Family Day (full story by Mahmoud Suleiman Abdi Dualeh)

Family Day 

  • Chapter 1

The Exotic Grand cruise ship sails through the Pacific Ocean on route to American Samoa. The cruise started in California and travelled across the Pacific, stopping in various island locations along the way. It stopped in Guam, Hawaii and several other islands so far. Its final destination is Papua New Guinea, where the Noor family and all other passengers will complete their ocean-wide journey. Weather reports have been generally favourable for the course of the trip.

The Noor family has four members. Hisham and Munirah Noor are the parents of the family and both have two children together called Nawal and Hilal Noor. They were enjoying their cruise trip very much and relished all the memories they were making as a family. In many ways, they were the picturesque family. For Munirah Noor, it surely felt that way too.

“Hilal, stay away from the edge of the ship,” Munirah said to her wandering son by her husband’s side. 

“Ok, Mom. What is planned for today?” Hilal (six years old) asked to walk alongside his sister. 

“I think there is a show planned in the theatre hall. Is that right, Hisham?” Mouneirah asked Hisham. 

“Let me check the programme,” Hisham said while struggling with his brochure and map. “Yes, the cruise organizers are putting on a show titled Sea Voyagers and their Journeys.”

“Sounds like fun,” Nawal (eight) said, apparently happy with the prospect of watching the show. 

Just as Nawal finished saying that, a bolt of lightning flashed through the sky. This was momentarily followed by rapturous thunder. The weather report said that the skies would be clear, but the weather changed quickly and the sky discreetly filled with clouds. It was now raining. 

“I think we better go inside,” Munirah told her family. Her family quickly joined her in the auditorium. 

As the day progressed, the weather got worse and worse until finally a crew member announced to the passengers a storm had started and that they were to remain calm and seated. While the crew member asked everyone to remain calm, Munirah felt anything but calm and feared that her family’s quintessential lives were in for a  real test. 

Just like that, Munirah woke up from her sleep, in her apartment, and sat up in her bed. It was 14 years after her family’s cruise trip in the Pacific where the cruise ship crashed; leaving few known survivors and a lot of missing people. Munirah had this recurrent dream-turned-nightmare of her family on a cruise and then separated in the midst of a devastating storm. She has gotten good at waking up before her dreams turn into a nightmare. 

Munirah had not seen her family since the cruise and has been in a 14-year runt as a result of losing her perfect life. She got up out of bed and proceeded to get ready for the day. Every task she did, from brushing her teeth to combing her hair, was dull and she had completely lost pleasure in life. As she got dressed, she turned on the TV in the room to hear the local news. She frequently looked to hear news of any missing people found to the point of obsession. She had first filed a missing person’s report for her three lost family members 14 years ago, and continuously checks on the search with the police 

“Good morning Chicago! This is the 6 o’clock news,” a news broadcaster exclaimed. Munirah was in no mood to match his enthusiasm. “Today is a special day. Y’all know what day it is, right? Today is family day!” The news broadcaster said, with the words showing up behind him. 

Suddenly, a sinking feeling overcame Munirah. She had forgotten about family day and always feels a sense of loss every time it comes around. The news broadcaster continued talking, but Munirah had to turn off the television. She then wept quietly to herself, feeling excruciating pain at the thought of how much she missed her family. 

Chapter 2 

Walking down the streets of Chicago, a beautiful young lady was on her way to work like she was five days a week at the same time. She dragged her way across the street, as fatigue and lethargy kept her inactive. While she felt particularly low most days, she felt even lower today. That is because today is family day and Nawal Noor has been dreading this day ever since she got separated from her family 14 years ago. She is not fond of seeing so many families enjoying their days when she had hers cruelly taken away from her. 

Nawal made her way to work and imploded into her chair. The cheerful faces all around her were beaming with joy. Some people were proudly introducing colleagues to their children that they brought along with them. Parents would bring their children to work on Family Day, and others would gush at the pictures of their loved ones that they would show to their workmates. All this made Nawal so blue that she felt sick. 

