Copyright © 2020 Fallow Amber.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Five adults, one story; five daughters, one family; five descendants, united as one by an odyssey.
Dear Baby Boy,
It's hard for me to describe how much I love you! Being your parent has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. And, there's nothing that could ever change how I feel about you – not even your death. Finally, today marks the eighth month of your yet-to-come baby sister. I thought of naming her, Rima, meaning "white gazelle", used to symbolise beauty, speed in one's life and relationships; I pray she'd be all of those.
When I look back at the summer holidays when you were still a child, I can only but smile. Remembering how you'd always tell me to be courageous and pull myself together whenever the soldiers came around, throwing us out of our small sojourns. I'm certain that if you were here right now, you'd pull me to yourself and tell me not to weep. You would have been the milestone for this family, for the whole of Syria, because you held such bravery, valour and prowess; even the maturity you possessed at such a tender age, encouraging the other children and giving them a reason to live on.
I sincerely do miss when you, I and the other children would go on a futile search for improvised food; or how I'd always tell you and the other children bedtime stories of the Prophet just to forget about our few worries and problems – whenever the men, including your father, went out as vigilance.
All the amazing talents you had, is still what keeps me going. From your wise nature to your great thinking and decision-making abilities, I wonder how I wouldn't need you by my side, my dearest Asad.
I miss you son and I wish you'd just come back, but I know you're happy wherever you are. Although we made so many promises together, out of all of them, you broke one, just one – not staying with me forever.
Before I go though, I promise to always love you, no matter what. Even after I die, even after you have another sibling, I promise you, son… My baby, Asad.
Yours always and forever,
In Aidenn In Shaa Allah,
Iman Karam, the only surviving refugee from the Syrian camp now residing in the Tunceli Province, Turkey, stood up from her small bureau once she was done writing the letters to her son and husband.
She walked to a small drawer and picked up her best hijab – a bluish head scarf – to wear for the small prayer session and antenatal care she'd be having, as she always did whenever Rima clocked another month in her stomach. She walked out of the room locking it, with the letters tucked properly in her hijab's pocket, should there be any form of assault again. Though she was now safe, most certainly, from the wars in Syria, the trauma and fear that there might still be a slight case of such there in Turkey never ceased to raid her mind.
She sat on the little swing outside in her little backyard as she watched Asad's, now, fully grown cat, Nabil, round the swing, slowly but surely and in poise. It was starting to age fast and she was so assured that it'd also leave her soon.
She sighed. She didn't have anything left of her friends and family except the rusted necklace from her friendship — a bronze ring from her husband, and Nabil.
The odyssey that changed everything forever. She stood up, once again, taking note of the sun's rays indicating that it was past seven and heading toward eight o'clock. She began walking the familiar path with Nabil in her hand, covered with part of her hijab so that he doesn't sun up.
"I'm tired, I don't think I can keep up." A pregnant Iman called to her four friends and husband when she noticed they had already surpassed her in their flee.
"Nonsense Iman!" Spoke Amira, the strong-willed girl that always seemed to strengthen everyone with her strict nature, "Saif would lift you, Iman, as you are now heavily pregnant." She told Iman before Saif could even assent to carrying his wife.
It wasn't like he didn't want to carry her, but he only wanted the safety of he, his wife, her friends and their child – or children, depending on whichever it would be. He had wanted them to move the following week because Iman was due then and she'd be able to run better while the baby would be carried safely in their hands. But the other girls, Yara and Jamal, had thought it would be dangerous to pass a newly born baby through such a fleeing race. Iman, as she is, accepted whatever her friends said. Saif was right! All her friends died in the war by shot bullets. She, Saif and a few children were saved.
"Mrs Iman Karam, right?" One of the female attendants asked Iman.
She only nodded staring and wandering faraway, faraway to places she never thought she'd revisit after her friends' deaths.
She sniffled, answering the attendant's question of how many people she had lost in the war.
"First it was my friends, Amira, Yara, Jamal and Salah, which was eight years ago; then it was my husband, Saif and my son, Asad, both died on the same day – last week."
All the attendants sat, pitifully watching the pregnant Iman bawl out her eyes. Whatever the Syrians faced was truly heartbreaking. The females came to help her clean her tears, some packing her few items and others taking her into the car that was travelling to Turkey, Syria's neighbouring country. For a pregnant woman, she had faced a lot.
Dating back to six months ago, when Saif, Asad and a few more children had been lost to another war, Iman frowned, wiping away small beads of tears at the corners of her eyes while walking to the city hospital, Tunceli State Hospital. She was done praying her Salat ad-Duha in the mosque, Paşalar Cami, with Nabil, as always.
Her water broke!
Nabil was the source that kept pushing her on, telling her to keep going with his emerald green eyes, the same eyes that made Asad drawn to it. The two female doctors that attended to her telling her to breathe and push while one pulled out the baby, were the least on her mind. She sauntered her psyche and sanity off to how she'd take care of the baby, how she'd cater for it, how life was going to change with the new baby coming along and how many more wars she would encounter now with the baby.
Unforgetting what her Ilah had promised – verily, along with every hardship is two reliefs – she pushed because her life depended on the word of her Lord and the coming of this baby.
"Alhamdulillah, sister Iman! Your faith is truly strong in regards to your name as well. Though you were ill, you still managed to scale through. It's a baby girl."
A baby girl! Masha Allah. As she promised Asad, she named her Rima.
"I feel mighty, Nabil. I feel like we finally matter; and I know we do and we would. I have a dream today, Nabil for Rima and you and myself. That dream is that one day, just one day, every valley shall be exalted and the glory of our Ilah shall be revealed, Nabil. I have that dream." Iman said with so much exhilaration to which Nabil meowed at, even though he didn't speak words, Iman knew he had that same dream and he understood her.
Sitting on that little swing again watching little Rima play with Nabil only in her nappies, after so many years of hardship, she knew their relief was just by the corner with the birth of Rima being the first of it.
Excerpts --- References
- Surat Ash-Sharh, 94 : 5-6 ––– Verily, along with every hardship is relief.
- "I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr, American Minister and Most Visible Spokesperson ––– I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
- Ilah ––– (Arabic: إله) is an Arabic term meaning 'God'.
- Aidenn ––– This is the Arabic word for 'paradise'. Some sources have also pointed toward the name having originated as a feminine Spanish name, and has the meaning 'paradise' in Spanish. The word itself is prominent in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, including his famous poem 'The Raven'. Some also say it is poetic for 'paradise'.
- In Shaa Allah ––– (Arabic: إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ), also spelled as 'in sha' Allah' or 'insha'Allah' is an Islamic phrase used by Arabic and non-Arabic speaking Muslims. The literal meaning of 'in sha' Allah' is 'if Allah (God) wills' or 'Allah willing'.
- Masha Allah ––– (Arabic: مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ), also spelled mashaAllah or ma sha Allah, is an Islamic phrase, used by Arabic and non-Arabic speaking Muslims, that means 'what Allah (God) has willed' and is used to express appreciation, joy, praise, or thankfulness for an event or person that was just mentioned.
- Alhamdulillah ––– (Arabic: ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ) is an Islamic phrase, used by Arabic and non-Arabic speaking Muslims, meaning "praise be to God", sometimes translated as "thank God".
Written by ✨ Fallow Amber ✨