown for telling us what we would have to do. While I was contemplating for taking a decision concerning the next step, my Mother with her trembling, low and suffocated voice, posed for me the following question in a tone full of hope: "Do you think, my son, that this is the end of my illness and the end of my fears and my suffering, after the operation and the stay in the hospital in the heart of the Holy City for two weeks?"

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

"I hope that this would be the end of the trouble of your health. I hope that you would be living a more or less normal life. Let us be optimistic. Do not forget that we are in the heart of the Sanctity. It is more probable to be cured in the Holy City than elsewhere. This is a Holy City, this is Jerusalem. Don't forget that you have been operated by a man who looked to me to be more a Holy man than a doctor, a man of science." I said to my Mother who closed her eyes for understanding better my words.

"Certainly, God, the Merciful and the Compassionate, is the One who gives Salvation. Here, I have the sentiment that an invisible hand guides us and shows us the right path." answered my Mother while closing her eyes.

"Certainly, my Mother, certainly; everybody would be happy to know that you are now in a good health. One must always believe in the Almighty, God. So many stories and tales have been told in the ancient times about miracles. Stories have been told about sick people who were miraculously cured and saved. Stories have been told about the dead who were resuscitated to life from their tombs. Your recovery, as far as I am concerned, is a miracle. Everybody in our home would be surprised to know that you are in a good health." said I.

"Do not forget at all, my son, the surgeon, the man of miracles, whose face was illuminating with light. Without him, without his superb medical knowledge and without his excellent training background abroad in the field of surgery, without his blessed hands, my recovery would not have been possible. I think that he is a blessed and a holy man. I was lucky to have been operated by him. My son, I propose to you to have a walk in the holy places of the Holy City." said my Mother.

"It is not possible at all for you to undertake this walk in the Sanctity. You are unable to undertake such a walk, even in a very slow way and with my aid. In the future I hope I would bring you here for visiting the holy places in Jerusalem. But now, we should prepare ourselves for the journey of return to the City of Brotherly Love." I proposed.

At that time, the weather in the Sanctity was excellent. The Sun was going just westward for preparing itself for the final disappearance behind the horizon of the hills of the Sanctity. The birds were flying in the sky. And the twilight was not yet visible. The illumination of the daylight was still dominant and I thought that this was the proper time for travelling and for going down the route towards the valley of the Holy River, and then to go up the hills on the East Bank of the Holy River.

My nocturnal journey of return from Jerusalem to the City of Brotherly Love, to Amman, has been terminated before the sunrise and the birth of the next day.

es/ Takeoff E
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
© 1980-2024 All Rights Reserved

I carried my Mother on my back and I walked all the time with a little bit of interruption. Like my nocturnal voyage to the Sanctity, I had from time to time to take rest nearby the Holy River.

We have arrived at the suburb of the City of Brotherly Love, Amman, and I have noticed that nothing was abnormal. It was easy to arrive at the door-steps of our house by the time of sunrise.

For about seven to eight months, after the return from the Sanctity, my Mother was in a good health and I thought that a miracle has been realized. But after this dead-line of seven moths that came after the operation, my Mother started again to complain from the pain in all her body. The Cancer has been active once again and it was devouring savagely the body of my Mother.

During those days I recalled what the surgeon has told me after the operation. At that time he told me that my Mother would die in a matter of some days, or some weeks or some months.

Her life was, more or less, normal for seven months. But at the end, my Mother had yielded and finally succumbed to her destiny. All of a sudden, and during ten days nothing remained of my Mother with the exception of only the skeleton. On the day of her death my Mother told me "God bless you, my son".

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Nocturnal Journey

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