“What’s with the long face, Nawal? Today is Family Day, surely you would be happy celebrating today. Are you feeling alright,” Steve, one of her colleagues, asked, displaying his ignorance to Nawal’s woes. 

“No, I’m feeling a bit under the weather actually,” Nawal said, telling Steve a white lie. 

“That’s a shame, because we have some reports we need to write by tomorrow morning. It’s a bit of a bummer, today being Family Day and all,” Steve revealed to Nawal. 

“That’s all right, I don’t have anything planned for today,” Nawal blankly shared with Steve. 

“No, aren’t you going to the local family day show in the city hall?” Steve was surprised by Nawal’s lack of cheer and gloomy demeanor on what was a festive day. Nawal had forgotten about the annual show, which families would go to see on Family Day. 

“No, I’m not going to the show, so I can write the reports.” Nawal murmured.

“Okay then, great, can you possibly take up some of my work so I can go,” Steve asked hopingly.  Nawal day took a turn for the worse, just when she thought it could not get any worse. 

“Yeah, sure, I can do all the reports.” Nawal murmured, again, feeling even lower than before. 

“That’s wonderful! Thanks so much Nawal, I’ll pay you back,” Steve exclaimed, while leaving the workload on her desk and walking away. 

“I’m sure you will,” Nawal projected, as Steve walked away. 

Nawal preceded to start her work, but her thoughts kept on coming back to her family. She longed to have them around and feel like she did when she was younger. She was only a child then, but she remembered vividly and fondly how it was like to have a warm, loving family. These days, she lives alone having no family in her life. What she would give to have her mother, father and brother back. 

Chapter 3

It was half past six in the evening, and Hilal Noor was feeling angsty and fidgeting around in the living room of his house. He has been struggling with anger lately, unable to cope with the grief of his incredible losses. Hilal had been moving from foster home to foster home and, when he turned 18, he got a place of his own to finally settle down in. Only, he felt anything but settled. 

Hilal lives in a house in downtown Chicago, with some housemates that go to university with him. There was Carl Jackson (a Tennessee-born American studying in Chicago), Valentina Rodriguez (an American born in Alabama of Puerto Rican descent) and Dawood Yassin (a Mauritanian native who emigrated to the U.S.). All of them, including Hilal, were from vastly different backgrounds, but they shared a few things in common. For starters, they all studied chemistry. Unlike Hilal, though, the three other housemates also eagerly anticipated Family Day and celebrated fervently when it came around. 

“You ready to go to the big show,” Carl asked Hilal, creeping up on him in the living room.

“Jeez, you almost gave me a heart attack,” Hilal said, unamused by Carl’s prankster demeanour. 

“I was just goofing around. So, are you going?” Carl asked again. 

“Going where?” Hilal replied inquisitively. 

“Going to the Family Day show in city hall, of course,” Carl said, taken aback by Hilal’s lack of holiday spirit. 

“Oh… that; yeah, I’m not going to that show.” Hilal said, completely forgetting about Family Day and bummed out at the prospect of not having a family to celebrate it with. 

‘Why not. You should go. I’m sure your parents would be crushed if they did not see you. Mr and Mrs. Fathi are the best.” Carl concluded, gushing about Hilal’s foster parents. Hilal never told them that Mr. and Mr.s Fathi weren’t his biological parents and that they were the seventh pair of foster parents he had, all having abandoned him within a year of adopting him. 

“I don’t think they’ll be too bothered, actually. Besides, I have final exams to study for by the end of the semester.” Hilal mumbled, unmoved by Carl’s cheerful disposition. 

“Ok, but that’s the second year in a row you’ve missed the Family Day show to study for finals. You’re going to have to go to it one day.” Carl told Hilal, seemingly disappointed in his lack of desire to go to city hall and celebrate. 

Carl did not know of Hilal’s pain. Hilal badly wanted to go, but he had no family to go with. He would not go with anyone as well, but only with the family he had not seen for 14 years. He had no other family that he knew of and, for all those reasons, Hilal felt incredibly lonely. If only there was a way to be reunited with his family again. 

