من جد تبغى ترجع؟

 Image“من جد تبغى ترجع؟”

قالها بكل استنكار واستغراب ممكن حتى ظننت أني قلت كفراً صريحاً . “أنا هنا منذ ١٠ سنوات ولا أفكر في العودة أبداً.” ألقيت نظرة طويلة عليه . مهندم الملابس حسن المظهر ذو جسد رياضي ويبدو أن السنين التي قضاها في الغربة أحسنت إليه . معيد سابق بجامعة سعودية والآن استشاري وأستاذ مساعد في إحدى أحسن مستشفيات العالم الجامعية بأمريكا بعد أن حصل على الزمالة الطبية والتخصص الدقيق من مراكز متميزة وفي مجال نادر ويعاني من نقص حاد في السعودية . “بعد أن أنهيت تدريبي تلقيت عرضاً بالعمل من المستشفى الأمريكي الفلاني وأنت تعرف سمعته . أغروني بالحياة والمرتب الرائع والإمكانيات البحثية التي لا تتواجد في السعودية فآثرت المكوث هنا وأخبرت جامعتي الأساسية بأني لن أعود. وأعود لماذا؟ للبيروقراطية والمحاباة وغياب الدعم المادي والمعنوي؟ لا تخليني أحكيك البلاوي اللي أعرفها عن فلان وفلان وعلان ! وتخصصي نادر غير موجود أصلاً في مستشفى الجامعة ولا تتوافر أدنى المقومات العملية والعلمية فيه . مجنون أنا؟”-

قمت بابتلاع لساني كي لا أذكر ما قد يعد من سوء الأدب . وقمت بتحليل منطقه في عقلي بهدوء علي أجد له مخرجاً. تقوم الدولة وفي هذه الحالة الجامعة بابتعاثك إلى الخارج وتصرف المبالغ الطائلة كي تعود إليها وتقوم بخدمتها والمساهمة في نهضتها . بل وتوقع تعهداً خطياً بذلك . عدم عودتك عزيزي المبتعث مخالف للقانون وإن كنت لا أعرف إن تم تطبيق عقوبات بخصوص عدم العودة من قبل لكن الأهم من ذلك – وهذا رأيي الشخصي – أنه غير أخلاقي وغير جائز وربما يترتب عليه حرمة المال والرزق المكتسب عن طريق هذا العلم وهذه الشهادة . لم لم تذهب على حسابك الشخصي إن كانت هذه نيتك؟-

عندما تركت الدولة عزيزي الاستشاري كنت عارفاً وملماً بالوضع لم تصدم فجأة بالواقع عندما أنهيت تدريبك . من سفاسف القول أن تذكر غياب الإمكانيات والخبرات . أنت كنت نواة المستقبل في هذا التخصص لكن أبيت أن تعود . أستطيع أن أعدد لك العديد من الأساتذة الذين عملوا وصنعوا هذه المستشفى بعد أن لم تكن شيئاً . وبالمناسبة ، هناك استشاريان في تخصصك الآن وهم في طور تعزيز الإمكانيات . من عدم الحكمة تجهيز الجوامد قبل البشر .

أمريكا لا تحتاجك . هذه حقيقة مرة . هناك ألف غيرك من جميع الجنسيات بل وأفضل منك في كل ما تفعله . غيابك لن يفتقد بل سيجدون بديلاً . جامعتك ووطنك ستفتقدك . أبناء وطنك وطلابك سيفتقدونك . نحن بحاجة إلى هذه الخبرات أكثر من الغرب . يجب أن نستورد علمهم لبلادنا عوضاً عن تصدير خيرة شبابنا لهم .

حصولك على جائزة نوبل وأنت في أمريكا – فرضاً – لا يرفع من قيمة وطنك كثيراً بالمناسبة . قد يرفع من هامتك الشخصية ومن اسم المركز العلمي الذي عملت فيه والجامعة التي تلقيت علمك فيها لكن الواقع أن جميع زملائك ومساعدينك هم أمريكيون بامتياز . الانجاز العملي يتمثل في صنع نواة الإنجاز الآن . أنا لا أريد الفوز بجائزة نوبل . ما أطمح إليه أرقى . أتمنى أن يصبح أحد طلابي من الفائزين بعد أن تهيئت له البيئة لتحقيق ذلك . هذا الإنجاز أسمى في رأيي المتواضع من نصري الشخصي بجائزة أو تقدير .

