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Friday, November 17, 2017

Beneath Her Feet by Author Umm Juwayriyah Part 1

“Surayah, get that boy off these floors! You know this is a hospital. You don’t know what germs growing ‘round here.”

“Ummi, he’s fine. Idris is big and healthy most of the times. You the sick one, let’s just focus on getting you well.”

“I ain’t got much time left, Surayah. This Lupus done wore me ragged. I can’t take much more.”

“Ummi, stop talking like that. You’re not Allah. This was just a little flare up. Enshallah, you’ll be okay and out of here just like all other times. You --”

“Surayah, listen girl, the sunnah is ---”

“I know the sunnah, Ummi. You ain’t gotta remind me. You done drilled it in my head all my life,” she said as she shook her head. A tear rolled down her dark brown cheeks and dropped onto her shirt.

“Whenever Allah takes my soul, don’t let the sun set on my body for more than three days. Get my body in the ground. Call aunty Hafsa and uncle Dawud immediately. Pay off the little debt I got on that JCPennys card and …”

“Put you in the ground to be questioned by the angels. I know, Ummi! I know! You ain’t dead yet! Can we not do this every time you catch a cold?”

“Surayah,” I had to swallowed the assortment of curse words I was ready to dart her with. She was scared and I knew it. I had spoiled her bad. Born 10 years after my oldest, Kareem. I’d been so hard on him he grew right out from under me and went running for the hills. That knuckle head landed right in a jail cell before he was 25. He did ten years behind bars for a crime he committed and it broke me down and rattled my soul for years. Surayah don’t really know Kareem well. They like strangers really. But I raised and trained him to be a Muslim man the best I could. It’s in his veins: Allah, salah, Qu’ran, and the sunnah. He’d come ‘round if something happened to me. He’d protect Surayah and keep an eye on Idris for me 'cause her ex-husband don't do nothing but bring her trouble.

“You got Kareem’s number?” I asked my daughter as I hit the nurse call button. My chest felt so tight. It was still hard to breathe and my joints were so achy. It felt like if I turned the wrong way, I would split into two.

“Yeah. But I haven’t seen him in forever.”

“That ain’t from sunnah. Call your brother. Let him know his Umm ain’t well. Tell him I said be ready," I reminded her again.

The elderly nurse with the bad knee hobbled into the room, blonde pixie wig, beady black eyes, and tawny brown skin fell into the chair next to me smelling like Avon Skin So Soft in the winter. She was good peoples, but she needed to be in her own hospital bed. “You need something, Miss Patricia?”

“Yeah, I need some more them pain meds. My chest and my back hurting something bad. I’ll also take a strong, young husband and a new house, too. You got all that up in here, Miss Irish?”

Miss Irish slapped her thigh and giggled. “Dog, Miss Patricia! I didn’t know we was looking for the same remedies. If you find him first, we’ll have to split him up, girl!”

“Nah, not this time, I ain’t. I done did that a few times over. Wanted for the sisters, but they ain’t want for me nothing back. Both with Kareem and Surayah’s fathers - I shared them and everything I had. They left me with all the bills and tears and these kids to raise. Too old and too close to death for that mess.”

“Wasn’t Kareem’s father in that band you used to sing with, Ummi? What was the name of that group you used to sing with?” Surayah asked me.

“Yeah, that was before Islam. Karl - Khaleel, played bass and I sung background for the Blue Notes.”

“Miss Patricia, no you didn’t sing with the Blue Notes. After all these years I've been knowing you and you didn’t tell me. Blue Notes was one of my favorite jazz groups back in the ‘70’s. Lonnie Jackson and the Blue Notes. Ya'll had that song Mellow Time. Ain’t that right?”

“Ummi you sang on that song!”

“I did. Long time ago, Surayrah! Before I knew who Allah was.”

“How that chorus went? Something like: Tears disappear, Crime lay down, Hate don’t live here no more…” Miss Irish began to sing.

Surayah picked the tune right up and harmonized with her, “Let - me - stand -  right - in - my mellow time - mellow time - dooo - dooo- dah -dah - la- dooo-dooo- dah la...”

Miss Irish, I’mma need you to go on now and get me some more meds. This ain’t the Soul Train room. I gotta take my meds, pray the Asr prayer and get on to sleep and rest these bones. Surayah, take Idris home. And make sure you feed my cats and call Kareem. Tell him I said be ready.”

“You one mean old lady,” Miss Irish teased as she struggled to pull herself up out of the chair. “I’ll go speak to Dr. Harris and see if you can have more meds. But you gonna have to sing me that song before you get discharged, Patricia Vaughn.”

“No, I will not. That ain’t my way no more. And you know good and well my name is Yasmeen Abdullah. Don’t play around and get my blood pressure up in here. That’s just one thing I don’t need to be bothered with.”

“Oh, chile, hush up! Ya momma named you Patricia and it’s on your charts! I’ll see you later, Surayah. Bye, Drisi-boo,” Miss Irish waved.

As the door closed, Idris dashed to the door. Surayah sprung up and chased the toddler down and grabbed him before he was able to exit. Surayah huffed as she picked her son up.

“See, that’s why I said he shouldn’t have been down there. You betta start listening to me, Surayah. Allah knows best, but I don’t feel like I got much time left. You gotta start listening and being responsible, ‘specially with my grandboy!

“Ummi, I wish you wouldn’t talk down to me like I’m some dummy! I am 25! I know a couple of things. I am managing. I’m praying. I’m still covered.”


“Really, Ummi, that’s not nice. I guess you tired though,” Surayah suggested as she packed her son’s diaper bag. “I'll come back through tomorrow after work, enshallah. Text me if need anything.”

“ Surayah, you alright? You looking tired yourself. You ain’t sick, are you? Don’t mess around and get Idris sick again. That boy get more ear infections than a little. Make sure you call Kareem.”

“I ain’t sick, Ummi!”

“Then what is it, Ray? What’s up with you?” I had to pull myself up in the hospital bed. If there was one thing that would get me out of this bed, Surayah was it. I loved that girl with all of me. “Nadir done did something again? What he do, Surayah? You know you can tell me anything?”

Surayah stopped moving to switch her son to the other side of her hip along with her weight on her plump frame. “I’m pregnant!”

That's it! This child done made my pressure shoot up. My chest. I can't breathe. Oh, Allah! Help me breathe! I am gonna kill Surayah if I make it through this. I really, really can't breathe.

"Nurse Irish! Nurse Irish, come quick! Ummi is choking!"

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