Rose could hear her heartbeat, she gently opened her eyes and sighted a vintage ceiling fan slowly spinning above her. She looked around and spotted her bag on a table not far from the bed she lay, the room looked a bit dusty and quite small for a hospital or any kind of clinic. Rose knew she was not in any hospital and had no idea how she got there in the first place, as she tried to move her left leg she felt a striking pain. She groaned and placed her head back on the pillow gently. Rose lifted her head a bit and realised her left leg was tied up with sticks and bounded with some pieces of rag, sort of a hurriedly made casts to hold her leg in one position. She also noticed something like a newspaper kept not far from her feet.
“You need to stay put, uncle Junaid will be home soon. He went to get some medicine from the naturopath!” said a young girl smiling as she stood by the door.
Rose watched her walk into the room happily with some food and water on a tray, she could tell the girl was around 11-12years of age.
“I hope you will like it, it really tastes nice. Learned how to make almost all American food on the food channel, and on the menu today; American lite fried rice!” said the girl as she placed the food next to Rose’s bag then pulled the table towards the bed, “Time to eat!”
“What’s your name?” asked Rose.
“Hadiza! Hadiza Miqdad Abdul-Basit!” answered the girl, “What’s yours?”
“I am Rose, Rose Green!” she replied.
“What brought you here? Do you work with UNICEF too?” Hadiza inquired.
“No, I am just a tourist! Why did you say that?” answered Rose.
“Because most of the foreigners I know of work with UNICEF!” said the girl.
“No, I don’t work with UNICEF, I am on vacation!” Rose responded.
“Okay! I would like to go to America too but not as a tourist. I wanna go study there someday, maybe Oxford University?” said Hadiza.
“That’s in England Habiza, not America!” said Rose.
“It’s Hadiza; H-A-D-I-Z-A! Get it?” she uttered.
“Got it!” replied Rose laughing, “Could you please help me pass my bag?”
“Sure! Here!” she replied as she handed the bag.
Rose collected the bag, unzipped it and stared into it, then smiled at Hadiza.
“Everything is there. Well, everything that was in the bag when uncle Junaid brought you home…even your small gun!” said Hadiza as she stood up and opened the window to let the fresh air in.
“How long have I been here?” Rose asked.
“Ever since you got here!” answered Hadiza as the two burst out laughing.
“Ouch!” Rose cried out as she felt pain from her leg.
“Oh my God, take it easy! Sorry!” said Hadiza.
“Thank you!” Rose responded smiling as she sighed, “Did your uncle tell you how we met?”
“Hmm! Uncle Junaid doesn’t talk much. Well, he did say you are his friend though and that you need a place to stay until your leg gets healed.” Hadiza answered.
“For how long has your uncle been working at the hospital?” Rose asked.
“You are his friend, how come you don’t know that?” Hadiza asked, “Besides, you resemble Fatimah so I guess uncle will not hide anything from you!” Hadiza joked.
“Well, you know him…he’s not much of a talker, and who is Fatimah?” said Rose.
“Two years before his wife and daughter were killed,” answered Hadiza, “I believe he did tell you about them, right?”
“Right! Yes…he did,” said Rose, she stammered smiling as she picked the plate of rice from the table, fetched some with a fork and into her mouth, “Oh God, pepper!”
“Oh, I am so sorry…I didn’t know the spices are harsh!”
“I am only messing with you, I love it!” said Rose.
“Really? You do?” asked Hadiza.
“I super love it, you should teach me how to make this!” said Rose.
“Hmm, that’s like a lion asking a dog to teach it how to hunt for Zebras!” said Hadiza.
“Good one there!” Rose murmured with food in her mouth.
“Do you know why I spent my precious time to prepare this delicious meal for you?” asked Hadiza.
“No, why?” Rose inquired.
“Well, I have an assignment to submit on Monday and I’d really need your help!” she said smiling cunningly.
“If it is mathematics just count me out, I am bad with maths!” replied Rose.