لست بحاجة إلى سماع بلاوي فلان وعلان فرائحنها فائحة . أعرف المستخبي واللي برة لكن ذلك لا يمنعني من أن أكون أنا الشمعة في الظلام . ظلمت كثيراً أنا من الجامعة التي أعمل فيها معيداً حالياً وأعمل لإصلاحها من الداخل . إن أنت هربت وغيرك ضعف وآخر صمت تركنا المجال للطاغي كي يستطغي أكثر . الهروب من المشكلة يزيد في حجمها .-

“ترى الوضع خرباااااااان . مافي فايدة . دي غير قابلة للإصلاح” يقولها بكل ثقة .”إنت كمان زيه؟! أسعفيني بالله في زوجك!” يخاطب زوجتي التي تعمل كمعيدة أيضاً بنفس الكلية . أحترم رأيك وأقدر أن هناك ربما ظروف لا أعرفها قد أجبرتك على القيام بما قمت به لكن رجاءً لا “تكسر مجاديفي” كما يقولون . نبرة السلبية في صوتك لا أقدرها . أنا مجنون ربما وسأستمر في جنوني . لو لم أر أملاً ما قمت بالالتحاق بها لكن أنا وزوجتي مع عدد من الزملاء لدينا رؤية مشرقة للمستقبل . أقوم بمساعدة الطلاب وكل من هم أصغر مني رغبة أن يلتحق الآخرون بالرؤية . هؤلاء هم المستقبل . أنا لا أسعى لإصلاح من هم أسبق وأكبر مني علماً وخبرة . وإن لم أستطع إصلاح أي شيء فيكفيني الشرف بأني حاولت وربما يأتي بعدي من يحاول كما حاولت بسببي .

هذه الرؤية المثالية ربما تتحطم على شاطئ الواقع عندما أقرر العودة وأواجه غلاء الأراضي وتكاليف المعيشة وأقساط السيارة وأسعار المدارس للبزورة ! أقول ربما . لكن حتى تلك اللحظة ، أنا أملك هدفاً واضحاً ولن أحيد عنه بإذن الله .

عزيزي المبتعث ، الرزق ليس بالمال وحده بل بسعادة البال ووفرة الصحة واستقرار الحياة . أمريكا وغيرها مغرية جداً بل بلا حدود لأسباب لا أستطيع حصرها . لكن إن أردت رأيي المتواضع فربما تحل البركة في رزقك بما تعقد عليه نيتك . وطنك – بجميع التحفظات التي قد تكون لديك عليه – بحاجة لديك أكثر من أي وقت .

عزيزي الاستشاري الكبير بخصوص سؤالك . إيوة من جد أبغى أرجع .

Stop Child Abuse

I just wanted to share this video of another campaign by the always original and wonderful Full Stop Advertisement. As a future pediatrician and an avid advocate for children’s rights, I found this to be very touching and deserves every bit of attention. It’s a good thing that media in the last few years has been addressing this issue and I believe more efforts toward increasing the public’s awareness of child abuse is warranted and long time overdue.

A few months ago, I have attended a grand meeting held at KAUH led by Dr. Soad Jaber, an associate professor and a consultant pediatrician, and head of Child Abuse Committee in the hospital who’s also a board member of many child rights and charity agencies. It’s clearly a problem and better rules and regulations need to be implemented in Saudi Arabia to prevent it from happening.

Unfortunately, it’s late now and I’m too tired to talk lengthly about it but I hope you watch the video and share it with your friends so we can all do our part.

PS. Doha ya doha, the chant you are hearing is an old and traditional Hejazi lullaby mothers used to sing to their children back in the days and hopefully will continue to do so.