Chapter 4

Darkness had settled, and a cold breeze swept through the streets. The night resonated with Hisham, as he had been a mess for the longest time. His appearance was shambolic, and he was far from hygienic. Hisham lived alone, and cut himself from the world in his grief. He wanted to be particularly distant from people on this of all days, Family Day. 

Hisham was reminded of the day he dreaded, earlier on his rare trip to the store. The shopkeeper had cheerfully asked if had anyone special to celebrate with. 

“Wish your family a happy Family Day for me, will you? You do have family, right?” The shopkeeper asked, trying to verify his assumptions, as he calculated Hisham’s shopping bill

Hisham looked defeated, but tried to muster his strength to answer, “Yes, I do have a family. I’m sure they are receiving your wishes well.”

“Well, that’s splendid. That’ll be four dollars and twelve cents.” The shopkeeper added, completely unaware of the pain Hisham was experiencing. 

“Alright, here you go.” Hisham said, handing over a $5 note. The shopkeeper tried to give back his change, but HIsham insisted that he should keep the change. He soon left the shop. 

Back on his way home, Hisham could not fathom how he could carry on without his family. No matter how much time went by, he could not accept what happened on that drastic night in the Pacific Ocean. It was time for a change but Hisham was not sure what change would occur. Whatever happened, Hisham was settled on the idea of having his family back in his life. 

As he laboured on through the streets of Chicago, Hisham wondered what happened to his family. He did not want to dwell on those thoughts usually, as dwelling on those thoughts would usually lead to worst-case-scenario thinking. He did find himself straying into those paths of thinking from time to time though. He often thought about what happened to them, concluding this time that they must have survived. Their bodies were not found while other bodies, although unfortunate, were accounted for. Suddenly thinking more positively, Hisham wondered, “if they are alive, then the only question is ‘where are they’.”

Almost spontaneously, that question led to a bolt of inspiration that overcame Hisham. He had decided that enough was enough and that he was going to accept that his family were onboard a ship that crashed all the years ago. He did not have any proof, though, that his family were not alive, and that fuelled him on a mission to find them. Whatever it takes, Hisham was committed to finding his family. 

Chapter 5

It was 7:30 pm, and the Family Day show was about to start. Mouneirah had not been to, or watched a Family Day show, since the one before the cruise ship her family was on sank. That was in 2003. Just as she was ready to switch off the television and retreat to her couch in a pit of misery, Mouneirah sat up straight and turned up the volume on the television. She had grown tired of her routine, which was going on too long for her liking. She wanted to grieve her loss, but she did not want to give up as well. 

“Things will be different from now on,” she thought to herself. “Just because I don’t know where they are now does not mean that they are not somewhere, alive and healthy. I can still find them,” Mouneirah continued her train of positive thinking. She was suddenly feeling more excited than she had ever been. She had to calm herself down, remembering that she had not found her dear husband and children yet. 

Mouneirah did not know where to start with her search, at first. She did not believe that it took her this long to start actively searching for her family herself. She relied on missing people’s reports, but knew too well how keen the police were to give up on a missing person’s case. Not that she blamed them, the chances of finding people in this great big world were very slim. “I still have a chance, though,” Mouneirah thought, beaming with enthusiasm. 

An idea dawned on Mouneirah. She would get inspiration or her search by watching the Family Day show on television. She switched to the local news channel where they were airing the show. On the channel of the Family Day show, there was an exquisitely-set stage serenaded by thousands of flowers and balloons. In the middle of the stage, this year’s Master of Ceremony (MC), Paul Lane, was standing under a massive Family Day 2017 banner. The show was just like Mouneirah remembered. 

As the show progressed, Mouneirah started to grow a stronger and stronger sense of purpose. Her commitment to the cause of finding her family was verging on the brink of obsession, but it made her feel better. Finding her family would give her a reason for being. While optimism flooded her mind, Mouneirah was drawn back to the show. 

