but she must have passed on this exchange to the restof the family because I was questioned about it in adiscreet way, by Safdah Shah.He came twice a month and stayed a day or so, tocheck the handling of the household matters, and tosee how I was. My sister Anis came every month, andSamina came as often as she could from Rawalpindi,when she would stay a few days. Never was a sister sowatched over, and yet so lonely.Safdar Shah picked up the Urdu Quran:"I am glad to see that you are still faithful to yourreligion Gulshan. Have you given up reading this inArabic, as Father taught you?""No Brother, I read both in my routine. I read Arabicin the morning and Urdu at night. I want to find outmore about its meaning."He was happy at that. "Good, it is quite all right foryou to read both, but don't give up reading the Arabic."And he left under the impression I was burrowing everdeeper into Islam."By Allah's leave I shall give sight to the blind man,heal the leper, and raise the dead to life."For years I had read the Holy Quran devotedly andprayed regularly, but I had gradually lost all hope thatmy condition would change. Now, however, I began to
believe that what was written about Jesus was true that he did miracles, was aliveand that he could heal
me."Oh Jesus, son of Mary, it says in the Holy Quranthat you have raised the dead and healed the lepers anddone miracles. So heal me too." As I prayed this prayermy hopes grew stronger. It was strange, because inyears of Muslim praying I had never felt certain that Icould be healed. I took my beads, which I had broughtfrom Mecca and prayed a Bismillah after each prayer,and then I added after each prayer, "Oh Jesus, Son of Maryam, heal me."Gradually, my praying changed until I was prayingover and over between prayer times, on each bead, "Oh Jesus, Son of Maryam, heal me." The more I prayed,the more I was drawn to this shadowy, secondaryfigure in the Holy Quran, who had power thatMohammed himself never claimed. Where was itwritten that Mohammed healed the sick and raised thedead?"If only I could talk to someone," I sighed, but therewas no one. I went on praying therefore to this prophet Jesus, until there should be more light given.I had awakened at 3 am as usual, and I was sitting upin my bed reading verses I now knew by heart. Even asI took in the words, my heart was saying its litany, "Oh Jesus, Son of Maryam, heal me." Then suddenly Istopped and I said aloud the thought that had beenforcing itself into my brain:"I've been doing this for so long and I'm still acripple."I could hear the slow movements of someone gettingup to prepare the water for washing, before morningprayer. In a short time Aunty would be in to see me.Even as I was registering that, my thoughts werefocusing in an urgent way on my problem. Why hadn'tI been healed, though I'd prayed for three years?"Look you are alive in heaven, and it says in the HolyQuran about you that you have healed people. You canheal me, and yet I'm still a cripple."
Gradually, my praying changed until I waspraying over and over between prayertimes, on each bead, "Oh Jesus, Son of Maryam, heal me." The more I prayed, themore I was drawn to this shadowy,secondary figure in the Holy Quran.
Why was there no answer, only this stony silence inthe room, that mocked my prayers?I said his name again, and pleaded my case, indespair. Still there was no answer. Then I cried out in a
fever of pain, "If you are able to, heal meotherwise
tell me." I could go no further along this road.What happened next is something that I find hard toput into words. I know that the whole room filled withlight. At first I thought it was from my reading lampbeside the bed. Then I saw that its light looked dim.Perhaps it was the dawn? But it was too early for that. The light was growing, growing in brightness, until itsurpassed the day. I covered myself with my shawl. Iwas so frightened. Then the thought occurred to me that it might be thegardener, who had switched on the light outside toshine on the trees. He did this sometimes to preventthieves when the mangos were ripe, or to see to thewatering in the cool of the night.I came out from my shawl to look. But the doors andwindows were fast shut, with curtains and shuttersdrawn. I then became aware of figures in long robes,standing in the midst of the light, some feet from mybed. There were 12 figures in a row and the figure inthe middle, the thirteenth, was larger and brighter thanthe others."Oh God," I cried and the perspiration broke out onmy forehead. I bowed my head and I prayed. "Oh God,who are these people, and how have they come herewhen all the windows and doors are shut?"Suddenly a voice said, "Get up. This is the path youhave been seeking. I am Jesus, Son of Mary, to whomyou have been praying, and now I am standing in frontof you. You get up and come to me."I started to weep. "Oh Jesus, I'm crippled. I can't getup."He said "Stand up and come to me. I am Jesus."When I hesitated he said it a second time. Then as Istill doubted he said for the third time, "Stand up."And I, Gulshan Fatima, who had been crippled on my