My Super-Angel. I knew a 5 feet 4 18-year-old girl… | by SYEDA NAFISA KHAN | Dec, 2021


I knew a 5 feet 4 18-year-old girl stronger than a superhero and kinder than an angel. She broke through all the walls in my body and reached my heart where she built a shelter there to live, nourishing it with love and showering it with care. She had thin curved eyebrows above her beautiful almond eyes topped with double eyelids that reflected her glee and her frustration, and pale pink lips that always let her emotions escape. She never failed to pull me out of the black holes I couldn’t get myself out of, lifting my anchors up to start sailing, and she was never afraid to point out my mistakes if it were for the better of me. Most importantly, she wrestled the wickedness of cancer and continued to fight for another day when factors tied her down. She was different than the others. She went to school with a bald head, and she had no shame in it. Her glowing round face reflected what she felt, and she had no shame in that either. “Always remember to put yourself first; others can wait,” was something she told me again and again. Her name was Jeany.

Jeany was a fighter — stronger than the superheroes we admired when we were four. Nevertheless, her courage was not enough. This is reality; there is no such thing as the God of Poseidon or Avengers possessing special powers that can save millions. Her story did not end with the happy endings we see in fairytales. Her courage was not enough to stop the villain from attacking, to stop God from taking her away to a faraway paradise called Heaven.

Like other superheroes, Jeany had a mission to accomplish. No matter how bitter the herbs tasted or the agony chemotherapy brought, she did everything to prevent the worrying circles that hung around her mother’s eyes. She faked a smile in front of us after she discovered that her cancer had spread, her heart pressed down by a million rocks. From the words of her mom, I knew that Jeany was lost, like a child looking for her mother in the supermarket, but she never stopped smiling. “I’m okay” and “I’m getting better” always slipped out from her mouth along with a comforting smile. Despite the weekly doctor appointments she had to drag her legs into and exhausting chemotherapy sessions that involved endless needles that led her to crouch in front of the toilet bowl, she never let out a sigh or frown. Today, vivid pictures of her contagious smile with her corn-like teeth emerge in our minds whenever we think of her, instead of tears and heartbreak. Even when we have a sleepover now, we still save space for her.

She came to school concealing the pain she went through. The corners of her lips rose and her black pupils twinkled whenever she saw us, a treasure she used millions of locks to secure. I never had the chance for tears to break free from my eyes; she wrapped her hand around my back with all her strength and heart while placing my head against her chest, slowing my heartbeat down every time my nose reddened on the verge of tears. She knew the route to every destination and never stopped directing me through the rock journies, like a lighthouse beaming in the pitch-black night. She always knew what to say at the right time; they were spells that latched a rope around me when I fell, the hand that tightly held onto mine as my legs dangled from the edge of a boundless cliff.

The inevitable frowns on her face told us immediately when we did something wrong, not forgetting her unstoppable nagging that followed. Despite how straightforward she was, she was a true gem. Without second-guessing, she confronted those who broke her friends’ hearts or ones who did not appreciate her friends as she did. She had goals she aimed to accomplish and one of them was to recover. When I rushed to the hospital to see Jeany before her heartbeat stopped forever, my fear of losing her spoke louder than ever. Her wide-opened mouth tried to reply every time I spoke but failed. She stared at me with her eyes frightened, fearful, and lost. I could hear her silently screaming, “I want to keep breathing.” even when every breath she took was suffocating. I saw the disappointment in her heavy eyes whenever she failed to speak, even so, she kept breathing, like a tug of war against evil. She was an onion, peeled layer by layer by microscopic criminals. This time, she lost.

In an interview, Jeany said, “I want to earn a lot of money so that I can bring my mother to travel and donate to the refugee children.” Her selfless wish made her the protagonist and loving mother God had assigned to all of our stories, even to the people she had never met. Salty tears uncontrollably left traces down my cheeks during her funeral when she mentioned in the interview, “Life is a story, and when I look back at mine, I know I don’t have any regrets.” Yet there she was, lying still on her bed with her eyes closed in her favorite olive green shirt, taking a never-ending nap free from torture.

Her story may have reached the end but her spirit continues to live. Twenty years down the road, I will be proud to tell my children that I once knew a real-life superhero and angel who saved more than the world itself; she was a legend on Earth. May your legacy never die, my super-angel.

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