The show closed as it always did, with the world-famous Family Day closing tradition. All the people in the audience were naturally there with their families. As the show comes to an end, the MC would ask for every family member in the audience to stand and be appreciated by their community, as the rest of the audience applauded them. That gives every family a chance to be recognized as valuable members of society. As Paul Lane asked every family to take a bow, Mouneirah’s heart filled with joy. She badly wanted for her family to enjoy that great tradition, as they once did. 

Chapter 6

Nawal was lodged in the bus, moving in a very sluggish manner. It was the day after Family Day, and she was in the same place she has been ever since her family’s shipwreck. The thing that got her most about her ordeal was how she was not able to reunite with her family, even though they were all on the same ship earlier. Her captain of the rescue mission that saved her said, “It’s possible that you and your family members washed up on different parts of the island shores, or on different islands all together.” “Whatever the case, it is sickening how cruel life can be sometimes,” Nawal thought. 

The bus stopped at her stop and Nawal got off, dragging herself across the bus and onto the street. She just finished a heck of a long assignment, and was not in the mood to do anything. She was walking on her way home when she was drawn to a slew of newspapers stacked outside a shop. “Family Day Show a BIg Success, Families Applauded by their Community,” read a headline. “Ugh, I can’t escape this day. Even when it is over it still haunts me,” Nawal said out loud to herself. Someone turned worryingly towards her and she just waved back awkwardly, trying to defuse the situation. 

Nawal had had enough of what became of her life. She would deal with her struggles, once and for all. The only question is how. How would Nawal overcome a world of pain that she has been experiencing for over a decade? How would she fill the bottomless pits in her heart, left by the inexplicable absence of her loved ones? 

As she questioned her plan, it hit her that she does not have to accept they are gone. There is no proof that her parents and brother had passed, and Nawal was not going to accept that without proof. Instead of succumbing to what could have happened, Nawal is going to believe that her family members somehow made it and embark on a mission to find them. But first, she was going to buy a copy of a newspaper reporting on Family Day. 

Nawal entered the shop to buy a copy, and bumped into a young man walking out. In a bout of giddiness, she did not pay attention to the person’s face, as she apologized and rushed off the counter. Nothing could take her mind off her mission. The young man, with his head hanging down, heard her apologize and mumbled something along the lines of, “it’s alright.”

 Hilal was leaving the shop, bumping into a happy lady on his way out. What was to come of his life now that Family Day is over, and he could push thoughts of his missing family to the back of his mind. He did not want to live a meaningless life, only to be reminded of his horrible losses in the next Family Day. What if those losses did not actually occur, though? What if his family members were alive, and he was not far away from meeting them?

Hilal made up his mind. He was going to look for his family, and fill the gaping holes in his soul. 

Chapter 7

Having found a new sense of purpose in life, Hilal was determined to make a plan that would see him reach the goal of finding his family. There were a lot of places he could look for them. He used to live in a house with his family, before they went off on the cruise that would cruelly separate them. He might pay his old home a visit, to see if all, or some, of his family members are still there. What if he does not find them there?

Hilal would need a back up plan, in case his family members are not in his old home. Hilal had a brilliant idea, which could see his family reunited if he cannot find them in his old stomping grounds first. “I will organize a public reunion for missing people and their families. All missing people and separated families can meet in this event, and be finally reunited. That would give a chance for me to finally see my family again,” Hilal ventured off in a train of thought. 

He grew in confidence, and started to strongly believe in his plan. If he puts up enough ads then surely one, two or all three of his family members will respond to the event. The only question for Hilal was how he would attract people. Just as he was questioning the event’s attendance, Hilal saw an ad for an amusement park in a magazine. “It might just not be a bad idea to hold the reunion here, where others might get the impression that a lot of people might show up thus attending the reunion themselves,” Hilal pondered. 

He would have to call the amusement park managers, to see if they would agree to him holding the event there. The alternative of asking families to show up in his house paled in comparison to the idea of the reunion taking place in a busy place. People would take the latter idea more seriously. Hilal, reassured that he was onto something, picked up his phone and dialed the number on the ad. 

