True story of Maha S. retold by Mira Khatib
It’s been seven years since I last heard from, or seen my husband, I don’t even know if I should still call him “my husband”. But he was that till the day he walked out the door pretending to go to his job and never came back home. He just left, turned his back on me, his nine children and the responsibilities that come with us. He chose the easy way out, leaving me to drown. Of course I searched high and low to find him, to learn anything about his whereabouts but I always came out empty handed. It seems like he disappeared as if he never even existed. If it wasn’t for his nine children to be a constant reminder I would have believed he was a dream.
I don’t want to burden you with my heartache and daily struggles to feed nine lives that look up to me, and depend on me as if I am their savior, were I myself need a savior. We lived under a staircase of one of the old buildings, me and my children hovered together to stay warm in winter and slept on a tattered mattress that resembled my soul, that laid on a ground eaten by mold due to the unwelcomed rain that invaded our tiny space. In my darkest moments I wished to never wake up again. If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers that took pity on us and gave us a small apartment to take shelter in, I think I would have lost some of my very ill children to those deadly dark nights.
I keep trying to think of ways to earn a respectable living without selling myself, or using my kids as beggars; as our dignity is all we have left. I’ve slaved in many jobs from tailoring, to cooking to working in people’s homes, anything to put food on the table. However no matter how much I work it never seems enough, many nights we fall asleep with gurgling hungry tummies. But would you believe me if I said that was the least of my concerns? Fate has it, to torture me even more, by making my eldest daughter of eighteen suffer from heart problems. The only way that I managed to have her open heart surgery done, was by having her be used as an experiment to one of the new valves placed in her heart, a chance I had to take, it was either that or letting her die.
Sometimes I favor her over her siblings and sneak a boiled egg to her, hoping that it will help her weak body, but the guilt of not being able to provide the same for her brothers and sisters just tears me apart. I’m living in constant fear of one of them falling ill, as I cannot afford a doctor let alone medication.
Would you judge me if I said sometimes I wish I was a coward and followed in my husband’s footsteps and disappeared? But unlike him I know I could never live with myself, and my rooted faith keeps me going on, and giving up doesn’t seem like an option. The kindness that I see from strangers taking pity on us gives me hope for a better tomorrow. I’m doing all that is in my power to help my children finish their education in hopes their future would not be a dark as mine. For I believe with hard work, patience, lots of prayer and kindness of people around will help my children be the light that I so desperately need, to shine through in my darkest of days and longest of nights.