“Mr. Qashqai?” The woman cleared her throat and with more force she tried again to awaken the man with the funny name, “Mr. Qashqai. Can you hear me?” Not getting a response, the commissary worker grabbed a vegetarian meal from her cart, and filling up his water glass with ice she sat it onto the patient’s bed stand with an impatient thud.
Illaam is in the desert under the late afternoon sun when the prayer bell strikes. For Allah, all activity ceases. His mother and father by his side, Illaam feels peace in his heart at the sound of their voices conferring in unison to their God. Hoping his voice will reach the heavens, his arms lift towards the sky. This is when he sees Moyad several feet ahead, looking tired and sweaty from the chase. When his arms reach the ground, Illaam grins and he prays to Allah that things might stay this way forever.
A second bell chimes. Resisting that fragile state between sleep and waking, Illaam feels himself being pulled away from home. Soon his eyes will open and he will realize that what he hears is the back and forth motion of ice against the hospital melamine glass. He closes his eyes tightly, wanting to be eight for just another moment. Enshallah...Ensha...
He was damp under the bed linens but his throat felt as dry as the desert he had journeyed behind his lids. Illaam brought the bended straw to his lips and insatiably, he emptied the glass of ice water left there for him.