Friday 20 Sept – Saturday 21 Sept 2013
On Friday morning (which is the equivalent of Saturday morning here, because in Islamic countries, as opposed to Christian ones, the weekend is Friday/Saturday), I woke up at 9am to ten-year-old Akmal, clamoring that we needed to leave for our quad-biking expedition in the sand dunes near our house. I had made a very scrumptious (if I do say so myself) multi-berry pie (I missed my Lou’s birthday pie, what can I say) the night before, so he and I ate pie, some defrosted chicken nuggets and Nescafé for breakfast.
I burned two “Oman Jams” cds to put in my newly-rented Mazda 3 (wahoo!!!) and we set off to pick up Ahmed and then go quad-biking. Even Zuzana, the Slovakian woman (about my age) who lives with us, agreed to come, despite her better judgment (“I’ll just take the pictures”).
When the four of us arrived at the dunes, which – by the way – are basically just medium-sized mountain ranges of sand, Akmal and I paid, each got on a four-wheel contraption (kind of a cross-between a dirt bike and a Gator, I guess), figured out how the speed worked, and sped off into the dunes. These “bikes” are very unstable, and of course there were not helmets available, but I guess I was enamored by the initial speed, the chase of the 10-year-old shredding tidal waves of side ahead of me, and the rush of climbing higher and higher into the dunes at nearly 60 miles per hour. I sped after Akmal.
I woke up inside a CT Scan machine at Muscat Private Hospital around 3pm (we’d gone quad-biking around 11am). There are a number of stories that I gradually pieced together regarding what happened, although obviously I cannot corroborate any of them. Similarly, most of them were told to me that first day, or even the next day, when my brain was not really registering any information provided to it…so the first few times people told me I didn’t even remember what they had told me had happened.
Oh and I also found a bunch of pictures Ahmed took of me crushed beneath the vehicle etc. on my camera. Unfortunately because it was high noon in the middle of the Arabian desert, the photos are completely white, 100% over-exposed. You can see almost nothing, even with all the darkening editing I could manage through my concussion on the despicable beast that is Photoshop (Lightroom is much less evil, I promise).
Anyway, evidently I either 1) went downhill too fast/sooner than I expected on the steepest dune in the whole area and the bike flipped over me a couple times and we rolled down the hill together and it landed on top of me or 2) I hit a tree (no one can explain why there was a tree in the middle of the desert sand dunes, so I’m tempted to dismiss this particular theory, although it’s arguably the leader contender so who knows), the tree split in half, hit me in the head and the bike landed on top of me. Either way, I awoke with a very swollen brain and bruises and cuts all over my body.
It was fortunate that Zuzana had come with us to quad-biking, because apparently when this happened she and the two boys came running to me, carried me to the car and Zuzana drove us all home in my car. Supposedly when we got there she and Maliha helped me shower and change clothes (I did wake up in different clothes, I can confirm that part, although I think I still have sand in my ears and it’s been three days because Mary told me to avoid screens). Then I was taken to the hospital, got a CT scan and had a lot of people stare at my cuts and bruises (it felt like) and came home and ate fried noodles.
The only other thing I remember is that when I was lying on the hospital bed, Ahmed (the older brother) came in and sat down and talked to me. He asked me a lot of questions, probably personal ones, for all I know, but all I remember is that right before he left he said, “Don’t worry, you won’t remember this conversation ever happened. I was talking to your subconscious.” And I said, “Of course I’ll remember,” knowing full well that if Boy Genius said it, it was of course correct. I have no idea what he asked me. I wouldn’t have remembered him coming in at all, except that I was determined, and forced myself in that moment to remember his final comment so that I might ask him about it later. He has, so far, been very deflective of my inquiries. He’s a 15-year-old boy. So it goes.