Chapter 13: Any other world

Vases shattered, books thrown on the floor, records broken into millions of pieces, the precious guitar smashed against the wall, mirrors exploding and glass flowing everywhere. Mohammad picks up a piece of shredded glass and brings it to his wrist. He vehemently slashes. A fountain of blood goes off.

“That moment of euphoria; totally worth it.” Lana’s voice echoes in his head.
Mohammad opens his eyes.




HE LOOKS AROUND his room; it seems as tidy as it had always been. Yet, there’s this one item protruding from his nightstand. He could see the pills’ shiny package flirting with his attention; calling out for him. After some hesitation, he grabs them and swallows one. Then the other, and another and another till he swallows the whole tablet. With his arm around his stomach and his waist painfully bent, he walks to the mirror to take one final look at himself. Nothing makes sense; it’s not himself that he sees in the mirror, but a lost boy of about eight. His bright hazel eyes, black hair and pale skin make it all obvious; it’s him, Mohammad. Only, he’s back at the moment he first committed suicide, right after his mother’s death. Faces flash in front of his eyes: Lana, Mark, dad, Lana, mum, dad, Lana, mum, mum, mum. Mohammad opens his eyes.




EVERYTHING IS BACK in position; everything except for his heart and his brains. He’s enraged. Suddenly, he moves up, out of his room, walks through the corridor with a bit of stamping his feet, reaches his father’s room and grabs the loaded gun that his father’s been in the habit of keeping in his nightstand drawer since Mohammad was a toddler. He’s in Mark’s bedroom; that same bedroom of Mark’s humble apartment in Mohandeseen. Mohammad busts in, points out his gun and he shoots. Nevertheless, it’s Mohammad who’s bleeding, Mohammad who’s collapsing on the floor. He checks for the gun in his hand, it’s no longer in his hand; it’s in Mark’s hand, and it’s pointed at him. Mohammad opens his eyes. But this time not due to his own accord, but rather due to the hand that had gently touched his shoulder.

“Mohammad. It’s ok, it’s just me, Tonya.” She said trying to calm him down.

“God, Tonya. How the hell did you get in here?”

“Your father showed me the way. I knocked twice, and when you still didn’t answer, your father just opened the door and asked me to get in.”

He took his time, wiping the sweat off his face and trying to make sense of things again. Finally, he was able to breathe without his nostrils changing shape after every single inhalation.

“Let’s stay in the balcony,” he said inviting her in, “we could both use the fresh air.”

It wasn’t a long moment of silence. And the silence wasn’t at all awkward, for each of them knew what the other wanted to say. Yet Tonya was relieved when Mohammad broke the silence by saying:

“So how did you know where I live?”

“I already knew you lived in Maryouteya. But I called Lana to ask for directions and landmarks, you know.” At the utterance of her name, Mohammad gave out a shiver. Tonya noticed.

“I’ve never told you about the time I was banned from sleeping in the light, have I?” she asked.

“No.” replied Mohammad with as less interest as he had found within him.

“Well, I was always afraid of the dark. So I’d turn on the lamp and sleep in its light. At that time, my sister shared the same bedroom with me. She had been used to sleeping with the lamp switched on too. Except, she spent that week with her friend in the NorthCoast and got used to sleeping in total darkness. So when she returns home, she tells my father she can no longer sleep with the lamp lit, and since she’s the elder sister, my father says we shall no longer switch on the lamp while sleeping.” Tonya paused for a while, and observed Mohammad’s reaction. There was none; he was as still as a statue. “So, what do I do? I can’t simply let her turn me into an insomniac when I know for sure that she would get used again to sleeping with the lamp on, only if my father allowed it. So I take my time. Then I start to offer her my cell phone, tell her she could talk up to five minutes in exchange for a night with the lights on. She agrees, and we do this deal more often. Till, after almost five months, she becomes the one begging me to turn on the light just to give her an extra minute or two on the phone. That’s when I go to my father, and tell him all about our little arrangement, explaining that if she truly couldn’t sleep with the lights on, she wouldn’t have traded it for the world. My father drops his verdict and says I can sleep with the light on whenever I pleased.” Again, she stopped for a while. Mohammad was now looking at her, probably for the first time. “I waited five whole months, enduring the darkness and wasting away my cell phone, but in the end, I managed to get what I wanted. Because that’s the sort of person I am, Mohammad.”

“Is there something you wanna say?” asked Mohammad, a bit alarmed.

“I saw the look on your face today at the airport. I know you’re as crushed as I am. You may think this is the end, that nothing can be done. But you can’t simply be farther from the truth. We can do something, we can do a lot of things as a matter of fact,” she now spoke quickly and grabbed his hand, “all as long as we stick together.”



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