Friday, August 21, 2009

Somethings Just Cant be 2

Continuing on from my previous post...many years have passed since I experienced that emotional gut wrenching funeral of the "sleeping man" I did not know but that does not mean I don't think about it often...way too often in my opinion. *sigh* The whole thing is more like a dream now...but its never far from my thoughts.

As for my second story...I was 6 months pregnant with my 3rd child and we lived out in Hamad Town. The first few years we lived there it was fairly isolating and lonely simply because a lot of the houses were not lived in yet...and not having a phone or car didn't help much either. My neighbors at the time were a Syrian family in which there were two wives and numerous children. I would visit them from time to time as a neighborly type thing...when someone was sick or during Eid etc...but I didn't really understand their Arabic and so visiting was a stilted and confusing affair best left for now and thens. My oldest daughter would quite often accompany me (she was 4, or 6 or get the picture) and would do her best to translate. Something she has been doing for me her whole life when and if needed. Thanks daughter *smiles*.

The older, or first wife, had around 6 or 7 kids...I was never completely sure as they never seemed to be all in the same place at the same time. In the years I lived there she seemed to have a new baby every 2 years or so...and even after I left she had more as I seen the new additions years later when I happen to pass by. If I had to guess I would say she had around 15 kids all together...but that's only a guess...could have been more. (another post for another day would be how her posse of kids made my life a nightmare with their constant coming and going in MY house, taking my food, my kids toys, my sanity...and leaving destruction in their wake...lordy the memories)

The younger, second wife, was fairly new and only had one little boy at the time that we moved in....but within a year or so she had a little girl. This little girl was not destined to spend much time on earth...but I feel like her death was something that could have been avoided...she was sacrificed on the altar of ignorance and I cry still when I remember what happened to her.

Picture a house overrun with children. Everything from screaming toddlers to teens and everything in between. Every morning the front door would open and our neighborhood was besieged by this gang of tiny thugs...causing mayhem and destruction where ever they went. The youngest could be seen in the middle of the street..playing with broken toys...peeing or on occasion pooping...and always always seconds away from being just a memory in their mothers heart due to the number of cars that routinely dodged them as they came around the corner (this house was right on a scary curve in the road)....I'm constantly amazed that none of those kids ever died being hit by a car (that I know of)...I'm not saying there were never hits...they were...thankfully most people had slowed down enough to make the corner that those hits were not enough to do serious damage. It never taught the kids or the moms a lesson though about road safety *sigh*. ...anyhow...

The complete disregard for their children's safety was a burning point with me. I did not want to have to witness a serious injury or, God forbid, a death merely because those two mothers would prefer all the kids be outside out of the way while they did whatever they did. I don't want to minimize the blame to the father...but the guy was hardly ever around. In all the years I lived there I only seen him a handful of times. I always wondered if he had yet another family somewhere else with more kids and more ignored wives for the most part. Who knows? On several occasions my own husband would go over and talk with him about keeping his kids safe etc (ironic I know...asshole) and the guy would just throw up his hands in apparent defeat and say.."what can I do...the mothers don't want them in the house cause they make a mess".

Well here's a thought...don't have a tribe of kids if you cant handle them and if you believe treating them like animals to be let out every morning and brought back in every night for feeding is how to raise kids...then I declare you an unfit parent and shouldn't be allowed to have any....15 (?) kids later its a bit too late...but I only hope luck is on your side as to their safety...

it wasn't...

Anyhow, one morning life was going along humdrum as usual. I was cleaning my house and listening to my own kids playing in the next room when suddenly my husband burst into the kitchen to shout that their was trouble at the Syrian house and maybe I could go over and check it out...see if I could do anything. He had been outside fixing on a van when the first wife came to him and asked him to take a look at seconds wife's little girl. Something was wrong with her. He didn't feel comfortable going into their house without the husband around so told me to go see what was up.

Trying to guess what might be the problem was no good as many times in the past bandages, bandaids, panadol, iodine, gauze etc were all borrowed for the latest injury sustained. I was thinking maybe one of the other kids fell on her or dropped something on her and cut her...she was only 7 months old at the time and her siblings were very rough and themselves and to others.