You can get it on your mobile phone through MBC Mobile Services by calling 700-522-000 if you live in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and Swine Flu: Current Status

This article will not be discussing Swine Flu/H1N1 virus in details but rather will address the current status of Swine Flu in Saudi Arabia in addition to some educational tips. For more information visit the Wikipedia 2009 Flu Pandemic Page or Center of Disease Control H1N1 Flu Page

First of all, let’s address the nomenclature. There have been a lot of debate that Swine Flu is not an accurate name to describe the condition caused by the H1N1 virus which is a mutation of four strains of influenza virus, two of which are endemic in pigs. However, for easier reference, Swine Flu in this article will be addressed as such.

There have been over 300 reported cases of Swine Flu in Saudi Arabia to this date with 4 unfortunate fatalities. There could be even more than 300 cases documented but the Ministry of Health have decided that it will not publish daily counts of the disease unless there are specific causes to do so because most of those cases are considered mild. However, the Ministry is keeping track of those numbers to monitor the progress of the disease.

The 4 deaths occurring in 3 different regions of the kingdom are sparking alarm. The first fatality was of a 30-year old Saudi man who passed away in Dammam, Eastern Province, despite hospitalization and treatment with antiviral medications. The second fatality also occurred in the Eastern Province and it was of an Indonesian expatriate who was 28 years old. The 3rd case was of Saudi male nurse in Al-Qasseem who was 32 years old. The last one to reported was in the Northern region of a 25-year old Saudi man.

These numbers are particularly alarming when we consider the fact that Hajj season is just around the corner. Pilgrimage usually takes place one time a year during Dhu al-Hijjah which the month of Hajj according to the Hijri Islamic calender. It is only 3 months away and plenty of those hoping to perform Hajj will be start visiting the holy cities starting from the month of Ramadan and afterwards.

The ministry of health has again confirmed that it has a clear strategy regarding this year’s Hajj season of which the cases of Swine Flu are expected to escalate. One of the first steps of control is that the Arab Health Ministries in their meeting in July in agreement with the Saudi Ministry of Health has decided to prevent certain vulnerable groups from performing Hajj this year including but not limited to: Men over 65 years of age, children under 12, patients with chronic debilitating diseases and pregnant women.

World Health Organization also has issued its recommendations for the Swine Flu vaccine that is expected to be available at the end of 2009, which prioritize the following groups to receive it: Household contacts of children younger than 6 months, Children and young people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years, Health-care workers and emergency medical service personnel and those with conditions that increase the risk of complications from influenza. It is also recommended to take the seasonal flu vaccine in addition.

There have been reports that hospitals in Makkah are not well equipped to deal with the large number of pilgrims expected this year, nearly 2 millions, with insufficient amounts of antiviral medications and seemingly absence of required vaccines. The Ministry of Health is currently working on this.

One of the main issues in Saudi Arabia is the lack of health education. There have not been much reports or public messages to increase the public;s knowledge of this condition, how to prevent it, when to seek medical attention and to rectify many of the misconceptions regarding this disease, one of which I have heard of myself; we can’t have swine flu here in Saudi Arabia because we don’t have pigs! More effort should be put in this area to educate the public especially now when Hajj season is near.

Now is Swine Flu a well staged play that is not actually worrisome? Some of you are well aware that the “regular” Influenza virus kills over thousands if not tens of thousands of people every winter each year. So why the worry from Swine Flu which its international death toll is not over a thousand yet? Well, the facts that its spread is more rapid than the usual strains in addition to the fatalities that happened to young men and women that were considered healthy otherwise. However, you do not need to panic.

Just take a quick look at the two links I have posted above and follow the required precautions and inshallah you’ll be just fine. May God keep you safe and healthy!

PS. You are free to eat pigs since its consumption does not lead to Swine Flu. However, it is Haram you know!

Chapter 25.

[Layla is calling] The mobile phone’s screen informed me. I silenced it and threw it on the bed. I did not have the energy to speak to her. Answering her call will probably result in another fight and I grew tired of that. I stood in front of the mirror and stared hard at my reflection. “Why do you do this?” I asked. I looked into the eyes looking back at me filled with blame and resentment. I hated the man I have become. How did I end up like this? I wondered. A pathetic miserable jerk is all I am. I took a perfume bottle and threw it at the mirror breaking it into many pieces. I looked at my distorted reflection in the few pieces left separated by black patches and lines. I thought to myself, “Now this looks more like me.”

