The Journey to Now; Part II: Two Men Conspiracy
Does ‘Now’ have a plural form?
- Miss Musa (oh that’s my name now..not bad), Miss Musa, are you still here? I checked your program; you have a meeting at…
- I know, but it is raining Mrs Cook.
- Miss Musa, the rain never stops us from work in England!
I started getting dressed while she brought me a huge blue umbrella, and I remembered my mother who would have asked me to come back home had she known they make me go out while it is raining. She only knows torrential equatorial rain.
Now, this is Miss Musa member of the Student Union Overseas Students’ Board; Secretary of Leeds Sudanese Society; only Arab in the Hostel during the 1967 Triple Attack on Sues Canal; and:
- Don’t roll your rs Asha you sound funny our accent…….
- Your accent is not mine Mr Crofts, I am only a foreign language speaker of English and I am proud of my accent.
- OK Asha, as long as you can pass your phonetics exam (I did).
A letter for you Miss Musa; my brother wrote (in Arabic of course): I got this poetic language letter from a Sudanese scholar in Leeds asking if he can marry you, his name is
Mohammad… and he say you don’t know him well and………..etc. That shattered my ambitions! Me breaking all the taboos and family rules, overcoming the loneliness and homesickness and the arrogant man writes to my brother (not even my mother) instead of asking me personally! I dashed around the University, my anger building up, and eventually found him in the library:
- How dare you write to my brother before even asking me! I meet you here everyday!
- I thought…
- You thought the stupid woman can’t think for herself?
- No, no, it is about me; I..
- You are just like all men think it is a man’s world and you decide …..
- Look, yes I thought it is more romantic!!1..
- I am marrying no man with this mentality.
The dialogue went on for weeks and then reconciliation and we went back home, got married and came back for his Ph.D. in Oxford to live happily ever after, but not for long.
The two most important men in my life, my father and my husband, who never met, seemed to have been in agreement about the type of life I deserve!
- What is wrong with him doctor?
- He had a stroke, he is now hemiplegic, what does he do for living?
- He is a university lecturer.
- He can’t teach now, he lost speech and right side movement, besides; he needs an open heart operation to fix valves; can you afford the operation in England.
I did not have to answer that question as friends, family from both sides, universities, all collaborated with us and Middlesex University Hospital in London ‘suffered’ a most unruly flow of Sudanese and friends from all over the world coming to visit and help!
Allah is Great!
One of the most touching gestures was my sisters’ taking turns in bringing our three children to visit their father during the year we spent in London, I don’t even know how they managed the expenses, but later, I noticed that all the Jewellery in my mother’s metal box vanished. The Minister of Education gave me paid leave for a year to look after my husband. Khartoum University agreed to dismiss him for sabbatical leave.
Difficult times; but we were never alone.
In spite of the hard doctor’s verdict and after hard work on pheseo, speech and occupational therapies, Mohammad was regaining talk and walk and 9 months after the operation he was chief presenter in aseminar at the Oxford University Institute for Oriental Studies. I read the article on his behalf and helped in the discussion using our own sign language when he couldn’t express himself clearly. The topic ‘Shelly and the Arabs’ was familiar to me as he used to talk a lot about it during the writing of his thesis in Oxford some years before.
We arrived home like heros having beaten illness. Half talking, half walking we were overcome with joy to join our family, friends and three kids who waited patiently with the most extraordinary grandmother and mischeivous aunts who spoilt them rot!
Like the good omen, the fouth child showed up, and a few weeks after her birth I was invited to a Crossroads'
Operation Course in the U.S.for senior educationalists from the Middle East, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe. Overcome with ecstasy Mohammad offered a 2 months baby sitting spree to relieve me to join the course.
Yet another long journey to mark the never ending road Janice.
To be continued......