I plodded over, not in too much of a hurry since I was heavily pregnant, but as I drew nearer I could hear all Hell breaking loose. Screaming and crying and the sound of things crashing about. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest to hear such a just seemed odd and out of place on that quiet morning. I mean their house was generally noisy anyhow...had to be with that many kids...but this was something else all together. It was absolute pandemonium!....I decided I needed to hurry.

I walked into the front door to find chaos in full force. Kids were running everywhere....mostly naked even though it was winter time...the first wife was shouting, at nobody in particular it seemed, and adding to the confusion and noise. As I mentioned I didn't understand their Arabic too well so really didn't know what she was going on about. I looked around for the second wife hoping to spot her baby and see if I could get a look at her. I found her over by the back door...holding her little girl...the baby was naked as well and the mom was crying and rocking back and forth but nobody was paying much attention to her. I hurried over and tried to look at the baby but she held her protectively and wouldn't let me see much. I decided it was no time to be nice about it and reached over and tore her hands away and grabbed the little girl for a closer look.

I'm no doctor...not even close...but with my first look I felt that little baby was already dead at that point. She had no apparent injuries that I could see on her naked body...but her eyes appeared to be fixed and dilated...her skin wasn't soft and pliable like a baby's should be....and her little mouth was slightly open....and she was cold.

I assumed she was dead already....but I didn't KNOW that for I laid her down so that I could start CPR on her. I had taken classes years before...I tried furiously to remember the differences when giving CPR to babies...the two finger approach...the lighter puffs so the lungs are not mind was racing meanwhile chaos still reigned supreme around me. I tried my best to shut all that out so I could focus on this little I could help this baby that had no one to help her.

At some point my husband stuck his head in...saw the emergency and ran back to the van to throw it back together again so he could take them to the hosp. None of us had a phone back then...and their were no neighbors with a car either and the hosp was about 20 min away.

So there I was...this little "sleeping" angel on the floor in front of me...pandemonium all around screaming mom and one sobbing mom...and all I wanted to do was get some breath into this little girl and give her a chance once she got to the hosp. I administered CPR for an untold amount of time...I have no idea how long it was as time meant nothing. It must have been awhile...enough to frustrate her mother that nothing was happening as she reached over and grabbed her child at some point and began putting clothes on her. I tried grabbing her back but the mother was focused now. My limited ability to get converse with her meant I couldnt explain what I was trying to do...and that it might take more effort to have affect. I was compeltely frustrated and felt utterly useless.

Put clothes on her girl and everything would be all right....seemed to be what the look on the mother's face was telling me. I tried taking her baby again but she glared at me and pushed me away...and I nearly fell backwards with my heavy belly wanting to tip me over. I looked down at her baby and felt so dreadfully sad for her and for a moment could only imagine what this mother was going through. I placed a hand on my own belly and said a silent prayer...both for this agonized mother and for myself and this unborn child.

I figured there would be no more chances to help her...and I felt the baby was long gone I walked outside and just tried to calm my heart and breathe.

My husband came rushing over and into the house. A few moments later the two wives came out with the baby and got into the van and left with him. I felt like crying when I realized they had left the remaining children alone in order to take a dead child to the hospital...a child that was maybe dead due to some neglect they made her suffer. At this point all the children ran screaming out into the streets again...seemingly uncaring that one of their tribe was no more. I realize the younger ones wouldn't likely understand...but the older ones had no excuse to be so cold about it all. They were old enough to understand what death was all about...yet here they were....roughhousing and running about like everything was normal and ordinary. I wanted to scream at them...but I didn't...what purpose would it have served?

I walked back to my house and sat down on my front door step and just tried to think of nothing at all. My heart was heavy and my mind tried showing me again and again that little angels face...a face that would never smile again with a baby's cute smile...or eyes that would never twinkle again with baby like curiosity. I kept the tears at bay for at least an hour...until my husband came home and told me she was dead...and had been so for awhile. Apparently she had some slight heart problem and the doctors had told the second wife to make sure she was kept warm and to keep an eye on her breathing etc. Apparently the mom decided to give her baby a cold the winter time no less. If that wasn't bad enough...she had left her NAKED for a period of time while she attended to something else.