 

That was the first break of many to follow. Too many broken promises, too many prayers to make things right, too many apologies and tears, too many sleepless nights, too much pain, guilt and swallowed pride had had their toll on us. We still loved each other. We wanted to fix things between us badly but wanting to fix things is not enough if you do not know how and we did not.

 

We were on our second break when the 6th year’s finals started. I locked myself in my room and did not go out unless I had to. I burned myself studying. It was the only thing left that I had control over. I was determined to prove to everyone that the crutch I depended on did not hold me back. I was going to become a good physician and nothing would stop me from achieving that. In the middle of the exams, Layla sent me a short message asking how I was doing and I replied with a shorter one saying that I was fine. When the exams were over, a strange sense of emptiness conquered me. A part of my life was over and it made me feel hollow. I had replaced my family, friends and even Layla with mute books and now it seemed even books were abandoning me.

 

Do you know what it feels like talking to an old friend whom you had lost touch with a long time ago? Even though you used to be close and you share many fond memories together, somehow you do not know where to begin or how to pick up from where you had left. The once friend has turned into a stranger. I called Layla the night I was done with my exams and that is how I felt. It felt weird asking her about work and her family in general. Our words were precise and short. We were simply polite towards each other as if the call was an obligation. For the first time I remember in our relationship, I did not have much to say to her. Ten minutes later, we hung up and sadly, I was relieved we did.

 

A week later when our results were posted, I found out I had finished 7th on my class which is a huge achievement. I called Layla immediately to tell her the news. “At least the month in which you completely ignored me paid off,” she said. We had an argument over the phone and I hung up on her. After such a thing, no achievement would have a taste or a meaning. Friends called to congratulate me and I was not in festive mood anymore. That night, my family put together a small celebration for me. I felt neither proud nor joyful.

 

“I’m going to Egypt tomorrow with my family. I need to get away for a while,” she said. I knew what she could not say. She needed to get away from us, from me. I told her to enjoy her time and that we will talk when she gets back in a couple of months. I was going to Dubai myself with my family so we both hoped that the time and distance would help us clear a few things.

 

In Dubai, I went berserk on my mother one day. My brother and sister wanted to go to Wild Wadi, an aqua park, but she refused to let them go because I was not capable of accompanying them. “Your big brother can’t go so you’re not going, too. It will upset him if you two went without him,” she had told them. I yelled at her, “If I’m going through shit then I will go through it alone. Others don’t have to. Noor and Badr shouldn’t suffer because of me. It’s enough the amount of things they endure for my sake. You need to stop worrying about me and then letting out your frustrations on someone else. I try to avoid you when I’m not feeling alright but then you come and while you’re trying to make it better, you make it worse.” I stormed out of the hotel room. I came back later and apologized but the damage was done.

 

When Layla came back from Egypt, I had started my internship. We tried to resume our dysfunctional relationship. Things kept going down hill. Layla was content on remaining the passively hurting part with occasional outbursts of anger while I continued being the aggressive attacker. She waited for a sincere apology that will take effect in my actions towards her but hollow words were all I offered.

 

Our families tried to help us. In the beginning, they served as a good diffuser for us and we liked having them around. However, eventually, we started dragging them into our arguments and they did not appreciate that. We used them as fuel, weapons and armors in our fights. Our friends tried to help us too but it was something we had to fix ourselves.

 

We tried to survive on memories of a better time but how long can you do that? At first, it makes you think what a shame it would be to throw something as beautiful as what we once had away and therefore you try to make things right again but after some time and failed attempts, it becomes a cause of hurt and disappointment. Looking back at what we used to be and comparing it to what we had become. How did we get here? We would ask ourselves over and over again. The hurt and disappointment are only made worse when the contrast between the past and the present is so obvious, so heart wrenching.

