The second we hit the pavement, the world switched into slow motion and turned mute. Layla’s loud scream was the last thing I heard before silence conquered all the sounds. I remember I screamed too but I did not hear my own voice. Nothing could have broken the silence. I lifted my arms to protect my face and started reciting Alshahadateen. The right front tyre had hit the pavement first so in the air, the car tilted to my side and I thought it was going to flip over and that it was going to be the end for me, if not for the both of us.
I started seeing flashbacks of my entire life right in front of my eyes. Everything from scattered bits and pieces of my childhood and the major events that occurred in my adulthood up until the moment I saw my grades for this year a few minutes ago. The memories were so vivid I would not have been able to remember them with such clarity had I tried. They felt so real as if I were reliving them again.
I recall bargaining with God while we were in the air. Please, God, if you let us make it through this alive then I would be a good man. Layla would be good too. I would keep my prayers on time. I would perform Umrah at least once a month. I would donate more money to the poor and needy. I prayed and begged for His mercy.
We could not have been in the air for more than ten seconds but it felt like eternity. The windows were starting to break and I could swear I saw the lines forming slowly from a point of origin and spreading like a spider’s web. Finally, I closed my eyes and waited for my fate.
Luckily, the car did not flip over. My side of the car hit the ground first and I felt the power of the collision explode through my entire body. The car dragged in the dirt for a couple of meters ahead. A few seconds later, silence surrendered and sounds took over again. I opened my eyes not believing we had survived. “Alhamdellah,” I said then looked panicky at Layla. “Layla, Layla, are you ok?” I asked. She seemed drowsy but she replied, “Yeah. I guess I am.” I let out a sigh of relief.
Just then, my friend, Ahmad, forced open the driver’s door while yelling, “Khalid, Layla, are you alright?” Turns out, he was right behind us when we exited the university and saw the entire accident take place. He parked his car on the side of the road and came running to us but we could not see him because of all the dirt floating in the air around the car due to the impact. Layla’s door was stuck, too, so he had to force it open same as he did with mine. He helped us both get out of the car because we did not have the energy to do so on our own. He told us he called the traffic police and that they were on their way. He asked us if we needed him to call an ambulance but I said we were fine. I told him to call my father immediately because there will be many repercussions to this accident and my father can use his connections to get us out of this mess. “Do you have insurance?” he asked me and I told him that I did. “Inshallah Khair,” he said and stepped away to call my dad.
I was holding Layla’s trembling hand in mine while we sat on the ground with our backs resting against the side of the car. She did not say a word during my short conversation with Ahmad. She only stared ahead. I turned to her and said, “Alhamdellah for everything. Hey, don’t be upset. What happened has happened. The important thing is that we’re both ok, yeah?” She burst into tears. “We almost died just now. Life as we know it could’ve ended in the matter of seconds. No, I’m not ok. It was scary as hell and I can’t stop thinking about it,” she almost yelled and continued crying. I put my arm around her and said, “I’m sorry. I would undo it if I could. Everything’s going to be alright now, I promise.”
An officer showed up twenty minutes after the accident but thankfully, my father had arrived at the same time. I told my dad what had happened and he promised to make it all go away. Layla was on the phone talking to her family and assuring them that she was fine. I could picture the look on her father’s face now filled with certainty that I was not worthy of being welcomed into their family indeed. Layla complained of her back and so did I in addition to my neck so Ahmad offered to take us to the hospital where my mother works and we thought it was a good idea. Layla told her family to meet her there. My father was going to stay behind to take care of all the paper work and legal issues. He would meet us later. I took only a few steps when I fell on the ground with striking pain shooting from my right knee up into my brain. I held it tight in my hands and screamed because the pain was more than I could take. I gritted my teeth hard. I had hoped that my right knee was not injured again in the accident and so I was afraid of walking on it and therefore remained where I was after Ahmad helped me out of the car. Apparently, it was. I had to lean on Ahmad’s shoulder and use my left leg until we reached his car.
When we reached the emergency room of the hospital, I found my mother waiting for me. She had called in ahead and alerted the ER team that I was coming and that I have been in a car accident and so a room was prepared for me and a wheelchair was ready for me at the door. I was injected with a painkiller the moment I came in. X-Rays and an MRI were performed for my knee since it was the main concern then. The radiological consultant said that there was an apparent tear in the medial meniscus, a ruptured ligament and suspicion of minor hemorrhage. The orthopedic surgeon agreed upon reviewing the X-Rays and MRI himself. I was scheduled for surgery first thing in the morning the following day.
Layla’s family had arrived a while ago and she assured them for the hundredth time that she was fine. They went with her for a complete physical examination while I had the X-Rays and MRI done. Layla’s dad showed me some compassion after he had learned that I am to have surgery the next day. My brother and sister too showed up worried about me. Everyone was scared for my sake and for a moment, I felt lucky to have so many people care about me.
Dad came in later and told me that everything concerning insurance, traffic police, the other man who had hit my car and related issues were all settled and I am not to worry about them. I thanked him and I wondered what I would have done without him. He was always there for me ready to get me out of whatever trouble I got myself into throughout the years.
Since it was late afternoon by then, we saw no need for us to go home and come back so we decided to stay the night in the hospital. My mother and Layla remained with me when it became late and everyone else went home with the promise of coming early morning before I would be taken to the operating room. Layla and my mother took turns sleeping on the couch. I would not have been able to sleep if not for the sedative I was given at midnight.
When I woke up the next morning, I found Noor and Badr talking with Lama. Poor Layla was asleep. Half an hour later, I was being prepped for surgery. My anxiety levels were sky rocketing because being a medical student; I knew everything that could go wrong during any procedure. I kept praying silently while everyone tried to cheer me up and to encourage me each in his or her own way. When the chief anesthesiologist was infusing the sedative into my blood stream right before taking me into the operating room, Layla held my hand tight and whispered into my ears, “Inshallah you’ll come out safe. May God be with u, dear. I’ll be here the moment you open your eyes again.” My consciousness faded away in a few seconds.
Around noon, I opened my eyes for the first time and saw that everyone was asleep on the couch and on chairs except for my mother who was awake. “Alhamdellah,” she said. My throat was dry and I could barely speak. Less than a minute later, I fell asleep again. I kept falling asleep and waking up in a drowsy state until late afternoon when I fully regained consciousness. “Hey, everyone, sorry I kept you waiting for long,” I said. Everyone smiled and started cheering me for making it through. We have been talking for a few minutes when I asked my mom, “How did the surgery go? What did the doctor say? Did you meet with him after the operation?” My mom gave me half a smile and told me that we will talk about it later and that I needed to say Alhamdellah and thank God for keeping me safe. I sensed something was wrong so I asked her again to explain to me or to call the doctor so I could speak to him myself. She then gave in and told me what the doctor had told her.
“The operation went well Alhamdellah but there might be a few complications. Your son’s injury was more severe than it appeared to be in the MRI. The bleeding more prominent and there was damage to one of the nerves supplying the knee as well. In addition, your son has a poorly healed previous injury, which did not help. We can’t really tell now how it would all turn out in the end. We did the best we could and inshallah there will be no complications. Nevertheless, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of that happening in the form of limited movement of the knee that might require him to walk with the aid of a crutch for some time. Of course, with an intensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy program we could help restore his knee into its original state or as close to that as possible. At this point, only God knows what is going to happen. Whatever that might be, God knows best. Alhamdellah for your son’s survival and for everything,” he said.