I used to always watch her from the examination room window in the government hospital that I worked at.
Her name was Sokkara. She was young. She couldn’t be older than 13 years old.
As soon as the cars stopped at the traffic light, she’d grab the yellow towel,
Wiping with one hand while holding tissues in the other.
In a loud voice, she’d call out: “Tissues, sir. Tissues, sir!
Tissues, ma’am! I’ll make your window shine.
Safe travels, sir.”
There were always a lot of boys and girls that looked like her and cats around her all day, and she’d share what little food she had with them.
The place where she stood was named after her.
She became well-known among those who frequented the street.
One day, Sokkara disappeared, and no one knew where she had gone.
One day turned into a month, and one month turned into several months.
Until one unlucky day came and I saw her again.
It was my shift at the hospital when I heard yelling and fighting in the reception area.
I quickly left my office and found Sokkara on the ground, screaming in pain:
“Admit me, I’m giving birth, I’m going to die, admit me!”
The nurses were yelling at her and wanted to kick her out of the hospital.
I grabbed her. “She’s not going anywhere! Where would she go? She’ll die.”
Our yelling brought Dr. Khaled out of his office.
I tried to get him to sympathize with her and allow her to be admitted.
He looked at me with utter disgust and said:
“Don’t you know where these types come from?
Girls like her can ruin us.
Don’t you see that she’s a minor?
You know what, I’m not letting anyone interrogate me about this.
If we admit her, then she’ll be your responsibility, and you’ll have to sign a paper saying that.
Else she can get out of here and give birth the same way that she became pregnant, in the streets.
I signed the papers and admitted her into the operation room as she held my hand, screaming in pain.
Dr. Khaled entered where we were and asked:
“Are you married, girl?”
Sokkara didn’t reply.
He repeated the question to her, and once again, she didn’t reply.
Then with the most cruelty I had ever seen in my life, he told her:
“Of course, girls like you know nothing about marriage. Hurry up and open your legs, you animal.”
Out of shock, I had no idea how to reply.
I didn’t know how to defend her.
After I made sure that she and her daughter were fine,
I went home that night with so many questions about her and kids like her on my mind,
Until I found myself at the place I always used to see her at.
I saw her cats, and the children who looked like her still cleaning the cars and selling tissues.
And I found another girl that looked like her, standing in the middle of the street calling out,
“Tissues, sir. Tissues, sir.