That little girl didn't stand a chance against such ignorance and neglect.

I cried my heart out for that little girl then. I just sat there and cried until my eyes burned and my chest felt ready to explode. It seemed like such a WASTE of a precious little life. There was that family popping out kids like they were intent on populating the planet all by themselves...and had NO clue about how to care for children. I was sooooo damn upset that God could see fit to give UNFIT parents a child in the first place...not even one child...15(?) dams kids at that!!!

My husband got fed up and told me I was going to cause my own unborn child harm if I didn't quit crying and get a hold of myself...I didn't believe him...but I calmed down...tears don't fix anything...and they certainly don't turn back the hands of time. That baby was gone. The end.

Two thoughts remain with me about that experience. The second wife had another baby within a year...a little girl. She named that little girl the same as her first little girl. I found that rather upsetting and hard to swallow myself....but it wasn't up to me. That tribe of kids continued to grow and to run wild in the streets...there were many more accidents and near deaths in the years we lived next to them...they apparently didn't learn a thing. Poor kids.

Second thought...something that has plagued me with guilt all these years. My mind tells me that that little girl was dead already by the time I got to her and started CPR. The doctors also say she had been dead awhile...but I don't know how long they mean when they say "awhile" sometimes when I think about it...I think about how it was soooo damn noisy...and how I was trying to breath life into this little child that deserved it more than anyone else in that room at that moment...and I remember how I tried to listen to her I tried to drown out the sound of all that chaos and focus on a heartbeat...a breath sound...ANYTHING that would tell me she was responding....I tired so hard but then her mother grabbed her...and I could try no more. And I try NOT to think about how maybe...just maybe...there had been a faint heartbeat...a slight breath sound...a glimmer of a chance that would have turned into a full blown flame if I had tried harder...or if I had spent more time on her rather than her mother grabbing her away and snuffing out any chance there might have been.

I think about that....and I'm sad....but I'm angry as well. 23 years later and I see mothers here all the time very blase' about the safety of their children. Yes they love them. Yes they care for them...but do they think about their safety even for a moment? Small children alone in the streets tell me they don't. Very obese little children tell me they don't. Unseatbelted children tell me they don't. Children left alone at ages when NO mother should even consider leaving their child unattended tells me they don't. . Young children swimming alone...playing outside alone....waiting for the school bus early in the morning....alone. *sigh*

One more thing....the number of people in this country that DO NOT know how to administer basic CPR is my own personal experience very few people even consider it something they need to bother about. Most people have no clue even what it means. Ive witnessed several instances and heard of which CPR could have saved a life...but nobody around even knew enough about it to consider it an option as a life saving technique. My own oldest daughter stood by (she was around 12) while her best friends grandmother died in front of a house FULL of people...and not ONE of them knew CPR to try and save her life until the ambulance could arrive (an ambulance that took forever to get there btw...another reason to learn CPR).

People are drowning at the beaches and swimming pools every year here in Bahrain...because people go into the water NOT knowing how to swim...and NOT bothering to have someone that can swim watch over them....and NOT having someone around that knows how to administer CPR if an emergency should require it. A little girl died from drowning in a family pool last year while all her family stood around and cried and beat their chests and wailed for God to save her...

depend on God...but tie up your the hadith goes. *sigh*

Learn CPR if you haven't all could save a life.


Chiara said...

Edit and publish as an argument for traditionalists for why all women should receive an education: so they can understand and follow medical instructions and keep your children alive!

First Aid, Water Safety, and CPR should be part of all public schoold curricula, and where possible (ie pool, body of water) swimming lessons to the level of drownproofing and treading water.

Really sad but effective posts.

Are these the same neighbours that almost let you die?
A little too Insha'allah and not enough camel tying indeed!

coolred38 said...

Chiara...I agree...those basic life saving skills should be taught in school was when I grew up.

