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    #1

    Appendicitis, part two

    Would you please correct the mistakes in the second part of my short story?

    Father was a heavy smoker. About forty cigarettes was his daily intake, which together with fatty food he loved, was a dangerous combination. I told him many times he should quit or cut smoking, but he would dismiss me with a wave of his hand. “Don’t tell me how to live,” was his reply. He did not care for the warning signals his body gave him, and he did not need to wait long for his punishment. One day I looked out of the window and saw his car driving up our street. I went out to meet him, but when the driver opened the door, instead of Father, Ahmed greeted me with his grave face. “Your father is in the hospital. Two heart attacks, but he will pull through. He is a strong man.”

    Father survived but was scared of death. When he finally after weeks of hospitalisation returned home, he swore never to light a cigarette again. He took an unopened cigarette packet and with a marker wrote the date he suffered the heart attacks. He kept it in a cabinet together with his medicine so that every time he took his pills, it would remind him of the consequences of smoking. Sometimes he would put the packet on the table and stare at it, tempted to open it, telling me he wished to smoke again more than anything in his life, but then his sanity would prevail, and he would take it back to the cabinet. He kept his promise and never opened it until years later when the war broke out and my neighbours started to smoke leaves because they could not buy cigarettes anymore. Father understood their plight and gave them the packet, which for them at that moment was more worthy than gold.

    He had a long convalescence, after which he hoped to return to work, but his heart was too weak, and on advice of doctors, he retired. Soon after that, he sold his car because his low pension did not allow him any luxuries. But his friendship with his former colleagues did not stop, and they would buy him a drink and talk with him whenever they met in town. One day he returned distressed from his daily stroll. He told me Ahmed had appendicitis and needed immediate surgery.
    We hoped for his speedy recovery, but after a few days, Ahmed had not come home. Father went to hospital to visit him and returned telling me that Ahmed’s wound would not heal properly. Despite that, Ahmed was in good mood, and he was even joking. Unfortunately, weeks turned into months, and he was still in the hospital. Father went to visit him occasionally, but the news he brought back was the same. We did not want to believe that life could be so cruel to the man who had helped so many people and who was respected by everyone.

    I liked to stay fit, and every morning I would do pull-ups on a metal bar my father had set up between two plum trees. On one occasion, as I was lifting my chin above the bar, a sharp pain went through my lower abdomen. I dropped to the ground as if I had been shot. I went into the house, took off my briefs and saw a lump protruding under my pubic hair. I knew nothing about human anatomy, and when I show it for Father, he told me I probably had a hernia. The next day the doctor confirmed Father’s diagnosis and referred me to surgery.
    Two weeks later, I went to the hospital. I was so focused on my operation that I had never thought about the possibility of meeting Ahmed. But as I walked down the corridor in the ward to my room, a door opened into one of the rooms, and a man stepped out. He looked like an apparition from the grave. His pyjamas and his pale face had identical hue of white, as well as his dishevelled hair. We caught each other’s eye, and it took me a while to recognise Ahmed. We hugged and shook hands. His handshake was limp, as if his pale fingers belonged to someone else. He told me to put my things in my room and return to his. He was eager to talk to me.

    Ahmed had a large room only for himself. It was bright and airy, and had a view of the town. His wife, Mira had brought him a portable TV, radio, and pots of flowers. A large bowl with fruit stood on his bedside table together with the picture of his family. He sat on his bed while I sat in a chair drinking a glass of orange juice. He rubbed his palms together, which sounded like sandpaper. His blue eyes came to life as he asked me if everything was all right with Father. I told him he took long strolls with his friends every day along the river, and they played bocce in the park. His heart did not give him much trouble except when it was cold and foggy.
    “Glad to hear you father is getting better. I am longing for a walk outside, especially now when the weather is warm, but this damn wound won’t heal, as if someone has put a curse on me.”

    As we talked, the door opened and a nurse stepped in. She said she had to redress Ahmed’s wound. I wanted to leave, but he told me to stay. I was never squeamish about blood or wounds, but when the nurse removed the dressing, and a dark, thick liquid trickled out of the opening, I winced. The room filled with the putrid smell which hit my nostrils and constricted my throat. Ahmed talked on calmly as if nothing unusual was happening, and I had to pretend I saw and smelled nothing.
    In the afternoon, Mira came to visit him, as she had done every day all these months. I did not know where she found the strength and energy to walk about four kilometres from the bank in town where she worked to the hospital, and then another five back home. Rain or shine, she would hurry with her bags filled with food, fruit, papers and magazines and spend an hour or two in his company. At weekends, she would arrive in the morning and stay with him until afternoon. She was fighting her own battle against the evil wound, and she wanted to defeat it with her overwhelming love.

    My surgery was booked for the following day, but for some reason, the surgeon was unable to come, and the nurse told me I had to wait until Monday. Although I wished to get rid of the hernia as soon as possible, I was glad to spend a weekend together with Ahmed.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    First paragraph. Second sentence. Say:

    together with the fatty food he loved

    Third sentence. Say:

    he should quit or cut back on the number of cigarettes he smoked per day

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Is 40 cigarettes two packs?

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    #4

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Tarheel,

    40 cigarettes are two packs.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Say:

    He did not heed the warning signals his body gave him....

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    All the time my father smoked (a long time) I never learned how many cigarettes are in a pack. (He didn't quit until he developed emphysema. Too late!)

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    #7

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Tarheel,
    My father smoked all his life, but when he went through a messy divorce, his smoking became worse.

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    #8

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Paragraph two. Sentence two. It's okay, but you could also say:

    he swore never to light another cigarette

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Please say:

    my neighbours smoked leaves because they could not buy cigarettes anymore.

  7. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Appendicitis, part two

    Say:

    was worth more than gold

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