Mahtab's blended family and danger from her past
| After several weeks, Mahtab's children were refreshed and had already begun catching up with their peers. They all had to have tutors since they had started school so late. Dr. Azadi saw they were all clever though none had ever been to school. He also made sure they were well physically, that they ate nutritiously, excercised and went to bed early. They settled down to be a big, happy family. Three months after their reunion, Mahtab announced that she was pregnant with Dr. Azadi's child. Upon further investigation, she found out she was having twins, one boy and one girl.
Dr. Azadi worried for Mahtab's health. All the excitement of marriage and reunion and now pregnancy. Dr. Azadi requested that she stay at home and not go out late at night to send food to the poor by herself, but she told him she would never forget how hungry and tired she felt and how those children must feel. One night as Mahtab was handing out food to the poor, she found her brother-in-law's wife among them. She cried when telling Mahtab how her husband, after getting the money, had bought a small house, and instead of using the money for good purposes, he would bring women to his house, and drink and gamble until he had no more money. The brother-in-law had to sell his house and go back to the slum to live. Now he was even more unbearable than before, and they didn't have money for food. Mahtab reluctantly gave her money for food, bearing in mind the saying to give with your right hand so as to not let your left hand know who you were giving to. Mahtab promised to bring her more supplies the next night. But when Mahtab showed up secretly without her husband knowing she had gone out, the brother-in-law was waiting for her, drunk and lustful." My Mahtab, you missed me. Your doctor friend made you pregnant and now he doesn't want you. He started fondling Mahtab, but she pulled away and ran at the cost of her health.
She ran into the gates of home and came in through the back door. She was breathless, but she decided to go to Emir and tell him what had happened. He was upset with her for going out without his consent, but he was more concerned for the unborn babies even more. He took her to his hospital and put her on bed rest until the babies were to be born. When the time care for the babies to be born, Mahtab did not have enough strength to bear them naturally, so Dr. Azadi ordered the babies to be delivered by Caesarean. He was by her side every moment. First the boy was pulled out, and everyone was astonished that the boy clung to his sister's hand as she was pulled out of the womb too. The babies were successfully born, separated and cleaned. Dr. Azadi kissed Mahtab on the forehead and went to pray, "Dear God, you have given me more than I deserve. I am humbled before you. May my children and Mahtab's children be a light to your goodness." He wondered what to name the children. He thought of Allah's ninety-nine names and chose Shaffa as the boy's name hoping that the child could heal his mother's heart and Sabeera for the girl's name because we all must wait for God's goodness.
He took food to the slums to feed the poor. He was humbled. He called Naseer to help him track down the brother-in-law to remind him of the contract in which he was not to contact or harass Mahtab or Azadi's family in any way. But for now the doctor did not want to think any more about the despicable man. He had to focus his attention and energies on his new and blended family.
As the twins grew, so did the love of Mahtab's first three children with the twins and their father. A year later, the older children were excelling in school, the younger ones were learning and developing, and Mahtab felt overflowing with God's graciousness that she felt she could never repay the favor. She opened a school for poor, illiterate women and taught them skills to help them earn a living. She volunteered in charities, and she was named one of the outstanding women pioneers in her city. In all of her activities, she always put her family first. She kept her children near her, and often took them to activities. It was at one of these activities when Iman and Rahman were busy with the twins, that Malekah wondered away from her brothers to get some refreshments on the table that was near the door. With so many people and so much commotion, hardly anyone noticed when a fat, greasy looking man came abruptly through the door and yanked Malekah away from the crowd. She didn't even have a chance to shout out. He immediately tied up her mouth and hands and feet and placed her in a box which he placed in the trunk of a stolen car. He revved up the car and started off, satisfied with his success. A few minutes later, Iman and Rahman were looking for their sister in all corners of the building, but had no choice but to report to Mahtab that Malekah was no where to be found. Mahtab's heart nearly stopped. She placed the twins in the hands of their aunts, called Naseer and Dr. Azadi, and immediately asked the crowd if they had seen where Malekah had gone. All they found was a fork and plate on the floor. Naseer and his men rushed over. The fingerprinted the scene and questioned to find witnesses. Mahtab was frantic, and Dr. Azadi, who had also rushed to the scene, was trying to calm her.
"Why are they taking so long? We have to find her!"
"Mahtab, let the police do their work."
Naseer had discovered that there was a car reported missing just minutes before Malekah was reported missing. He knew they had to be connected, so he put out a search for the missing car, a run down beige Toyota with a Balgh license plate. With Naseer's quick thinking he thought the best place a person would go quickly if they had kidnapped a person would be to the caves of the nearby Paghman mountains. They would dispatch their officers to all nearby mountains and close off roads leading out of the city. After Naseer got all of his men stationed, he proceeded to his vehicle. Dr. Azadi insisted he go. Naseer tried to persuade him to stay with Mahtab, but Dr. Azadi told Naseer he promised to get Malekah back. If he stayed, he would lose his honor. So Naseer let him sit in the passenger's seat with Naseer's partner in the back. They drove up the east entrance of the chain of mountains just outside the city. It was mid afternoon and life had been stifled by the heat and by the fear of the unknown. It had not rained in months and the roads did not show if anyone had been up them recently, for the wind blew dust to wipe away any recent clues. Naseer thought, dust. The roads are dust, the mountains are dust, we are dust. We come from dust and to dust we return. But he would not ponder too much on this subject. This was a time to be focused on what would the criminal do. Although there could be a wide range of suspects, he had a deep gut feeling it was Mahtab's brother-in-law, the greedy bastard. He swore inwardly that he would blow a big hole through that man's head if he hurt a hair of the child's head.
