Lesson 85 on Ways and means
Shabana was indomitable. She refused to compromise. But some things were out of her power. She was the treasured baby of the family and much indulged by her parents, being the only child left at home. Even so, there was a limit to her ability to affect family decisions.
Mrs Nurse was the first to notice something was wrong. There was a familiar voice missing in the corridors and the dinner hall. Shabana had gone quiet. Mrs Nurse didn’t like it when people went silent. It was a bad sign. She decided to get to the bottom of it.
It didn’t take her long. Mrs Nurse used to patrol the corridors and the school field during the lunch hour, and not much escaped her scrutiny. She was always on the lookout for any worrying changes in behaviour and followed them up. She soon found Shabana, and, despite their past battles (or perhaps because of the respect she had gained from them), she persuaded her to say what was making her miserable.
It emerged her father had the possibility of extending his business interests in Dubai, so he and her mother were proposing to go there for some months, with a view to a permanent move.
“But that would be great, Shabana! Wouldn’t you like to go?”
“No, Nurse! That’s not it! They want to go on their own and leave me here with my brother and his wife till they sort out the business!”
That explained everything. Shabana’s brother was a serious young man with a growing family. Helping her sister-in-law with wailing babies and tiresome under fives was manifestly not in Shabana’s personal life plan.
But nothing could be done. Business was business. Her father was firm against her pleading. It would only be a matter of months and he didn’t want her education to be interrupted.
Nurse and I were dubious about the likelihood of Shabana’s educational improvement, but agreed it showed his heart was in the right place.
Shortly after our conversation, however, a breathless messenger came running to summon Mrs Nurse to the her classroom. Shabana had collapsed. I waited anxiously. Soon a second runner appeared. She had been sent to fetch the wheelchair. Shabana was conscious, but was too weak to walk.
Shabana was wheeled to the sick room and put to bed while Mrs Nurse dealt with contacting people, but she remained sceptical. Shabana had no fever or sickness. She wasn’t in any pain. But there was no denying she appeared to have lost the use of her legs. If she tried to stand, she collapsed. An ambulance had to be called.
Mrs Nurse kept in touch with the distraught parents and the hospital. Shabana was undergoing various tests, but her condition was still a mystery. The journey to Dubai was put on hold.
But not for long. When the news was conveyed to Shabana, her condition began to improve. She could walk a few steps. In fact, by the time she came to see us to say goodbye, she was fully on her feet.
Quite well enough to travel with her parents to Dubai. After that scare they couldn’t bear to leave her behind.