The Arabian Peninsula. It was in the cold month of December, 1998, in my adopted desert city that the life altering event took birth.
My son was studying Dentistry in a local college in the neighboring town of Ajman, U.A.E. The town was about 30 miles from where we lived.
Every day I would drive to the college town to pick up my son. There were days when he had to stay longer than usual and on such days I would spend time enjoying Arabic coffee in a sea side hotel as I took in the breath taking views of this quaint Arabian town as the sea mist rolled in and eased my thoughts.
December in the desert is rather cool, chilly and one can almost feel the icy arms of winter tugging at the warm ocean waves, making them shiver.
My mother had been very ill for almost three years. During these years, every now then, several times a year, I would receive news that mother is unwell, in the hospital and I would rush to see her. She was in my motherland. It would take about two hours by air and there were several flights out of my city several times a day. Therefore, whenever she was hospitalized, I was able to reach my country within a few hours of receiving the information. It was a routine. I would go there, she would slowly recover and I would return to my daily life in my adopted land. However old your parents become, they remain immortal to you. My mother had an enlarged heart and her health had been steadily declining over these past three years.
Even if it was a minor pneumonia or infection, I never waited. I rushed to her side without hesitation.
Three years had passed…. in no time.
One evening, as I was waiting to pick up my son from his college, having coffee at the Beach Hotel, I received the dreaded telephone call from my sister, she could hardly speak as she was crying inconsolably and in between her sobs, she said……… “Bhai (brother), Amma (mother) is going …… come if you can, her voice trailing off, she hung up.
This time, it felt different. My heart stopped. My mother was dying.
I do not remember what happened next. I was so overcome by grief that I lost track of time and all else. I must tell you that I was too attached to my mother and she was too attached to me. All mothers love their children but this was different. It was as if she lived for me. As I said, I lost track of time, I lost sense of direction, and I was beyond grief. I now lived in the twilight of sorrow where eyes forget to weep and the mind forgets to think.
How much time passed after I received my sister’s call, I still do not know but when I came to my senses, it was dusk, the sun had just set, I was on the beach, which was completely deserted, except for the sea gulls. The sea was unusually turbulent and it was cold. Only the sea gulls glided low-reflecting my sinking heart.
I remember prostrating in worship, below a palm tree, in the soft warm forgiving sand … for how long I was in that position, I know not. However I do remember, distinctly, praying and crying aloud… to God, begging Him to grant her just enough much time that she could hold me in her loving arms just once more ” ……….. God, you have to listen, You cannot take her away, You are not cruel, You know love so well ….” I was mostly incoherent, disoriented, almost maniacal and I do not remember what else I said. Yet the faithful foe called sorrow emerged from the dark cave and gipped me. I was sinking into the chasms of grief, but I still envisioned light, filtering like little stars through the darkness, twinkling gently. I held on to my faith. Faith was the torch that allowed me to ‘see’.
I must have remained in that prostrated position for God knows how long when I felt someone was shaking me violently, physically and it was as if I was waking up from a deep trance like slumber.
This was when I heard the rumbling, the thunder and the haunting words:
“Go now……….. she will embrace you once more.”
Utter disbelief! Coldest shivers! Was I delirious or dreaming? I looked around.No one or nothing but the turbulent sea, the sea gulls, the cold sea breeze greeted me solemnly.
I gathered my senses, sat there for about ten minutes and regained my composure. I remembered that my son must be worried as I was always there when he came out of his college and this day I was not there to greet him. So I rushed, still in a ‘ twilight zone’ state of mind and told him that his grandmother was in the ICU and that the doctors have given her only a few hours as her vitals are failing fast and that I had to leave for my homeland immediately. My son sat there in the front seat of my car, very quietly and I could sense his sadness.
On my drive back home, I called my wife and told her that I must leave for the airport to catch any flight I can find because mother was in the ICU. I did not tell her one word of what had transpired that evening but deep in my heart I knew some Divine force had spoken to me, that His angels had embraced me and that I had felt His powerful presence.
“Go now……….. she will embrace you once more.”
This was the only voice echoing across the devastated plains of my mind.
The four hour flight was the longest few hours of my life. They were torture.
I reached my homeland just after midnight. I was met by my brother-in-law who was a respected and well known doctor and surgeon. He embraced me and I asked “Please tell me that Amma is alive.” He was quiet. After a painfully long minute, he informed me she was in a coma. After that terrible revelation, we drove straight to the hospital.
We reached the hospital in about 45 heart wrenching minutes. Most of the family members were there as the doctors had said she has few more hours of life left. Without meeting anyone I rushed to the ICU only to be told by the staff nurse that no one is allowed in but my brother-in-law managed to take me into her ICU room. The sight in the Intensive Care Unit is not one which one wants to see yet I was there and there was my mother hooked to so many tubes and machines, lifeless and pale! The cold ocean breeze touched my face once again- this time distantly, as if jolting me back to reality.
“Go now……….. she will embrace you once more .”
I sat down at her feet and started kissing them and was silently reminding God of His promise, of the mystical words that had been revealed to me only hours ago as I sat alone by sea . Deep down I was convinced that the Divine One will not let me down; He will not, He cannot go back on His words. My brother-in-law touched me on my shoulder and softly said that I must leave now and let her go in peace but I stayed there, at her feet. I was left alone with her as everyone felt it was best to do so, so I may cry as much as possible as human nature is, be at peace and reconcile with the inevitable.
It was while I was crying at my mother’s cold and lifeless feet that I felt her foot move, with slight jerk. I called the doctor on duty. He and my brother-in-law rushed in. The looked at my mother and examined her vital signs and concluded that it was a simply a nerve reaction and nothing more. They were not aware that I was not about to believe them. In my heart I was hearing His Divine Voice …………. “Go now, she will embrace you ….” and I was waiting for that because I knew that it was true. Few minutes passed and another jerk and then another ……….. both the doctors were there, observing and seemed a bewildered. Then the seemingly impossible happened. My dear mother opened her eyes, looked me and …………. and smiled!!!!!
I saw the utter disbelief in the doctors’ eyes. As the minutes passed, she was getting better, stronger, breathing on her own. It took about one hour and few minutes when she asked me to come close to her. She asked me to tell the nurse to remove her life support system. They did. They complied reluctantly, in complete denial and disbelief. Next morning she was moved to the general medical ward and was settled in her room in the hospital, out of the ICU.
She had to come back to see me, just like the mystical voice had predicted.
The entire team of doctors and hospital staff were talking about this miraculous recovery. They were at least honest and the Consultant attending to her case admitted that this was most unusual case he has ever managed and indeed, there was no rational or medically sound explanation for this most dramatic recovery
…………………. My darling mother lived for ten more years.
I had begged for just one last embrace, in return, I was given several years to love and cherish the most revered woman in my life- my mother.
The Divine One kept His Promise. To this day, I thank Him several times each day.
He is so close to us. Why do we do not see Him?
Why do we doubt?
Why does our ego blind us to the invisible truths?
Miracles do happen.
They happened to me on one cold desert night as the sea gulls danced ecstatically and the moon shimmered benevolently.
A True Story
By Sarwar A Khan