The Journey to Now: Part III
We hated the word ‘colonization’; unfortunately, it is associated in the Sudanese mind with Britain. No matter what the British do, and no matter how great Great Britain is, it remains our colonizer and the reason for half the misery we live until now! Strangely, there came a generation whose ambition was to study in Britain. Perhaps it is a way of forcing redemption of old debts of the half century long colonization, or claiming rights being denied one day, like education. My grandfather used to think that the British are the most educated, civilized, humane people on Earth.
May be this justifies why I never felt an urge to visit the States. I was not overjoyed with the prospect of six weeks tour of twelve states in America! Nevertheless it was the most fruitful booster to my career; and I spent an enjoyable work-holiday with a highly selective international group lead by a woman I consider one of my idols in the field of ELT. She inspired me to the extent that my first ‘writing’ successes was the translation of her book, Techniques and Principles of Language Teaching, into Arabic under the sponsorship of OUP and King Saud University. That monitor was Prof. Dianne Larsen-Freeman.
The link between Sudan and Britain privileged me with the acquaintance and friendship of some of the most extraordinary women I met in my journey, who left some unforgettable marks in my life. I am still in touch with them and I hope the friendship continues to mark values beyond any political hazards.
Now, here we are America. Brattleboro, Vermont School for International Training would always draw a smile on my face as the hosts tried their best to make it an eventful feature. During a farewell gathering Dr. Dianne told us to wish for one last activity before heading home. People asked to go to Fairs and Libraries and monumental spots etc. And
- what would you like to do Asha? – Ammm I would like to go where I can buy a pair of jeans and a full size Michael Jackson picture! Education Expert or no…I am just a mom and that is what my sons wanted! Sure enough we were taken to that place where the Stars leave their foot prints and the whole group of respectable Inspectors and Principals were overjoyed and bought piles of souvenirs.
That was a good time!
Coming back, my route was through London as I wanted to get some books from Oxford for Mohammad. In London, I stayed in a small guest house in an area I lived in while Mohammad was in Middlesex Hospital. I felt tired, depressed and homesick for my 4 months baby; I saw a black button above my bed; I pushed it out of mere boredom and sure enough I heard that famous Algerian? Singer singing softly:..Oh..Aisha! He made my eve! I laughed and went to sleep thinking of Major Petkoff in Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man,; he was shouting for his servant after coming from the war and his wife told him: Don’t shout , it is not civilized; now you push some button on the wall, something tinkles in the kitchen and then Nicholas comes up.
All seemed well; Mohammad, helped by my sisters especially Adla, looked well after the children. Everyone was happy with the presents and adventurous stories.
Back to the Ministry of Education, In-Service Teacher Training Department.
One year passes.
A British Council Scholarship to the University of Manchester for a Master Degree in TEFL; can you manage that Asha, Fiona asked looking at me suspiciously; of course I can. –What about your family? – I will leave them here and they join me on school break.
Extended family support, Mohammad insisted, children excited, and off you go Asha feeling that you are exploiting these people’s generosity and neglecting your children, and what on earth do you need an M. A. for? But you went all the same and took the eldest son with you as his father wanted to reward him for the all As GSC which he got that year.
Waddah, eldest son, was good company and the people in the hostel thought that he is the scholar and he brought his mom with him. He loved that of course, men, at 19 he was a tall handsome young man. What would a woman from Sudan, in her forties, all wrapped up in her national dress do in a university hostel other than look after her son! The old story is coming alive; like father like son!
Spring break, the other three with their father came, I was finalising my thesis and already passed all my examinations. We had a grand Sudanese supper in my small flat in honour of my supervisor who wanted to meet my family.
6:00 a.m., -Waddah, call the ambulance.
- What is wrong with him doctor?
- Complete paralysis, keep talking to him or we would lose him.
- What do you mean?
- I mean if he is lucky, after extracting this blood from his spine, he would live.
- Don’t stop Mohammad tell me about that book you wrote after I left.
- How is he now doctor?
- His upper body is back, but I am afraid, he won’t ever walk again, paraplegia.
- Is it terminal?
- No, no, he could live longer than any of us.
- ‘Hamdulillah’, Thanks to Allah.
- We will take him to Salford Hospital for physiotherapy.
Aunts came to the rescue, the hospital more than understood and they provided me with a desk in the all men ward, and that is how I managed to finish my thesis on: Writing in Sudan Secondary Schools.
This time the doctor’s verdict is not only that Mohammad would never walk, but watching me from the window of his clinic while I was lifting him, he told me that I would soon be ‘crippled’ like my husband! He invited me to an in-house course of nursing a paralysed person and that was truly helpful, ( I am not yet crippled but have gone through major back-disk support operation and can still use only 2 legs now!)
Back home. Wheel chairs and vast equipment, well trained in monkey grip and how to use all kinds of necessary medication, firm decision that one of these kids should go into medicine ( Waddah took to Engineering), and strong willed man, we trooped back to a slightly changed life: more wheels, less stairs, lots of space, etc. Students now have to come to the house for their seminars but most of the time I drive Mohammad to the University and Waddah, being a student at the same university would help me and then back to my office.
It is just another kind of life.
Number 4, Reel, was only three years old then. She was the constant companion of her father during the day. She would lie next to him following the words with her finger while he read aloud; before long, she surprised him by asking if he wanted her to read for him. He said yes, and sure enough she read the paper before attending Nursery School.
Now what doctor?
To be continued…….