The day my aunt had twins was not much of an ordinary day. It was the third of June.
Cooking an egg on the sidewalk would not have been appropriate for this day, as it was bleak and a bit overcast. The waiting room of the hospital was cold. I asked the nurse to turn the heat on, but she just looked and walked away as if I were asking something foolish. I had already been informed that many of the staff in this hospital were not polite; thus, I shut my mouth and tried to conceal my goose bumps with a brown cotton jumper that I had brought with me. My blurred tired vision was somehow able to capture people moving. I had never been in a waiting room for five hours straight prior to that day.
The first time that I saw my aunt and her newborn twins was right after the surgery. Half an hour later I recall. The babies looked healthy and little; not that I am a doctor but they looked the same as all babies do. My aunt, though, looked exhausted. She had gray circles under her eyes so I thought I would joke about it. I asked, “Where did you get that delectable shade of gray, auntie?”
She put on a frozen smile and slowly opened her mouth, “Well, you know,” she whispered, “my friend no-sleep-for-three-days got it for me.”
Everyone in the room started laughing, although we all knew that she was still struggling from the pain of giving birth. The relatives started congratulating each-other. I did too.
The news that one of the twins had been diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis came a month after they were born. It was a month that gave me enough time to become emotionally attached to both of them.
I went to the hospital on a Thursday afternoon, a week after I heard the news about the baby’s condition.
“Are you sure you want to come?” asked mom while opening the car door.
“I want to.” I shook my head in a strange way that made my answer seem skeptical. “I really do.”
The hospital walls were painted in white with images of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. I walked silently down the hall. The disinfected smell of the hospital bothered me.
“You know you can wait for me here,” whispered mom before entering the room. “You can come another time.”
We both knew that the phrase “another time” was not appropriate for this situation. Thus, I inhaled deeply and pushed the wooden door open. The room had faded walls with streaks where it had been cleaned. It was quite spacious and had enough room for guests to move around, but no place to get comfortable. In other words, it was cold and sterile. Arti’s bed was placed in the middle of the room. He had an intubation in order to allow the oxygen to travel through his trachea. His chest kept shaking and his eyes were half closed. There was a heart rate monitor placed fifty centimeters above his head which kept beeping. I knew that if the heart monitor emitted a long beeping sound that meant the patient’s heart had ceased beating. That is why that short beep kept me praying and did not permit me lose my hope.
I was sitting on my bed reading the “A Thousand Splendid Suns” book by Khaled Hosseini when I heard my mom at the door. I immediately ran to her.
“What did the doctors say?” I beseeched mom.
Her brown eyes turned up toward me, “Not much.”
“Not much? That is it? Are you giving up? What does that mean?” decided
I abruptly interrupted her, “That fast!?”
“Please, just leave it. I am in no mood for a conversation. Please,” she replied as if she was begging me not to continue.
Two weeks later, a doctor named Petrit (not his real name), heard about Arti’s situation and immediately started working on completing the appropriate paperwork to send him to Belgrade. The documents were completed at a gallop, in one day I recall, and an ambulance had also been prearranged for transferring Arti. The ambulance departed the hospital at 5 am on Friday.
Once they arrived in Belgrade, Arti’s operation commenced at 8 am.
As we were anxiously waiting to hear news of the operation, back in Prishtina, I gently patted my mother’s back and asked, “Do you want some coffee?”
“Yes, please. Two sugars,” she replied.
As I was pouring the delicious Turkish coffee into my mother’s usual cup, I heard her phone ring. My mother opened the message and read loudly, “He survived! Tell everyone, please. I cannot compose a text message right now. I love you.” Then she burst into tears.
Instead of drowning myself in tears of joy, I let myself drown in my own thoughts where my hope had been fighting with reality. I thought about cold hospital rooms and how everyone is going to die, whether it is in a second, or months, or years. However, I could never think of losing one of my baby cousins, and that is why I kept hoping. My hope carried that heartbeat monitor.
Based on a true story