Dreams of Water

By Nada Awar Jarrar

Samir has bought his father a wheelchair to take him out for walks in the park. The first time they go out, Salah asks to wear his suede jacket, the camel hair scarf that goes with it and the gloves that Aneesa gave him. Samir wraps a woolen throw around his father’s legs just before they step outside the front door.

The cold is bearable, Samir thinks as he pushes the chair on to the pavement and prepares to go across the road. There aren’t too many cars driving past but he nonetheless waits until the road is completely empty before going across it and then up the ramp that leads into the park.

“Not many leaves left on the trees, are there, baba? Still, it’s nice to be out again, isn’t it?”
It rained earlier in the day and the cement path is still dark and wet. Samir stops and bends down to pull Salah’s scarf up around his ears. He looks into his father’s eyes for a moment and smiles.
“You look like I used to when Mum wrapped me up in all those clothes on our trips to the snow. Do you remember, baba?”

Salah nods and smiles weakly back at Samir. Then he points ahead and they begin to move again. Samir leans into the chair and pushes hard. Salah has lost a great deal of weight but the wheelchair is heavy. There are no children playing in the park because it is still relatively early in the morning. The two men go past the green field that footballers use as a pitch at weekends and over the stream and the small bridge leading to the other side of the park. Salah points again.

“Do you want to go and sit by the pond?” Samir asks. “It might be too cold but we’ll try anyway.”
They move down to the water and when they get there Samir stops and puts on the wheelchair brakes.
“It’s a beautiful view, isn’t it, baba? Look at those geese over there, and there’s a duck diving into the water.”

The pond is dark and still except where the birds are quietly moving across its surface and leaving a faint ripple of light behind them. A squirrel scampers up to the chair and sits up on its luxuriant tail.
Salah looks up at Samir and Samir nods with a smile. Salah hangs his head and frowns. He holds out his hand.


“We didn’t bring any bread with us, baba. Did you want to feed the animals? I’m sorry, habibi. I’ll be sure to bring something for them next time we come. I didn’t think of it.”
Salah turns his head away to look at the pond once again. Samir steps up behind him and places a hand on his father’s shoulder. The park has turned suddenly quiet and Samir decides it is time to go back home.

From Dreams of Water by Nada Awar Jarrar. Published by Harper Collins Publisher, London, 2007.
Reprinted with permission.