By Anifowose Masturoh and Danrah (Writing) & Abdullah Imran (Art)
Ahmad stood on the Veranda and stared into the calm of the night.The moon was full and the gentle breeze caused a quiet rustling in the trees around the house. He looked on, fully aware of his surroundings. He wondered what the scene before him would look like had he been standing in the place he’d belonged to in his previous life. He liked to think he’d be at the edge of a forest. Maybe he was the sort of guy who lived in a cabin, like a hermit. A cabin with wheels, maybe. He certainly felt like that sort of person now — unapproachable, distant and never quite in the right place. But was he so out of place?
This place into which life had unceremoniously dropped him was slowly becoming a part of him even if he couldn’t logically make sense of his place there. It was over a year now and not much had changed despite the doctors’ efforts. He felt like he was trapped in a dark tunnel with no light in sight. His hopes had been dashed. He had even started missing his appointments with the doctor. It all seemed like a lost cause now.
A year ago, Ahmad had been found unconscious on the road to the masjid by the Imam and his son, Yusuf, while heading home after fajr salah. They had initially thought he was dead, but upon closer inspection, they realized he was still alive. He was immediately rushed to the hospital, where his consciousness was regained. It was when he woke up that they all realized he had lost his memory.
Looking into the moon now, his first memories were still fresh in his mind.
“Where am I?” Ahmad croaked out as he looked into the unfamiliar pair of eyes smiling down at him. He heard the answer but couldn’t make sense of the names. He was just waking up and was already struggling to take in the alien setting. Nothing seemed familiar at all. He carefully turned himself and tried to sit up gently — but not gently enough and winced in pain.
“Easy there!” the nurse said as he hurried to his side to help him. “You’ve got bruises all over your body. Don’t make sudden movements. You need to rest well to allow them to heal.”
“You must have gone through a lot, Ahmad” The Imam who had been standing there all along said with pity in his eyes. The cards in his wallet told them his name and age. Other than that, nothing else was known of him.
“You don’t look from around here. Where are you from?” he asked gently, by way of getting him to speak.
Ahmad stared blankly at them. He tried to give a reply, but nothing seemed forthcoming. “I don’t know. I can’t remember anything.”
The doctor and the Imam shared a puzzled look.
“That’s probably due to the severity of the accident but don’t worry; it is most likely partial amnesia. Your memory should come back to you within a few days.” The doctor assured him.
But days had turned into months without change in his memory. The Imam had been kind enough to let him live with his family, which he’d since become a part of. They loved him as their own. He’d seen several doctors too but the result remained the same. The strange thing was, he’d frequently had dreams about his previous life; the doctors told him it was a good sign and that he could possibly regain his memory. Privately, he thought with bitter amusement that the doctors were playing a game of guesses to keep his spirits up and their practice sane; he was after all, a most unusual case.
A particular man had been the most frequent in those dreams. He didn’t look much older than himself, and he was laughing and smiling at seemingly nothing. It was apparent he had a close relation with him. He had even called him his brother once when describing his dreams to a doctor. But the doctor had warned him not to be too sure. He had felt empty and destitute when the dreams became less frequent. It was the only hope he had.
The first time he heard the Imam’s son, Yusuf, recite the Quran; it had sounded so familiar that he unconsciously began to recite along. It wasn’t long before he realized he had committed the whole book to his memory. This had made him even more anxious to know who he really was.
The Imam had advised him to start his life afresh, ‘Perhaps, it was Allah’s way of giving you a second chance,’ he suggested. But what if he had a family waiting for him? What if he had some responsibilities to take care of? Or was he forgotten, lost forever in space and time?
He heaved a heavy sigh as a maelstrom of emotions flushed through him. Fear, frustration, anger. Where was he going to start? Why should he start over? His past self had worked so hard to become someone, how could he walk away from that? His past self had put in the hours, he’d memorized the Quran, learned to drive a car and who knew what else? Maybe he could fly a plane. Maybe he had a lone cabin waiting for him at the edge of a forest.
He felt like he owed things to figures he couldn’t remember. For so long he’d been looking for a way to find his past self and live up to what that person expected of him that he hadn’t even stopped to think differently. Maybe, just maybe, it was time for him to move on? To admit, despite the desperation to belong, that his past self was a person who no longer existed?
Perhaps it was time to make new friends and allow new people to enter his life. Everything belonged to Allah in the end, did it really matter which setting he lived in to discharge his duties to Allah first and foremost? Did it really matter that his cabin with wheels would stay in the forest unused? Or perhaps it would be used; maybe the squirrels would have a place to hibernate in the winter. Maybe a homeless person would find a home.
He sighed once more. His world was made of questions and he couldn’t possibly think of all of them, much less account for them. And perhaps that was what made him human, like everyone else. Allah is the Disposer of affairs, not him. What he could do, he decided, was to move on. We can only go forwards in life, after all.
About the Authors
Writing — Masturoh is a freelance writer and editor who has written many stories, articles, and poems. She is based in Nigeria and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Literary studies. She is an avid reader, and a knowledge seeker. She is a deen lover and also derives joy in making people happy. She is also currently striving to become a better version of herself.
Danrah is a perpetually tired twenty-something. She enjoys reading but only sometimes. She hopes to one day memorize the entire Quran, and hopes also, albeit with lesser enthusiasm, to visit Japan when she has enough money to buy tickets and accommodation there.
Art — Abdullah Imran is an architecture student from the UK. He is particularly interested in the (often messy) intersection of beauty & aesthetics, spirituality, and culture. He hopes to one day have the opportunity to contribute towards a new, confidently Islamic visual language for art and architecture, God willing. Links: Instagram