“Hello,” a loud female voice boomed through the phone after the ringing stopped.

“Hi, my name is Hilal and I had a query about your amusement park. Could I speak to the manager?”

“You’re speaking to her,” the manager said at a quick pace. 

“Oh, right. I was wondering if I could rent out a stall which I would use to hold an event.” Hilal clarified, hoping the response would be positive. 

“I don’t care what you use the stall for as long as its pg. It is pg, right?” The manager asked intently. 

“Yes, the event is for a family reunion for mission people and their families.” Hilal answered.

“Again, I don’t care. Each stall costs $50 a day.” The manager revealed, uninterested in the details of Hilal’s story. 

“Oh, perfect. I’ll book a stall for tomorrow,” Hilal said enthusiastically. 

“Perfect,” the manager replied sarcastically. “We take cash and you’ll have to pay half up front.”

Hilal wanted to thank her but she had hung up by then. Rude encounter aside, Hilal was suddenly buzzing, thinking that his plan would work. He now needed to send out an ad that will attract a lot of people in one day. He decided to place physical and electronic copies across the city and on the web respectively. That way people will be bound to come to the event. 

Chapter 8

It’s the day of the family reunion event, at the local amusement park. Hilal’s optimism has been replaced by a sense of nervousness. “What if people do not show up? What if my family does not see the ads I put up,” Hilal asked himself these tough questions. In the past day, Hilal put up dozens of ads across Chicago and also created an event page on social media platforms. Hilal never used his social media account called Lost Youth, but saw the power of social media in finding people. Whatever happens, it is now almost crunch time, and the moment of truth about whether his family will be reunited is about to dawn on him. 

Over in Lower West Side Chicago, Muneriah was busy piecing her life back together as she walked down the street of her apartment. She had brighter days now, as she eagerly anticipated seeing her family again. While she made no headway on actually finding her family members, she remained upbeat and positive about the prospect. As her thoughts have been dominated by family, so has her attention been as she saw a family of four walking in the opposite direction. She could not help but smile at them as they walked by.

 With a turn of the head, she caught a glimpse of a flier out of the corner of her eye. She walked towards it and read, “Family Reunion Event in Walterby Amusement Park Today!” Muneirah could not believe her eyes, as she continued reading about the event that plans to reunite missing family members. She decided it was fate that she read the flyer, and decided to go. Her prayers have been answered. 

In her apartment, Nawal was busy surfing the net, looking for traces of her lost family members. She kept on searching for her family member’s names, even nicknames, but ended up finding nothing. Just when she was about to give up in frustration, she searched for missing families online. Scrolling through the search results, she did not find anything on the Noor Family, but did find something interesting. It was an ad for an event that will attract lost family members, and see them reunited. “What a wonderful idea,” Nawal thought, and marked her attendance on the event page. She would attend the event, and hopefully find her family there.

Hisham was having lunch with a friend of a friend in a cafe, by the lake. He was happy to be less withdrawn than usual, but was especially happy to pool his resources in finding his family. His lunchmate happened to be a police officer, and Hisham wanted to know the nitty-gritty of a missing persons search. 

“Hi, Martin, I’m Hisham,” HIsham said, introducing himself.

“Hi Hisham. I’m glad you asked me to come today.” Martin said. 

“I’m happy you responded to my invite today,” Hisham told his guest after exchanging pleasantries. 

“Anything for a friend of Sam’s.” Martin said, nudging Hisham on the shoulder.

“Please sit, I would like to talk to you about something important.” Hisham said, indicating a seat at the table next to him. 

The two discussed how the police attempted to find missing people and his family’s case for some time. As Martin talked about police searches in brutal honesty, Hisham felt less and less hopeful about the police finding his family. 

“And after a certain amount of time, the case becomes cold and the search is effectively over.” Martin revealed to Hisham. 

“Well, thank you for your honesty. I have a clearer picture of what to expect.” Hisham said, thanking Martin. 

