The Gift – Short Story

“In the name of Allah.
I ask Allah for forgiveness.
I ask Allah for forgiveness.
I seek Allah’s protection from the rejected, Satan.” Abdel Nasser chanted with a heavy breath after he suddenly woke up from a terrible dream.

“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”
I ask Allah for forgiveness.
I ask Allah for forgiveness.”
He chanted again after he took a long sip of water while he is still on his bed.

It’s been years since the last time he saw this same dream. He couldn’t go back to sleep, the call for Fajer prayer had started and it was too loud to force himself to sleep again.

It was the coldest winter since he left Baghdad, ten years ago. Yet, he woke up drenched in sweat. He hates it when he dreams. Nothing good comes out of dreaming, he believes. He daydreams most of the day though, but it is these night dreams that he hates. He knows exactly what he wants to dream about during the day.

Abdel Nasser left Iraq, hoping he could forget the past and starts a new life in Amman. To his dismay, he found that his past is part of who he became. He is now who he is because of his past. Abdel Nasser believes he is not the person who he used to be. He doesn’t like his new self. He grins whenever he hears somebody says ”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.“ He doesn’t believe in these sugar-coated quotes. He is still alive after what happened to him, but definitely not stronger. No one knows about his weakness though, he never show it.

After he drank water, he looked at his phone to check the time. It was 5:30 am – February 27th. He felt a sudden sense of sadness after he woke up terrified. It is most probably because of the date. February 27th 2000 was the happiest day of his life.

He went to the kitchen to refill the glass of water. He then went to the living room and sat on the sofa. He laid back and looked at the small wooden box he placed between the books on the bookshelf. The wooden box was the most valuable item to him. He was too afraid to smuggle it through the Jordanian custom when he left Iraq. After he settled in Amman, he asked his cousin in Baghdad to pay someone to smuggle it for him.

When he arrived Amman, he hated it. “It is just not like Baghdad” he used to say. Unknown to him, he found that Jordanians were very welcoming to the Iraqis. He heard from some Iraqis in Jordan that most Jordanians love Saddam Hussein and many consider him an Arab hero.

In the past ten years, Abdel Nasser didn’t take any action to change the course of his life. He didn’t fall in love or seek a wife neither did he visit his hometown again. “I will let destiny take its course,” he convinced himself.

He grabbed the remote control and turned on the television. The TV became his companion on his solo life. He kept the channel where it was on mute. “She would have been 17 today,” he thought. February 27th 2000 he remembers this day crystal clear. He remembers every detail of that day. A shy grin started to appear on his face. His mother and the in-lows were with him in the hospital. After five years of marriage and trying to conceive, he couldn’t find a better name for his daughter other than Hiba (a gift from Allah).

To be continued …


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