Unknown Relations

Even thought I have seen his battered and bandaged face many times in the papers, I never thought that I would be the person who would perform the operation to make it well again. I was contacted at nine thirty today by Mr. Dushrali, the director of my hospital, congratulating me as I am the chief surgeon for the plastic surgery team for the boy. Even though I almost never read the papers, I have caught his bandaged face on the newspaper when my wife was reading it. It was the biggest propaganda coup for all the anti-American politicians and journalists. His story was a popular one even here in Kuwait even though most of us have a very pro-American stand in this war. I knew his name better than his face because of two reasons. Firstly, I have never seen his face. I have seen only the bandages that covered in the newspapers. Secondly, my nephew has the same name-Ali Khan. My nephew, Ali, lived on the border with my sister and her husbands family.

He was my favorite nephew. Even though I saw him three years ago, I remember him very well. He was very energetic, very buoyant and a very clever little lad. He must be nine years by now, I thought.

I was to meet the boy at 4:30 at the military hospital in Kuwait where I work. Then we will decide on the procedure of the operation and the extend of plastic surgery he will require. All in all, I would be with him for more than a week, I mused.

"So Rushdie, I hear that you are the chief surgeon for the Hali" Dr. Mohammad said as he entered my room.
"Who is Hali?" I asked.
"The kid you're operating on. That is the name by which he goes here - Handless Ali. Poor kid. He is only nine years old and he lost his entire family in this war, not to mention his hands."
"When is he arriving?"
"He arrived here yesterday. They transfered him to here to undergo the required surgery before they will take him back to another hospital. I was asked to give you the details of this case." Mohammad said as he handed over a yellow file to me "It contains the personal details and injury report for this case."

I turned over to the first page.

Name: Ali Khan
Father's Name : Ibrahim Khan
Mother's Name : Rizwana Khan

His mother...

I suddenly stood up.

"Where is He?" I asked.
"He is room B12."

I ran out of my office, pushing aside a very surprised Mohammad and got into the lift. As the lift slowed down to a stop, I got out of it and went in the room with the plate B12 on the top of the door.

As I walked in the boy in the bed, Ali, looked at me for the longest second of my life. Then his face broke into a smile.

"Uncle Rushdie!" He exclaimed.