I could clearly hear the deafening screeches of tires as my body rose into the air and bumped into the hard concrete, dragging along it before coming to a stop. I heard a crack; a bone smashing, before I felt the excruciating pain. Motionless now, I saw people gathering around me. I tried to keep myself conscious, but even stopping my eye-lashes from drooping hurt severely. A child dressed in rags, apparently a beggar, was sitting next to me and cleaning the blood on my forehead with his dirty sleeve. I thought of all the times I ignored the pleas of beggars and I remembered taunting them with my friends; yelling abuses at them on signals or in the parking lots of the lavished shopping malls or restaurants. The pain was starting to make me feel numb now.
I tried to move, but in futility. I heard someone calling for an ambulance I saw someone pull the kid away and as the pressure of his hand receded, I felt warm blood trickle down the side of my forehead. I tried to shout, to call the kid back, but could not. In a while I heard the siren of an ambulance, and saw men in white approaching me. I thought of how selfishly and recklessly I usually drove and the times when I refused to give way to ambulances on busy roads. And I thought of the consequences.
In the ambulance, as it labored towards the hospital, a nurse cleaned my wounds and applied ointments on them. I reflected on the times when I looked with disgust upon the caring and sympathetic behavior of my family and my unaccounted-for anger when my mom tried to smother or kiss me in front of people.
I felt my chest constricting as the walls of the ambulance closed in on me. The nurse pressed with a hand on my wound and my body rose of its own accord on the stretcher. I heard the nurse shouting to the driver, asking him to speed up, as the patient was in a critical condition. My mind brought forth to my vision, all the moments when I had hurt people. My family. My friends. And others whom I did not even know.
The ambulance stopped and I was stretchered immediately to the Intensive Care Unit. Oh, how I had always hated being in a hospital. And how I had made fun of people who cried standing against the hospital’s walls and praying in its corridors. I used to label them as hypocrites. I would have never thought that one day, me and my family would be in the same situation.
Sometime later, when I had been pierced with needles and prepped on oxygen, I saw my mom come in, teary-eyed and distraught. As she sat down beside my bed and prayed from the Holy Quran, I thought of all the times I ignored her efforts to get me to pray or read the Quran. I tried to pray but could not remember a prayer to say. I wanted to plead to God for forgiveness for my misdeeds, but I couldn’t muster even a word. Later, I heard the doctor tell my grieving parents that if I did not come out of the coma in two weeks, they would have to pull the plug, as the hospital could not afford to waste a bed on brain-dead people. I tried to shout, to tell my parents I was fine, but I couldn’t move an inch, nor utter a word.
A day was left in my deadline, but nothing had changed. Lying motionless in my room, attached to the ventilator, with only the sound of the cardiogram beeping, I waited for the inevitable. My mom had been sent out of the room as it weren’t visiting hours. A nurse was resting near my bed. I saw the doctor entering the ICU, and I caught a glimpse of my dad trying to get inside. The ward-boy pushed him out. My stagnant blood boiled at his insolence, and I felt unbridled anger.
And then that constricting feeling overcame me again as my eyes rolled to the back of my head. In the pitch-black darkness, I heard the cardiograph’s beep go straight. A strong pair of hands was pushing down on my chest. There was nothing I was able to hear anymore, except the dreadfully shrill tone of the cardiograph. This was going to be it. A man who had lived a dreadful life was going to die in a fitting way. A cold steely feeling encompassed my chest. Was this how it felt like when the soul left the body? My whole body jolted along with the bed. It was the defibrillator. Another shock. Another jolt. And then I heard the beep from the cardiograph resume. The doctor said “Shukar Allah (Thank God)”, as I felt a tear roll down my cold cheek.