I’ll be starting off the first theme with my own little submission
Title: The Passing
Author: Fatma Al Bannai
Summary: The awkward silence as one is helpless to do anything but to wait as death come knocking on the door to collect its daily soul, the soul of a father.
Theme #1: Writer’s choice
Disclaimer: This short story is based on pure assumption and has no connection to actual acts during the time and events of this short story. This was written as a form of expression and tribute.
It’s strange how things just happen; how time just passes you through and changes everything in a blink of an eye. I suppose life is strange like that, where one never appreciates what one has until he realizes how close he is to losing it; even though we are all aware of the circle of life and how eventually … life will catch up to all of us. There was no escaping it.
But then, I personally did not see this day ever coming.
The room was quite, save the sound of the air conditioning and the echoing Recitation of the Quran that filled the room. Yet strangely enough I vaguely heard either of them; all I heard was the ticking of the clock that hung on one of the walls; the sound of life itself.
My eyes moved from the clock to scan the rest of the people who were present in the room from the corner that I was currently sitting in. No one gave me a second glance though and I did not blame them; each of them was lost in his own thoughts and reflections. The air was tense as it dawned to the people in the room what is most likely going to occur anytime within the next few minutes … or perhaps hours; none of us really knew how long this would last and quite frankly I doubt any of us really cared.
I felt my chest tightened as I let out a breath that I did not realize I was holding when my eyes fell on the figure that lay on the bed across the room from me, surrounded by the people who were closest to him. I wanted to be among them but I doubted that my legs could carry me if I attempted to stand. Despite the distance between us and the people that surrounded him, I could still see him just as clearly as I fixed my eyes on him, my mind trying to process the image in front of me as memories of the strong and prideful man whom I have seen time and time again now reduced in his bed, ill and tired of old age.
I knew that this image would be forever burnt in my memory.
This feeling was so alien to me, and I would assume it was to everyone else in this room. This was not the normal sort of environment that we are so used to when being with each other.
It was always been an honour to be in the presence of the people in the room, there was always a sense of pride and joy whenever I found myself in the same room with the people who are currently around me. Debates, laughter and harmony usually filled the area wherever this particular group of people were present, especially when the man in the bed was among us and I can speak for myself and for everyone when I say that everyone felt joy whenever they were around him.
It almost seemed unreal to me.
I heard him speak which broke me out of my musing and I gave my full attention to him; trying my hardest to listen to his now soft voice that cracked with every word he spoke. “Even his voice changed” a thought emerged unconsciously in my mind as I listened. When I heard the first thing he said, I felt my vision blurred as I squeezed my eyes shut trying to contain the tears that had immediately surfaced, clutching my fists and biting on my lower lip to the point where I knew I left a bruise.
Despite being on his deathbed, the first thing he had asked about was his people.
His eldest son, who sat on his right, answered him that they are all awaiting his safe return home; which caused the man to shake his head and close his eyes. I did not hear what he said next but I heard his second son say that he should never apologize for anything; not to them or to their people.
A choked sob managed to escape my throat despite my attempts to hold it in; a heard several of the people close to where I was sitting also let out the same emotion.
“A true leader and father until the last minute”
He remained quiet for a few moment before I saw his hand lift, his age evident from the wrinkles that have edged on his once firm and strong hand, he placed his hand on his eldest’s shoulder and I saw his fingers weakly grasp his Kandora, knowing that he wished to remain strong and firm while speaking to him, perhaps to emphasise what he wanted to say: which was that the people, their people, came before everything else. I saw his son nod in answer before his father lowered his hand again. I felt my breath catch in my throat as my eyes widened at the scene of the man lifting his finger and spoke his final words before he closed his eyes, forever.
For the next few seconds, time seemed to stop.
Tears now ran fell freely from my eyes as they remained fixed on the man on the bed, my body tense as I felt myself panting while a wave of emotions echoed throughout the members of the room when we realized what had occurred. Some were struggling to contain their grief while others openly grieved over the loss that they just experienced. I placed my hand against the bridge of my nose for a few minutes as I spoke a few words to God, wishing that he would bless his soul, praying for the highest reward to the man who has given everything to ensure the best life for his country and his people.
My eyes unconsciously fell on the man’s eldest son.
The new president of my country.
Tomorrow the whole countries will grief his father’s passing.
They will grief their father’s passing.
The passing of the leader and a father.
A man known, loved and respected by all nations.
The founder of our country.