A Long Journey ~ Part 4


A Long Journey

By: Zaharah Nawawi

Translated by: Firuz Akhtar Mohamad Bohari


After bathing with fragrant soap, Rugayah put on some beautiful clothes, applied powder, and braided her hair very neatly. Anyone who later saw her face and body would feel at ease and would be willing to accept the difficult-to-explain separation.

Rugayah’s mind was no longer on Mother, her children, Sham, or any other family members. The only matter in her mind was herself, who would later be lonely in a different world that would never be revealed to anyone alive. Rugayah prepared some supplies for her journey. She took the Quran, which was kept carefully at the highest and the most protected spot on the shelf. After she finished packing, Sham arrived home. The engine rumble died at the end of the balcony.

Immediately, Rugayah put the small Quran in her big handbag. Without looking either right or left, she briskly walked to the car, her full pregnancy making it difficult to watch her feet to see where to step.

Rugayah slowly sat down in the back of the sunset red Proton Wira Aeroback.[1] Her heart and mind were floating in an unnamed place. The green trees were now colorless. The bright bougainvilleas were no longer attractive. Several weeks ago, the same feeling had come over her a few times, but it was not as intense as it was today. Rugayah took a deep breath. Deep. Then she gradually exhaled. Maybe later, maybe tomorrow, air would no longer pass through her lungs. At that time, will I be suffering, or the opposite? The thought haunted her.

Sham’s presence was ignored. The presence of Mother and the children was also neglected. Her gaze explored the clouds and sky. Her feelings flew and settled in the sky, scattered in space. She felt further away from everything that used to be her everyday life.

She paid no attention to her moving husband or the medical attendants in the hospital. Rugayah focused her attention on her responsibility towards Allah, although she had not yet arrived at the destined place. After praying, she recited the Quran. After reciting the Quran, she prayed. After performing the obligatory prayers, she performed the optional prayers. She did as many optional rituals as possible. She did not pay any attention to anyone surrounding her. At that moment, she felt she would be alone forever, without her mother, husband, children, relatives or friends, and yet everyone was only a yard away from her. She was prepared to accept the arrival of the expected moment with a heavy heart.

Near asar,[2] after the obligatory prayer, a validation sign came with a rushing sound. The amniotic fluid was already flowing. Rugayah signaled the nurse on duty. A few nurses in clean white uniforms ran and surrounded Rugayah. Each of them was ready to perform their duty. At that moment, only half of her spirit was left in her body to communicate with the nurses, who would accept the human birth into this temporary world. Asked to lie down, Rugayah lay down. Asked to sit, Rugayah sat.

The amniotic fluid had already dried out from the sac. The baby’s head was greedily rushing to look at the outside world.

“Hold it. Hold it. The doctor is not here. He has not come yet,” ordered a nurse.

“Hold it?” Rugayah felt that she could not restrain it. Her face creased with pain.

“Hold it. Hold it. Wait for the doctor.” The voice seriously asked for her restraint. Pleading. Colors of anxiety enveloped the situation, though this was not expressed through movement.

[1] Proton Wira Aeroback is one of the many designs of Malaysia’s self-manufactured cars.

[2] Asar is evening and one of the times for prayers.