“You’re bad with maths in a positive way or a negative way? Anyway it’s history class! I am to present a short spoken word about peace and I am afraid what I wrote might make the entire class laugh at me!” said Hadiza.
“Well, I think I might like your spoken word, I bet it’ll taste as good as your rice. Why don’t you just bring what you have written down and let’s see what we can do about it, huh?” said Rose, she groaned trying to adjust her position on the bed.
“Okay!” said Hadiza, “You’re gonna have to stay put!”
“So, what do you wanna be when you grow up?” Rose asked.
“Well, just one thing and one thing only; a doctor! I would’ve gone for something as complex as an astronaut but no!” Hadiza answered.
“A doctor, huh? Why? If I may ask!” Rose responded.
“So that I’d move to Palestine and save lives, especially the innocent children. I don’t like what I see on TV. Too much suffering.” said Hadiza.
“You sound like a good leader!” said Rose.
“No matter how many good leaders men have, they cannot solve the problems they created through greed and wickedness!” Hadiza replied.
“So, you think men cannot solve the problems the world is facing today?” Rose asked.
“I’m no fool, it’s obvious the world needs God now more than ever!” Hadiza responded.
“Do you believe in God?” Rose asked.
“Don’t you?” Hadiza responded looking into her eyes.
“Well, I used to, when I was much younger!” Rose replied.
“What happened? You lost your appetite for a better and peaceful world just like our leaders who turned their arsenals against their own people?” Hadiza smirked, “I do believe in God and I do pray every day! Actually I see prayer as a form of acceptance, you know; stretching one’s hands to receive what’s rightfully yours from the Father!”
“Have any of your prayers ever been answered and what kind of prayer do you pray?” Rose asked.
“Well, no one has ever prayed for what they never had. Often men pray for things they think they lack even though they already own them! And for your second question; the answer is world peace! I always pray for world peace!” she said.
A knock echoed through the house, Hadiza excused herself and left to check who it was. Rose quickly pulled out the pistol from her bag and checked it; the cartridge was missing, she checked the bag thoroughly but could not find it so she put the pistol back into the bag and held firm the fork.
Hadiza walked in smiling, behind her was the Janitor holding two shopping bags.
“Which one’s mine uncle Junaid?” asked Hadiza.
“Hadidi, which one among the two looks frosty?” he asked lifting the two bags up.
Hadiza seized the smallest of the bags on his right hand and left the room, “Oh my God finally, vanilla flavour? Now you are 100% my favourite uncle!” echoed Hadiza’s voice.
He kept the other bag on the table next to Rose’s bag, “How are you faring?” he asked.
“I am much better! Thanks!” she replied looking at him.
“I had to take the cartridge! As bad as the world seems, a man has got to keep the house safe for his niece! Sorry I had to do that!” he said looking at Rose, “I am Junaid Abdul-Basit, I believe Hadiza has let the water in the dam flood your ears by now!”
“What?” she responded.
“I mean; she talks too much so I guess she must’ve told you where you are and who brought you here?” he said smiling.
“Just a little, she is a smart girl! Too intelligent for her age! I am Rose by the way, Rose Green. I am here on vacation.” she said.
They both stared at each other for a while.
“Thank you for, um, for saving my life back there!” said Rose, “I really don’t know how to uh…”
“You’re welcome!” he interrupted, “Oh and by the way, the one who treated your leg is a female; an old woman, actually an aunt from my mother’s side. She and Hadiza joined hands to dress your leg, I was outside the whole time.” said Junaid, “Nobody knows you’re here except the people I trust; my aunt and of course the almighty big-mouthed niece Hadiza.”
“It’s okay! I really appreciate it,” added Rose, “So um, your niece told me you work at the hospital for a while now?”
“Yes, four years now!” he answered.
“Your niece, she uh, also told me about your wife and daughter! Sorry for your great loss!” she said sympathetically.
Junaid stared at Rose for a while, “They are in a better place now.” he said.
Rose felt a bit on the edge.
