Bata (The blessing)

— Алақаныңды жай, балам, ақ батамды берейін!  («Give me your hands, my child, I want to bless you!») a voice called out, rousing him from his sleep. But he couldn’t jump out of bed to perform his usual morning routine. His body felt numb and unresponsive. Sitting across from him was his mother, wearing a white headscarf, her face filled with concentration as she recited prayers. She slowly ran her hands over his face and then suddenly disappeared. All he managed to whisper was «Amen.»

Could this all just be a dream? The unexpected appearance of a deceased loved one with a blessing had left him restless, causing him to reflect on the events of the previous day. «What is happening to me? She was here for a reason,» he asked himself, but found no answers.

He felt a terrible pain in his chest. «Oh Allah, what torment is this? My mouth feels so dry. Perhaps I had too much to drink,» he thought, trying to explain the lack of memories from the previous day and the blurred lines between dream and reality. It took immense effort to lift his heavy eyelids. He was met with an unfamiliar setting: white walls and beeping machines. «So, this must be a hospital room,» he finally realized. «Well, well! How much did I have to drink for them to be administering so many IV drips to get me out of my alcoholic state?» he continued to ponder.

«Hey! Someone take this tube out of my mouth!» he muttered.

«He’s awake! Dad, lie down, I’ll call the doctor!» his daughter exclaimed.

Only now did he notice his daughter, who rushed out of the room and returned seconds later with a doctor, a young man wearing glasses. The tears in his daughter’s eyes and her exhausted appearance heightened his concern. «What could have happened? It seems much more serious than I imagined,» he wondered, still unable to remember anything.

The doctor approached closely, looked into his eyes, smiled, and said something in German. From all the words, except for his own surname, he only made out the word «herr.» «Well, it seems my condition is quite bad,» he concluded, understanding from what he heard. Nodding understandingly at the doctor, he now believed that his wife’s warnings about white fever were being confirmed. He looked around, «By the way, where is she? Why isn’t she here with me?» he questioned, looking at his daughter. Holding his hand, she smiled through tears.

  • My darling girl, why are you crying? I’m sorry for making you suffer. Everything will be alright, just don’t cry, my sweet. I will get up now, and we will go home,» he wanted to calm his daughter.
  • Daddy! Don’t talk! You mustn’t worry, you need to conserve your strength. The doctor said that in a few hours, they will remove the tube. You were connected to a ventilator. The worst is behind us.

He couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to him. He and his daughter always understood each other with just a glance. She moved a chair closer to the bed, sat down, and once again, gently holding his hand, she looked at him with tears streaming down her pale cheeks. «You look so much like your grandmother, I just saw her,» he thought, looking at his daughter.

«Dad, the doctors warned that you might not remember everything right away. We are in Germany. You underwent a complex heart surgery and were in a coma for two weeks. Dad, our local doctors said that if this had happened in our country, they wouldn’t have been able to intervene as quickly and save you. The heart attack happened right here, where the best medicine in the world is.

You never liked traveling abroad, but this time you were so excited. You explained that you wanted to see the places of your youth, where you once served in the army. And do you remember how you called and asked about how much money to take with you, how to connect to international phone service? Mom and I were amazed at your thorough preparation. You were getting ready as if for an important meeting or your birthday. And that’s exactly what happened. You were reborn here.

«So that’s why you came to me,» a gentle wave of warmth washed over him as he remembered his mother. «That’s the power of a mother’s love, even from the other side, able to breathe life into a dying body.» His eyes filled with tears of love and gratitude.

He began to remember something —  the planned trip in December to several cities in Germany. And how after arriving at the hotel, he felt a sharp pain in his heart. It was difficult for him to breathe, and his colleagues called an ambulance, which brought him to the hospital, where it was determined that immediate surgery was needed.

His daughter continued, «You were reluctant for a long time, asking for painkillers and to be allowed to go home. If it was destined for you to die, then let it happen in your homeland,» you insisted. And when you found out how much it would all cost, you even tried to run away. Dad, it sounds so much like you,» she laughed. When you lost consciousness, the doctors had no choice but to operate. Since I had a valid visa, I flew out the same evening. Mom is already on her way. Don’t worry about the payment, Dad! The insurance company will cover part of the expenses, colleagues helped, and the rest was collected by close relatives and friends. You did so much good for people, and it came back to you a hundredfold. And all this happened during the pre-New Year days. How can you not believe in miracles after that!» her eyes sparkled. «You’re so grown up, and yet you still believe in the New Year miracle,» he looked at his daughter with affection, his «little daddy’s girl.»

At that moment, the doctor, who had stepped out, came back into the room.

«Dad, the doctor wishes you a Merry Christmas! He’s not surprised that you regained consciousness today, as extraordinary things happen on such days,» she added, catching her father’s smirk.

«I can guess how you would have answered him,» she continued. «I explained that you are a Muslim and you are not supposed to believe in Christmas miracles. And do you know what he said? During the operation, they transfused a large amount of different blood types to you, so you are already a Christian to some extent and now you simply have to believe in the Christmas miracle.»

He involuntarily smiled at the response and sincerely thanked his earthly savior with his gaze. Each of them believed in their own miracle: he — in a mother’s blessing, his daughter — in the New Year’s miracle, and the doctor — in the Christmas miracle.

Author of the story: Qalamqas Toleumbekqyzy