The death of a project of a good citizen – Short Story by Rachid Khouya

Once upon a time, there was a boy who dreamed of being a doctor. Since his early childhood, he imagined himself as a good doctor who takes care of the sick, helps the old, listens to the patients, gives them love, cures their illnesses, and lessens their suffering and pain while standing and sitting beside them at night to erase their feeling of loneliness.

Day after day and night after night, the dream grew bigger and bigger. As he progressed in his studies, the boy felt his dream getting nearer and nearer. The more he succeeded, the more motivated he was and the more he worked to make his dream achievable and real. Then something very unexpected happened.

One day, his mother got sick. She could not talk or move and she could not open her mouth. Her eyes were focused on his face and on the faces of the neighbors. They moved from everyone’s face to the other as if she was watching them for the last time.

They took her to the hospital where she was put on a very old and dirty bed. Nobody took care of her and nobody paid attention to her presence because the doctors and the nurses served only those who gave them money.

The general rule inside the hospital was that the doctors serve only those who give them money and the more money you gave, the more attention you would receive. This was the motto for the hospital.

The doctors could not tell the people directly and frankly about their intentions, but they sent some nurses to the young man and asked him to give a sum of money to the doctor if he wanted him to take care of his mother.

A skinny nurse told the young man, “You have to understand that the situation of your mother is very critical. She is between the brackets of death and life. If she doesn’t get the necessary care and help soon, I will be sorry to tell you that you will take her to the cemetery and you will never see or hug your mother again.”

The nurse took a few minutes of silence and then went on telling the young man: “What are you going to do with your money if you lose your mother? Please, for the sake of your mother, give a little sum for this doctor. He will treat her as his mother. That’s what he does.”

“Remember, your mother is between life and death….save her…if I were you, I would not hesitate to give everything I have to save my mother…I have told you how things go inside this hospital and you are the one who will make the last decision, you.”

Without finishing his sentence, he left the room leaving the young man to think alone about his situation. The problem was that he had no money. What the nurse hadn’t known was that the young man and his mother were miserably poor. They had no money and nothing at all. His mother was all what he had. She spent her life working on a farm to help him and to care for him and his studies.

The young man sat near the head of his mother. He put her head on his knees because they didn’t bring a pillow with them. He cried and prayed for God to help his mother. He had nothing but God and prayers.

After nearly an hour, the nurse came and asked the young man to leave the room so they could check on his mother. When he asked him about the doctor, the nurse murmured in his ear, “The doctor is in his room watching a football match. He is enjoying the game while patients are dying.”

As the young man was waiting outside the hospital, the nurse hurried to him. He hugged him and asked him to be a true believer because this is life .He told him that his mother had left this world and that her soul had left her body too. “She died”, he said.” Yes, she died”, he repeated.

Surprised by the news, the young man screamed and his mind left his head. The shock was strong. He lost his consciousness, as if he heard good news, he started to sing loudly. He started singing a song he had learned when he had been a little boy:

Oh you the flying eagle,

Be sure, I would never love

Those who hate and kill my mother.

The young man took off his clothes and threw off his shoes as well. He left the hospital completely naked, with a naked head and with a naked heart. He ran in streets singing that old “Berber song” he used to hear from his mother before they went to bed.

A crowd of people gathered around him asking what happened for ‘Iwis n mas’, which mean in Tamazight language, ‘ the son of his mother”. An old man looked at the crowd and said:

“He wanted to be a doctor to help the people. But, unfortunately, the doctor killed his mother and ruined his head. He killed the dream inside him and inside the village. He was a project of good citizen. Why do they kill citizenship inside our projects? Then the crowd began drilling that question: “Why do they kill citizenship inside our projects?”…. “Why do they kill citizenship inside our projects?”… “Why do they kill citizenship inside our projects?”