Martin could see the pain in Hisham’s eyes and said, “listen, it’s not impossible. It’s just unlikely. If you are really interested in meeting your family, you can go to this missing persons event in Walterby Amusement Park today.”

“Wait, what event?” Hisham said, sensing a turn in his fortunes. 

“The missing persons event, I heard about it yesterday from a friend. Tom, have you heard of him?” Martin asked. Hisham was uninterested in anything but this event, and as he got information about the timings he thanked Martin again and was on his way to Walterby Amusement Park. 

Chapter 9

Later in the day, Hilal entered the Walterby Amusement Park shortly before opening. People were already waiting for the park to open, giving Hilal a sense of hope and anxiety at the same time. He was hopeful because he thought high numbers of visitors today meant that people were responding to his ads, and anxious because he was not sure if a lot of people helped or hampered his chances of spotting his family members.”What if I do not see them in the sea of faces here, or what if I do see them but don’t recognize them,” Hilal asked himself. He was worried that his family’s time spent apart would cost them their chances of a reunion. 

Trying to liven up his mood, Hilal approached the reception desk in the manager’s office at the park. 

“Hello, I’m here to pay for the stall I booked today,” Hilal told the receptionist. 

“Hi, what’s your name?” The receptionist asked. 

“My name is Hilal,” Hilal answered the receptionist. 

The receptionist started typing at his computer and later said, “unfortunately, your name does not appear on the list of stall-renters today. It has been put on the waiting list as we are operating at full capacity today. I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.” The receptionist explained to Hilal. 

Hilal’s heart sank in his chest. He could not believe that the receptionist so cruelly took away his chance of being reunited with his family, all with the issuing of a generic statement. “How could this happen? I was assured that I can book a stall today!” Hilal exclaimed. 

“Again, I’m sorry for the inconvenience but a lot of people book stalls and we have a limited capacity. I’ll see what I can do for you today but for the time being you have been put on a waiting list. I have to run now as we are about to open,” the receptionist told Hilal .

“Okay, I’m going to wait and see if I can get a stall today,” Hilal said but the receptionist was already rushing out. Hilal was left saddened by the unexpected turn for the worse. 

Meanwhile, Mouneirah had just arrived at the amusement park. She was beaming with confidence at the prospect of seeing her family again. She wanted to find the reunion event in the park, but did not know where it was. Thinking against asking the receptionist, she opted to look at herself and ask others along the way. She bought a ticket and entered the park, rushing towards the end while looking for any sign of a family-reunion event. She saw someone working in a cotton candy stall, and stopped to ask him where the event was placed. 

“Hello, I need your help finding something.” Mouneriah told the fellow working in the cotton candy stall. 

“Hi, what do you need to find,” he replied to Mouneirah. 

“Do you happen to know where the family reunion event is?” Mouneirah asked

“I’m sorry, I don’t know of a family reunion event,” he answered honestly. 

“Really, that’s funny because there was an event advertised today at the Walterby Amusement Park,” Mouneriah told him while showing a picture of the ad she saw. 

“That is funny, it might be set up somewhere today but I have not heard of it. Please have a look around if you like,” he told Mouneirah. Mouneirah thanked him and went looking for the event. 

Just as Mouneirah set off looking for the event herself, Hisham entered the park. He eagerly wanted to find the family reunion event, but was also told he was out of luck, as no one he asked knew of where the event was being held. Nawal shortly followed Hisham, but their paths unfortunately did not cross, as she too was told that no such family reunion event was being held in the amusement park. The place was getting packed, and it was getting harder for them and the family members to see each other. 

As the day progressed, there was no sign that Hilal would get his stall, and that the event would take place. The family kept on missing each other, and their hope of finding their family members today faded. Hilal is left seething at the manager for leading him on about the stall today, but vows not to give up as he calls it a day. His family members also leave as the place closes, and their opportunity passes. 

