‘Daddy, my back is so sore… please hold my hand, and do not go anywhere!’ – demanded little Mo. ‘I am staying here, right here with you son’ answered Faisal fondly and smiled. They conversed in their native Farsi, and although Mo’s nurse couldn’t understand a word of the son – father interaction, she was touched seeing the paternal love that Faisal showed to his son. She approached Mo’s bed, adjusted tubes of his drip and handed him a teddy bear. ‘This is a little friend for you, and he will guard at night, when you sleep’ she said in English. Faisal thanked the nurse and explained to his son what the nurse had just tried to tell him. Mo’s eyes lightened up. He took his soft toy into his arms, looked at the woman and timidly murmured: ‘tashakor’ (thank you). ‘You are very welcome dear’ answered the nurse without waiting for his father’s interpretation. She left the room, and Faisal was again alone with his son. Mo was becoming tired, but the medicines made him feel less pain. He was falling asleep.
Faisal was exhausted but moved, and very happy. A while earlier, he spoke to the doctors, and they told him that the operation of his son had been very successful. It was likely that Mo would suffer from some nuisances throughout his life – he might not be able to regain control of his physiological needs, and he will always need to use nappies, but he will live, and he will be able to walk! Faisal looked out of the window, looked at busy streets of New York, and for a first time, he properly realised that he actually was thousands of kilometres away from home, away from his wife, and other children. They arrived from Afghanistan to the United States just mere two weeks earlier. They came here on invitation of one of the USA’s medical organisations, which helps running a paediatric ward at the Indira Ghandi Hospital of Kabul. It was where a group of American doctors met Mo and Faisal, and this is where, after initial examinations; they offered Mo’s family that he could be taken to New York for a highly specialised spine surgery.
‘You can’t even imagine, what I was going through with Mo, before we finally went to the USA’ – Faisal continued telling his story at Kacper’s hotel room in Islamabad. ‘It was all so strange… before Mo was born; I nearly hadn’t noticed that I was a father to four kids. They were all healthy, and my wife looked after them most of the time, while I was busy supporting the family financially…’ Faisal stopped and sipped his tea. He then explained that one day Mo started crying and he would simply not stop. At first, the parents thought that perhaps, their baby’s teeth started growing, but then realised that their son was simply unwell. They visited many doctors all over Kabul, however no one could really find out what the reason of constant crying was. Mo in the meanwhile was getting worse. Soon, the horrified parents realised that their little one was getting paralysed.
Faisal and his son eventually ended up in one the capital’s hospitals, whose doctors mainly came from France. After initial investigations, they advised that Faisal should arrange for his son to undergo more advanced check-ups in Pakistan’s capital – Islamabad. Luckily, compared with many other Afghans, Faisal was relatively well off, and he actually had means to travel to the neighbouring country, and pay for necessary medical procedures. Faisal and Mo soon set off to Islamabad, where they stayed with Faisal’s Pakistani friend’s family, who looked after them, and helped them enormously by driving them around the city. The investigations were completed in just a few days, and Faisal and Mo were on their way back to Kabul soon after.
Faisal handed a big brown envelope with results of his son’s investigations to the doctor. After a while of studying, the doctor bluntly announced to Faisal that Mo’s spine was attacked by a tumour that grew on it. The tumour pressed some of his son nerves, which in turn started causing Mo’s lower parts of his body being paralysed. ‘At that point, I passed out’ recalled Faisal. ‘Kacper, this was like the end of the world to me… my hope vanished… How on earth was I to help my son? How could I help him in Afghanistan?’ – Faisal was still disturbed, when he talked of his experience.
The doctors advised that Faisal returned to Pakistan immediately, and that Mo’s tumour is removed at Islamabad’s hospital. ‘Unfortunately, we do not have facilities in Kabul to perform such a sophisticated surgery here… I am really sorry for this news’ added the doctor.
Two weeks later, Mo was operated in Pakistan, and the doctors declared the full success. The boy was barely stitched, but the doctors decided to sign him off from hospital. ‘You can now go back to Afghanistan – the sooner the better!’ – instructed the Pakistani doctor.
The journey home turned out to be long, difficult and tiresome. They travelled in a rented car. Mo was having a very high fever, and Faisal was very worried, as his wound was bleeding a lot – more than Faisal expected to be reasonable. When they reached Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Faisal discovered that American troops involved themselves in some heavy fighting with the Talebans, and the road home was impassable. Somehow desperate, and extremely worried about Mo’s high fever, Faisal and the driver decided to reach Kabul using an alternative route, leading through small villages, and extremely uncomfortable and dangerous hills. They reached Kabul hours later. Little Mo was already unconscious. ‘I was convinced, I was loosing him!’ – Faisal was extremely distressed. ‘We went straight to the Indira Ghandi hospital… I handed Mo to the doctor, and he was already motionless…I couldn’t stop crying’ – he went on.
The doctors discovered that the wound had reopened completely, and that Mo needed another operation really quickly to close it. They decided to perform it there, though they had little tools to do it properly. ‘Somehow, they managed to save my Mo…I was so relieved’ – carried on Faisal. ‘A few days later, the American doctors happened to arrive to the ward, where Mo was’, he smiled. ‘Everything went so quickly afterwards’ – he referred. ‘Ten days later, Mo and I were on our way to New York…’
Kacper looked at Faisal, rather proud of his friend. ‘You are an amazing father, and I am so happy you never gave up on Mo’ he remarked. ‘Mo will never forget you that…just like I will never forget my parents fighting for me, when I was a kid’ he added. Faisal got up from his chair. ‘I need to go back to my friend’s place to check on Mo… He is still so tired after the flight from New York’ he said. ‘I am quite tired too, and need to rest before we start travelling to Kabul again’ – he offered a good-bye hug to Kacper.
PS. Kacper is receiving news of multiple bomb attacks in various places in Pakistan