“Hi, do you speak English?” said the white slim lady to the nurse at the reception.
“No, I did not go to Harvard because I am an Arab woman whose parents are low income earners!” answered the nurse.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way!” responded the white lady.
“Maybe an identification and a ‘please’ added to your question would make your approach benign, don’t you think?” said the female nurse with a straight face staring straight into her eyes.
“I am Rose Green, please I am here to see Doctor Abbas Hassan?” she replied smiling, a bit embarrassed by her first approach.
“Now that, my sister is called courtesy. Our parents spend most of their precious time teaching us these things here!” remarked the nurse. She dragged a desk phone on the counter and picked the headset, dialled a number and spoke in Arabic mentioning Rose Green to the person she called then hung up, “Fifth floor, second office on your left!”
“Thank you!” said Rose, she looked up the clock hanging on the wall behind the nurse as she walked away.
“You’re welcome, Rose Green!” responded the nurse.
“Excuse me?” said Rose as she turned.
“ána úhibbu fustaanuk!” replied the nurse complimenting Rose’s dress.
“Whatever!” she murmured.
Rose got into the lift and hit the button to the fifth floor, before the doors went shut, a janitor rushed in and blocked the doors, then walked in with a yellow 24L cleaning mop Bucket whistling the song he was listening to. She watched him press the button to the fourth floor.
“Hi!” he said with his headphones banging.
“Hi” replied Rose with a smile as she leaned her ears close to the headphone.
“Aisha! Beautiful song. I enjoyed it as a little girl back in the 90’s.” she said.
“What!?” asked the Janitor as he pulled off his headphones?
“I said, the song, Aisha, I love it!” she answered.
“Oh wow, you speak French too?” he asked.
“Naa!” she exclaimed
“Naa?” he wondered.
The lift stopped on the second floor and the doors opened but no one entered, then closed again as it moved up.
“I mean no! Sorry about that, naa is a slang for no!” she said.
“I know that!” he replied.
“I used to watch the song on the telly back in the 90’s! Great guy!” said Rose to the Janitor.
“Honestly, it’s my all-time favourite song,” he said smiling in his Arab accent as he put back his headphones. They both smiled.
“Cheb somebody? I can’t really remember his last name and even though I did not understand the language somehow my heart had a strong connection to it back then, so deeply!” she added smiling.
“Yeah, it’s a beautiful song. My wife loved it so much. The Artist, his full name is Cheb Kha…” said the janitor aloud but got interrupted by the sound of an explosion that ripped the floor above them, the lift instantly went to a halt as power blackout hit the hospital. Rose screamed as another explosion rocked the building from a different direction shaking the lift violently. They both heard the cables break and as the car descended they both looked around for something to hold on to. The car came crashing down hitting the ground floor, sending Rose up in the air.
By the time Rose gained consciousness, water from the bucket was all over her.
“My leg, I can’t feel my leg!” she moaned as she looked around for the janitor but could not see anyone, she then heard the sound of gun shots being fired in the hospital with people screaming.
The lift was half-way open, she quickly began to search for her bag, after a while she spotted it and as she stretched her hand out to fetch it, someone came through holding an AK47. Rose panted heavily out of fear, the man raised his gun and aimed it at her, squeezed the trigger but realised he ran out of bullets.
“Ya khara!” he cursed as he pulled out another magazine, set it and cocked his gun then raised it again to shoot her but got hit behind the head with an object. As the man fell on Rose, his head landed on her forehead making her dizzy. She pushed the man’s body off of her and saw the janitor standing holding a fire extinguisher, instead of relief Rose got more terrified as she finally had a good look at his name tag.
“Come with me!” said the janitor, “They will show no mercy to the likes of you!” stretching his right hand towards her.
“I can’t move my leg!” Rose uttered in agony.
The janitor hurriedly rushed for a nearby bed under the rubble. He pushed the debris off the bed and dragged it to the lift, he got into the lift and with caution tried to help her up in order to place her on the bed. While Rose was struggling to stand on her feet, they heard some men fast approaching, the janitor then placed her back on the floor, gave her a gesture to stay mute and play dead as he picked the AK47 then walked away.
While Rose played dead, she overheard him converse with two other men in Arabic, her head got so light she passed out.