I woke up to a load shrill. I groaned and groped for the light. I had promised Matron I’d go through with whatever she said and I basically committed to being your typical goody two shoes Muslim Girl for a while, but already my resolve was waning.
If it involved awakening so early every morning, there was no way I was going to be happy about it. I looked around the room, puzzled. I didn’t see Matron and where did the ringing come from. Rubbing my eyes, I stepped out of the guest room and saw Matron rushing towards the telephone in the hall. I followed behind her and stood straining to hear the conversation. The few words I picked up didn’t give me too much of a clue. Emergency… Resisting… Medical assistance… Immediate help… Urgent…
Matron put down the phone and she was running around like a mad woman the next moment, grabbing her abaya, hijab, niqaab and handbag. Everytime I tried to ask her what was going on, she disappeared in some other direction.
Eventually, just as she was about to exit the front door, I grabbed her arm. “What’s going on? Where are you going?”
“Not sure. Go to sleep Haalah.”
“No, tell me!”
“I honestly don’t know myself. I got a call from the police department with directions and telling me that it’s an emergency. Now I really need to go.”
“I’m coming with you,” I insisted.
She shook her head but I persisted.
“I’ve never stayed a day of my life alone in a building at night. I’ve always one person, even if it was just the housekeeper. I’m not staying here.”
She sighed and relented, “Okay but you’re staying in the car.”
I noded and shrugged. We drove in silence until Matron pulled into the parking lot of a building. “This is the address the inspector gave me.”
I stared at her dubiously. “You’re sure this is not a prank? You know what this place is? It’s the most popular outlet for sporting goods. Practically every teen has shopped her at least once in their lives.”
The next five minutes passed by tediously slowly. Matron forced me to wait in the car. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got out and went searching to see where Matron had gone to. Hearing a soft hum of voices, I followed the noise till it led me inside the outlet.
Bile rose in my throat as I watched the scene in front of me. I squeezed my eyes shut and I had to resist the urge to vomit. My head spun. Oh god! I can’t handle blood.
I forced my eyes to open and take in the scene in front of me even though my feet were itching to run away. The was a boy on the floor, excessively bleeding from his right leg. A few paramedics hovered uncertainly around him.
No one had noticed me yet. I stared at them incredulously. Why were they not helping him! Even if he was a criminal, he still deserved medical assistance. Just as I was about to say something, one of the paramedics stepped forward and attempted to examine the man’s wound. I sighed in relief but then gasped as I watched the man thrash and fight against the paramedics hold. He was desperately injured and I have no idea where he found the energy to fight, seeing the amount of blood pooling beneath him.
My eyes suddenly found Matron, rushing towards us. Next to her was a man dressed smartly in a formal suit. Rochdale’s police chief, I realised. I recognised him from the local gazette.
Matron rushed towards the injured man and knelt down next to him. I crept forward, desperate to hear what was being said in their hushed tones. One of the paramedics was speaking to Matron, “…just need you to administer a sedative if you can manage that. We’ve tried but cannot manage, he’s fighting everytime we get close to him.”
I glanced down at the man, now that I was nearer, I recognised him. He was the same guy who had called Matron, ‘Ummi. In my peripheral vision I noticed the paramedic unwrapping a needle and attaching it to a syringe. Oh god! I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, and tried to block out all sounds and thoughts about that huge terrifying needle, from my mind.
So focused was I on blocking everything out, that I jumped 2 feet when a hand rested on my shoulder. “What are you doing here? I gave you clear instructions to wait in the car.”