No these are not the same neighbors...those "hijab or death" neighbors were Yemeni...but with pretty much the same mentality concerning their children.

Chiara said...

Oh right--forgot the better to let her die under the hijab than risk immodesty part. Sad too, that a little first aid, emergency management hadn't been absorbed their either.

janice said...

This is so sad.

I can't imagine someone being so irresponsible with a baby/child. I would throw myself in front of a train to save my (23 YO) son.

Anonymous said...

I guess too many children in the house made both mothers less observant and create a can't bothered kind of attitude.

At least the 1st wife should know about taking care of children esp when playing outside.I presume she's older and experienced.It's so sad that a young child left this world because the very parents who brought her in didn't care for her the way she should be.

From reading your post,I get that they didn't have any domestic help.
That means taking care of the house and feeding these numerous children is pretty huge responsibility.I hate this lax attitude.The greater the # of kids is not equal to good quality.

angie nader said...

i really enjoy reading your blog....your stories are very telling in a open and honest way.
i cant imagine haveing to experiance what you did with your neighbors. its heart breaking.

coolred38 said...

Chiara...I deal with people like that all the time...its the "hijab or die" mentality that totally burns me up. God must put more value on women than that ...right? and me both. they didnt have domestic help...I sort of viewed them as the domestic help...someone to house the kids until daddy made a visit...impregnated help once more..then disappeared for awhile again.

Angie...thanks. Ive got more stories (some good..some not so good) stick

Chiara said...

God/Allah is less often the problem than humans are(notable exception the story of Job/ Ayoub).

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I had to get Layla and just hold her as I cried reading this one. Just another reminder of how precious the life of a sweet innocent child is.

I don't let anyone other than my own mom, husband, and best friend watch her along. I'm just paranoid I guess.

Br00ke said...

I've been meaning to learn cpr since I had my first 11 years ago. I think I did learn baby cpr, but I can't remember it at all. Our local women's org has been meaning to do a class also. InshAllah, we really do need to get on it.

Anonymous said...


I don't think you should be so quick to judge that it was the mother's fault. i am sure it is not easy to take care of all those kids, and humans and humans, they will get tired of life and responsibilities. as for the little girl, i like to believe, no in fact i know, that she will probably go to heaven; so, i don't mourn the loss of a child, knowing that they are better taken care of and with Allah; i mean i mourn the loss, but the loss is also a blessing. it is easy to judge and easier still to point fingers, but to put our selves in their shoes is very hard. if you tried living in that house your opinion might have been different. we are all flawed judges. more often than not we have change the things that we want to see changed in this world. for example, instead of just talking about how these women, and many besides, don't know cpr, it would have been great if you could have showed them, talked to them about their kids' security, and found out what they were going through while enclosed in that house full of kids. as for the husband, he is part of a society that cares only when the women are ready for marriage and to become mothers. religion has nothing to do with, for most muslim people do not follow islam as they should or even try for that matter. i am going to stop now, as i have much more to say but do not want to take up space. i am just saying, we should not ever be judgemental of others, and even if we knew the situation we should remember there are always more than two sides of the story.

coolred38 said...

Anon...Im sorry you feel I was judging them...I was not. I was sad for the ignorance they displayed over the safety of their children. And I very much would have liked to show them how to perform CPR but the language barrier was huge between us...even my young daughter translating wouldnt have been able to over come it....and as I mentioned...alot of Arabs I have met dont even consider CPR something they should bother learning.

Im sure that baby is in heaven now as well...a deserving resting place after such a painfully short life.

Thank you for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

It isn't even the fact they had all those babies but the fact of almost no paternal presence. Perhaps a commentary of the negatives of polgamy. In the US we have the Duggars - 17 or 18 kids I think and yes it is a tv show but it is obvious those kids are hyper-structured in their day and are well behaved. Perhaps in part because their Dad is always there? Some people highly underrate the affect of a good male role model for kids.

.::Tuttie::. said...

I had to run to get my little dude and hug him.

.::Tuttie::. said...

I had to run to get my little dude and hug him.