“I could get you a phone to call your relatives or the embassy but I don’t think that’ll be a good idea for now!” he advised.
“I don’t understand.” said Rose.
“You’re all over the news, both local and international.” added Junaid as he picked the newspaper next to her feet and handed it to her. On receiving it she saw her face on the front page with some shots from a CCTV camera taken from the hospital the day she went to visit Doctor Abbas Hassan, the newspaper was written in Arabic.
“What does it say?” she asked.
“Headlines: American suicide bomber killed Doctor Abbas Hassan and thirty five others in Thursday’s deadly attack!” read Junaid.
“I don’t get it!” said Rose.
“Let me read the full story for you out loud!” said Junaid as he took hold of the newspaper, “An American woman Janice Carpenters, code-named Rose Green, who is also suspected to be a double agent with the help of some men believed to be locals launched an attack on Thursday 19th May 2016 at the Abbas-Hass Private Hospital. Doctor Abbas Hassan, is believed to be the primary target of this deadly attack. However, the American government denied any connection with the suicide bomber, the secretary of state stated that Rose Green is a wanted fugitive. The attack cost the lives of thirty five nationals, many others were also injured. Would you like me to continue?” asked Junaid.
“No. Thank you!” she retorted.
“It’s all over the news; you’re a celebrity now. They showed you holding a bag with what they believe were explosives.” he said.
“You don’t believe that, do you?” she asked.
“I am still alive and looking at the bag, am I not?” he chuckled.
“I need to make an important phone call!” she said.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea! I wouldn’t want some thug in camouflage uniform come crashing through the doors of my house, looking for you,” said Junaid, “My home has seen enough of the American contempt, insults and abuse!”
“I am only going to call a trusted colleague! Please!” she beseeched.
Junaid stared at her with such distrust before agreeing to hand her a cell phone. As she was about to dial he told her to wait; he pulled out a match box from his pocket and from it he picked a SIM Card, inserted it into the phone, restarted and gave it back to her.
“Thank you!” she said.
Rose dialled a number but nobody picked, Junaid stood there watching carefully with a straight face, his eyes set on his wrist watch. Seconds later after numerous attempts, she dialled a different number and someone picked.
“Hello” answered a voice over the phone.
“Enlighten me!” said Rose.
“RG? Oh thank God you’re alive! We got worried about you. The director felt that you got caught by the Ghazis so he ordered we pull the plug! We didn’t see it coming; no one knew they planned to attack the hospital that day too. There was a sketchy Intel on the attack but the agency didn’t think it was a serious threat, the director felt it wasn’t real and so we overlooked it. I am so sorry!” responded the voice over the phone.
“Pull the plug on me? Is this some kind of a joke?” asked Rose.
“What’s your 20?” asked the voice over the phone.
“So they went all Hiroshima on me?” asked Rose.
“It’s not like that RG”, responded the voice over the phone, “An opportunity the agency couldn’t afford to miss came up just minutes before you stepped into that hospital; we got Intel from a very reliable source that Suleiman Zaim Waqar the successor of Ahmed Al Tufail along with many others on the list made a decision that same morning to kidnap Doctor Abbas Hassan. Plus, the doc knows too much and the director was afraid that he’d crack so the best thing was to…”
“Take’m all out at once?” asked Rose.
“Yes!” came the reply.
“Knowing full well I was there also?” asked Rose, “You’d have just warned me!”
“I am very sorry RG, it was our only hope of cleaning the closet and nailing those bastards!” came the respond.
“You then decide I wasn’t useful anymore?” Rose interjected.
“Did you take him out?” inquired the voice over the phone.
“I asked you a question, damn it! I deserve an answer.” said Rose.
“Did you take him out?”
“Who?” asked Rose looking at Junaid.
“Affirm!” she answered reluctantly.
“Job well-done RG! That’s good, the director is here, he wants to have a word with you!”
Rose went cold and hung up the call then handed the cell phone to Junaid; he switched it off, removed the SIM Card and used a lighter from his pocket to burn it.