It was approaching sundown as they were nearing the peaks of the mountains where the caves were. There, suddenly in the distance, they saw the camouflaged flash of a car near the mouth of one of the caves. The approached cautiously to not let the criminal know that the police were on their way. Naseer radioed to the other police to be cautious. They parked the car at the base of the curve that led to the declining cave. Naseer and his partner went first with Dr. Azadi behind them. There was no one in the car. "They must be in the cave," whispered Naseer. He told his partner to go around to the left of the cave and he would go around to the right of the cave, and he instructed Dr. Azadi to stay put. The policemen had their guns out ready to fire. Suddenly a figure sat up from the front seat of the car and fired at Naseer. Naseer took cover and the other policemen began firing from the back of the car, but he missed.
The car quickly made its way up the dusty path. The doctor noticed that the window was down. If he thrust his hand in quickly, he could steer the car into the rocks, but if he wasn't successful, he could be shot. He decided to try and ran towards the inclination where the car was coming. Ahardaj did not notice that Dr. Azadi was coming from the side because his eyes were on the police, so the doctor thrust his hand and grabbed hold of the steering wheel. He had underestimated the speed of the car and now was being dragged with the car towards the rocks. He let go of the steering wheel and his other hand got caught in the back wheels as the car ran into the rocks. Immense pain and dust in his eyes, nose and mouth. His plan had succeeded and the driver was trying to get out as the police rushed toward him, but the doctor knew something was wrong. He couldn't move his right hand. And pain shot up and down his arm. His friend rushed toward him and the other officer arrested the brother in law and handcuffed him.
"Naseer, find the girl. Don't worry about me!"
"But you are hurt."
" I will live. Just find Malekah."
With Emir's pleas, Naseer went towards the trunk of the car. The girl was there, unharmed, but frightened, gasping for breath and for water as Naseer untied her bandages. Naseer knew the ambulance would be too slow. He put the girl in the front seat of the police car and came back to pick up Emir and lay him in the back seat. He instructed the officer not to move and wait for the back up which would be there at any moment. He quickly got in the police car and drove straight to the nearest hospital.
Dr. Azadi's hand had been crushed beyond repair. He had been transferred to the best hospital in the country, but despite a few surgeries, he would never be able to use his hand again. But the hand was not the worse of his injuries. A few days after Malekah's rescue and after the surgeries, the doctor acquired septicemia which seemed resistant to most of the antibiotics being pumped into his wasting body. He was in a coma for over a month.
Now Mahtab was on her own to make the decisions of the family. Despite help from Dr. Azadi's friends, she had to sell her jewelry and valuable items of the house. She had to dismiss her housekeepers and cooks. She could do the work. She had been used to hard work in her life. Now her resources were reduced to the car and the house, the former which she sold first. She visited Emir everyday, many times with all the children by her side, sometimes she left them at home, so she could cry by Emir's bedside, hoping he would wake from his coma. She prayed without ceasing. Once she was tempted to be angry with God, but she remembered God's kindness to her all these years. She had to be strong and had to keep her faith. After a month, she was told that Emir's condition had improved. He was now in and out of stupor, and there was hope. But it would be a long road to recovery.
At last Mahtab had to make a decision to sell the house. She decided she would sell the house and move to a smaller one. She would work if necessary. The boys could work too and Malekah could stay at home with the twins. She was sorry to sell the house, but she didn't know what the future held. At least she would still have a house even if smaller. As long as she and her children were healthy, they would get by. She sold the house and settled into a smaller one. The next day she was met with a surprise at the hospital. Emir had been awake for a few minutes and had asked for her. The nurses told him that Mahtab came to visit everyday and would be there shortly. When Mahtab heard this, she began to sob with happiness. Her husband flickered his eyes and tilted his head towards her.
"Mahtab? Why are you crying?"
"Oh Emir. You almost died. I had to sell everything and sell the house."
" And the children? Are they alright?"
"Yes, we are all well. We just want you to be well and come home, inshallah."
"Inshallah. My hand. I can never perform surgery again. How can I give you the life you deserve?"
"Agha, don't worry. We just need you to be healthy. I can work. If you are well, you can teach. With God's help, we can make it."
"Yes, you are right Mahtab. With God's help, we can make it."
He opened up his arms for her. She rested her head against his beating heart.
"Yes, she thought. This is how love is meant to be. God is great and we should wait patiently for His kindness."