Chapter 10

Almost  a year has gone by since the family reunion event that never took place. Crushed from the lost chance of finding his family, Hisham was on a work craze trying to figure out what to do next. He was working in his living room and did not want to rely on the police, so he narrowed down his options to a few choices. He would either visit all the places his family and he would go to in Chicago or go on an international quest to find his family in the other parts of the world that they lived in. The more he thought of it the less likely he thought it was that his family were in Chicago. There was a chance that they were drawn here, but what if they were abroad. 

At that point in time, it hit him that Chicago was actually too close to all of their hearts to live anywhere else. Hisham had an inspired thought and decided that his family could also be looking for him, and that the first place they would look in is the family day show. Family Day was just around the corner, so Hisham was thrilled at the prospect of his thought being proven right. He opted to go to the family day show this year in Chicago. 

At that moment in time, Nawal was busy looking on social media, in her house, for her family members. She had no luck in all the major platforms, but continued doing internet searches and things of that nature in order to find her family. She then realized that maybe her family were not moved at the thought of connecting with people ever since the tragic shipwreck. After all, Nawal had only opened her accounts recently in order to look for her family members. It dawned on her that she might be looking in the wrong places. 

Nawal settled on a more traditional route to finding her family members. She asked herself the question, “what would my family do to find me?” It then hit her, what brought her family together more than anything else was the time spent together in events like the family day show. She settled on going to the family day show, to see if her family thought the same and if the family could be reunited there. 

Likewise, Hilal, nestled in the corner of his local library, was initially stumped for ideas, as his plan did not work out as he expected it to. He did not want the failure to pick away at him, though,as he sought to be more optimistic. He kept on wondering where to go to find his family. As he thought of places, he realized that maybe the thing he was avoiding most was the most likely place where he could find his family. Hilal chose then and there to attend the family day show, as he hoped to find his family there.

Mouneirah was, like her family, initially stumped for inspiration. She was in a cafe where she was thinking of ways to see her family. She thought, “maybe I can organize my own search party. That way I can lead a group of people to find my family. We will go to the corners of the Earth for them.” She liked the idea, but was not sure if her search party would fare better than the police. Again, she was back at square one as she thought of pursuing another idea. 

In a flash, Mouneirah remembers all the nice times her family had in the family day show. They would get all dressed up and attend the show with a host of other families in Chicago. If she could buy a ticket, then she was sure she had a chance of seeing her family there again. “What if it was that easy,” Mouneirah thought to herself. Just like that, Mouneiragh decided to go to the family day show and hoped to see her family there.

Chapter 11

It is six pm on the day that each member of the Noor Family has been waiting for in eager anticipation, Family Day. The Noor family were getting ready for the show taking place today, a show which they hoped the other family members would attend. Mouneirah bought a dress for the show, and so did Nawal. Hisham and Hilal purchased tuxedos, as they independently sought to look their best for their potential reunion (operating on the same wavelength as the rest of their family). “I have to look my best for when I see my loved ones again,” Mouneirah thought, capturing the sentiment shared by her husband and children. 

The time was shortly approaching to leave for the show, as the Noor Family, all dressed up, left separately to go to the Family Day Show. They had bought tickets and were to attend the show on their own, but hoping to leave as a unit. On the way there, their excitement for seeing the others grew immeasurably. They were certain that this was their best chance of finding the rest of their family. 

Mouneirah Noor had arrived at the Family Day Show at Chicago City Hall. She made her way to the entrance, where she was stopped by security. 

“May I see your ticket,” the security person asked. 

“Yes, I have it here,” Mounierah replied while handing over a ticket she dug out of her purse. 

“Right this way, Mrs. Noor and may I add you look stunning tonight.” the security person said, paying a compliment to Mouneirah. 

“Thank you,” Mouneirah said with a smile as she entered the building. 

Mouneirah was in the show and she looked around for her family, but the place was packed and they were not in sight. Hisham, Nawal and Hilal did enter the building eventually, but all came at different times. The family members looked around for each other, but could not find the other as time got closer to the start of the show. 