 

The final straw that broke the camel’s back was when I started smoking. Layla would not have it. “Since when do you smoke?” she asked me, shocked, when she found the pack of cigarettes in my car. “Over a month now,” I told her. “When were you intending to let me know?” I shrugged and did not answer. I told her that a few cigarettes a day do not make me a smoker but she said that one is as good as an entire pack as far as she is concerned. I do not really recall why I started smoking to tell you the truth. I had just gotten out from a long tiring shift when I met a friend of mine smoking outside the hospital. I asked him for a cigarette. “But you don’t smoke,” he said, surprised. “I do now,” I told him. It burned my mouth and I did not like its taste. Nevertheless, I finished it. I liked the way it made me feel.

 

Nine months of my internship had passed then. A few days later, Layla’s father called me and asked me to meet him at their house the next day. I went, not knowing what to expect. The entire time my relationship with Layla was deteriorating, he did not get directly involved. He simply remained distant. He watched from afar waiting for her to turn to him and admit that she was indeed wrong and that perhaps I was a mistake in the end.

 

“Son, I think you and Layla should leave each other for good,” he said. Just like that. Without any introductions, without any warnings or signs of any kind, he threw this bomb at me. I blinked my eyes then opened them wide in disbelief. “What?” I said, thinking that maybe my ears had fooled me. “You heard me. I had spoken to Layla and convinced her that this is the best thing to do. I watched you torture my daughter for over a year now and I won’t let you do that anymore. Do you have any idea how many times you have upset her and made her cry? Do you have any idea how unhappy she is? I hardly ever hear her laughing from her heart like she used to. She is a bright spirit but you crushed her soul. Her only fault is that she loves you. Do you think you’re the only one who suffers? Trust me. She feels the pain you feel if not more. I had a bad feeling about you from the very first day. I didn’t know why but I had a hunch that you’ll make my daughter miserable and time proved me right.

 

You are both still young and it would be a shame for you to destroy each other’s chances of happiness in the future. I will not sit and watch my daughter spend her days in agony over something that is not worth it. She deserves the happiness you obviously can’t offer her. So if you truly care for her, you have to let her go.”

 

Each word he said felt like a stone being thrown at me, like a dagger being inserted into my flesh. I did not know what to say. I did not know how to respond. “I need to speak to Layla,” I said. He stood up and called for her. “She’ll be down in a minute,” he said and went upstairs, leaving me alone with my thoughts. “You should leave each other for good.” His words were still echoing in my head. Even though Layla and I did not have a wedding yet, we were technically married. He means divorce. He wants me to divorce Layla. People terminated Melkas all the time but I never realized how hard it could be until I was faced with that option. “Divorcing Layla,” I kept repeating that sentence in my head.

 

I saw Layla coming down the stairs slowly. There was a blank look in her eyes as if she was lost in another world. She sat in front of me and stared at the floor. “Do you know what your father just told me? Do you agree with what he said?” I asked. She did not say a word and just took a deep breath. I tapped on the table with my fingers. It was an unbelievingly uncomfortable situation. “So now what? Do you want us to part then? Is that what you think we should do?” I asked. She kept staring at the floor not saying anything. “Layla, say something,” I pleaded. “I’m tired,” she said then sighed before continuing, “I’m tired of you. I’m tired of me. I’m tired of us. I’m tired of fighting all the time. I’m tired of pain. I’m tired of unhappiness. Do you understand me? I’m tried and I don’t know what to do anymore.” She lifted her head and her eyes met mine for a second before she looked away. There were frozen tears in her eyes.

 

I knew what she wanted and needed. That was my cue, my sign to rise up to the occasion. She wanted me to take her into my arms. She wanted me to promise her that everything was going to be all right. She wanted me to fight for her, to stand up and say that I am not giving up on us that easily. She wanted me to give her hope that we can still make it through. She wanted me to put together her broken soul. She wanted me to apologize and make up for all the mistakes I have done. She wanted me to be the man she fell in love with a long time ago. She wanted me to say I loved her.

 

I took a long look at her then closed my eyes so I do not see her face. “Maybe we should go our separate ways. I’m sorry,” I said.