Copyright © Kate Kelsen 2020. All Rights Reserved
From the corner of the room, Omid stood with his arms crossed, his brow furrowed. Jasem sat on the edge of the examination bed across the way, and Ellen stood in front of him.
‘So you’re Caroline’s neighbor?’ Ellen enquired.
‘Yes,’ Omid replied.
‘What treatment has Jasem received in the past?’
‘He sees a physiotherapist once a fortnight. He does exercises and movements with him.’
‘They’re so painful,’ Jasem protested.
‘I watch on, and I feel like I want to stop it because of what was happening to him, but I can’t because I know there is some benefit for Jasem. But the fact that he is being hurt in the process is very distressing.’ Omid tilted his head, looking at Ellen. ‘So I don’t quite know what to expect from you,’ he stated with brutal honesty. ‘In my eyes you’re just another one of them.’
Ellen nodded thoughtfully.
‘I’ll get started.’ She turned back to Jasem, taking his hand and looking at him. Jasem felt the gentleness in her presence
‘I’m not going to hurt you, Jasem,’ she said gently.
She then proceeded to guided his left arm out from his body, and started doing gentle massage movements on it. She moved onto his upper back and neck, all the while explaining to him and Omid what she was doing. All of a sudden, Jasem shook all over, his eyes wide open.
‘What is happening?’ Omid exclaimed, alarmed.
‘I don’t know,’ Ellen stammered.
Omid and Ellen watched on as Jasem opened his arms up and held his hands out on his own, like a flower unfurling.
‘Are you seeing this?’ Omid gasped.
‘Yes!’ Ellen replied.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this before.’
‘I don’t get to see that kind of reaction in someone straight away during treatments,’ said Ellen. ‘It is quite extraordinary.’
Later that year
The loud murmur of chatter hovered over the guests in the school auditorium. The graduating students sat in the rows of chairs in front of the stage, and Omid spotted Jasem amongst them as he found his seat.
The principal opened the ceremony by reflecting on the achievements of the graduating class, and then proceeded to call upon each student to come up to the stage to collect their high school diplomas.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, before I call our next graduate, I would like to take a moment to reflect and share a little more about this extraordinary young man. Jasem Bahar came to us six years ago, having emigrated all the way from Israel. Over the past six years, I have watched this young man transform from a nervous little boy to a confident young man. Jasem graduates tonight as Top of the Class, Dux of the school, and also taking out the award for academic excellence. Today, as I see him graduate, I feel like a proud father, as proud as Jasem’s father, who is here with us tonight. Please put your hands together for Jasem Bahar.’
Omid clapped and cheered, tears streaming down his cheeks as Jasem extended his left arm out to shake the principal’s hand. After the completion of the ceremony, he found his son, his smile as wide as her jaw.
‘How do you feel?’ he enquired.
‘I can’t believe it,’ Jasem breathed.
‘You’ve worked so hard. I am so proud of you, son. What a brave young man you are.’ Jasem could see the glimmer of tears in his father’s eyes, and a hint of sadness. ‘I’m sorry your mother couldn’t be here today, Jasem. I know she would be so proud.’
It was the first time either Jasem had been back to JFK Airport since they had arrived in America six years earlier. This time, his father would not be traveling with him. It was the first time he had gone anywhere on his own. First, he had left his mother back in Israel, and now he was leaving his father in New York.
The two rode the escalator up to Jasem’s departure gate. There, Jasem turned to face Omid.
‘The time will fly by. I’ll be home at the end of the year.’ Jasem and Omid stepped forward and embraced each other. ‘I love you, Papa.’
‘I love you too, son.’ They stepped back, and Jasem could see the tears that Omid was fiercely holding back glistening in his eyes. ‘You’ll be fine.’
Jasem turned and joined the queue to board, waving back at his father one last time before he followed the other passengers onto the plane.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for another excerpt tomorrow!