“I would like to ask everyone to find their way to the seats,” a booming voice pierced the hall. It was that of the Master of Ceremony for the night, Ryan River. He was a famous TV personality who must have drawn a lot of people to the show. While others were excited to see him oversee the event, the Noor family thought they must have lost their chance of seeing their family members. They all eventually made their way to their seats, as they all sat in different areas of the hall. 

The show started and the Noor family felt an all too familiar feeling, there were aching gaps in their heart that were only filled with feelings of sadness and despair. As others laughed and gasped at different parts of the show, they could only continue feeling low. The show was drawing to an end when the part they longed for, and dreaded the most, was about to commence. The annual tradition of families being celebrated by their community was about to start. 

Mouneirah could not stand it, as she wanted to leave the auditorium at once. She had every desire to do so but something kept her waiting as Ryan Rivers started calling out names. Hisham felt the same, he wanted to leave but was drawn to the idea of staying. Nawal and Hilal also opted to stay as Ryan continued calling out names. The Noors applauded every family that were called. 

“And now we would like to call the McArthurs to take a stand,” Ryans said exuberantly as the McArthurs stood to be applauded. The Noor Family joined in the applause, as they nervously looked around for their own family members. The show continued and they did not know what was to come of the night, but did not want to give up hope. 

“I would now like to ask the Noors to stand together,” Ryans said as people looked around for the Noor family. Hisham, Mouneirah, Nawal and Hilal could not believe it. How could they overlook the fact that their family name would be called? Does this now mean that they have to stand on their own? “How embarrassing,” Mouneirah thought as she stood in the place of her family. The other family members also stood and for a moment they were all applauded. At the corner of his eye, Hisham could see a beautiful woman in a sparkly, red dress also standing. As he looked at her closely, he started to recognize her. 

“It can’t be!” Hisham exclaimed out loud. He looked around and saw two more people standing as well. Shortly afterwards, Mouneirah, Nawal and Hilal also started noticing the other people standing. The crowd also responded to the family standing apart, and started to cheer them on the move closer together. As the family recognized all their other members, they started to move towards each other. They finally met in the middle of the hall, after fourteen long years apart. 

“I cannot believe it’s really all of you!” Mouneirah shared with her family members, embracing all of them. 

“Yes, it really is us and it is you as well,” Hilal said with a megawatt smile. 

“I missed you all so much,” Hisham told his family members. 

“We cannot ever be separated again.” Nawal said, trying to fight back tears of joy. 

The crowd around them did not stop applauding the family. 

“Now, isn’t this touching, another round of applause for the Noor Family,” said Ryan. 

The Noor family took a bow together, and found four seats close by. They sat and enjoyed the rest of the show with their community, finding a new sense of purpose in life and finally filling the void in their hearts. 

Chapter 12

It was a couple of months after the show, and the Noor Family were out on the porch of their new home. Hisham and Mouneirah bought a house where their family stayed in Chicago. 

“Nawal and Hilal, aren’t you heading to your classes today?” Mouneirah asked their children. Hilal is pursuing his degree in Chemistry, while Nawal went back to school to pursue a Masters degree in Law. They are both doing better in their respective fields, now that they have each other, and their parents, back in their lives. 

“Yes Mom, I am actually about to leave soon,” Nawal said

“Me too, I just need to grab a few things.” Hilal said, as he embraced her on his way out. 

“What about you, Hisham, off to work?” Mouneirah asked her husband.

“Yes dear, another day and another case. What are you going to do today?” Hisham asked Mouneirah. 

“I’m going to pursue my passion in painting, now that I have the desire to paint again.”

“That’s great, I look forward to seeing your finished works.” Hisham hugged his wife on his way out.  

With the Noor family all living together again, their lives took a turn for the better and anything was possible. Circumstances had kept them apart, but fate brought them together. Their goal was to cherish every moment, and ensure that they are never to be separated again. As long as they had each other they would be happy, and lead promising, fulfilling lives. Everything else just played second fiddle to having a family by their side. 

Published by Mahmoud Dualeh

Mahmoud Suleiman Abdi Dualeh is an author, writer and aspiring chartered accountant.

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