Abu Dhabi: For Omar Ahmad, his mother’s is a story of hope never lost.
“Till today, the doctors do not believe that my mother understands what is going on around her. Even now, they tell me that she will never regain a semblance of a normal life. But I can see that she understands, that she is conscious. And she can get even better, with belief and the right kind of treatment,” the 32-year-old Emirati told Gulf News.
The story of Ahmad’s mother, Munira Abdullah, has been making headlines around the world. Her family claims that the 60-year-old has finally come out of a coma, or ‘state of low consciousness’, after 27 years.
According to Ahmad, his mother had been accompanying him to an afternoon event at his school in Al Ain when a bus rammed into their car.
“The next thing I knew, I was in a hospital and no one would tell me where my mother was. When I eventually saw her a few days later, I couldn’t recognise her. She had no smile and no laughter, and was barely a shadow of herself,” Ahmad remembers.
But there is not much else that he can say about what happened on that fateful day.
He remembers that an uncle had been driving them, and that he had sustained injuries. Ahmad himself has a scar from the day, so he says he must have been injured too. More importantly though, his life since then has revolved around taking care of his mother.
“There were no mobile phones back then, and I know my mother did not get medical attention for hours. She was in a vegetative state initially, and received care at Al Ain Hospital. She was also taken to the United Kingdom for treatment. Gradually, over the years, she moved into a state of low consciousness,” Ahmad says.
Still, Abdullah never spoke, and medical reports say she could not really communicate with her gaze either.
“My mother was very frail, and long years of being bedridden meant that her muscles weakened. But we didn’t give up,” Ahmad says.
In 2017, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court sent Abdullah to Germany for treatment.
“I cannot say that the doctors were optimistic about her. Instead, they said we could only try to improve her quality of life,” Ahmad says.
Then, a week before they were due to return to the UAE, Ahmad heard someone calling out his name at night.
“I have always slept in the same room as my mother, and I remember it was a night in Ramadan. I had just gone to bed when I heard someone calling me. I looked around and couldn’t find anyone. Then I heard my name again, and again. I even walked out of the room to see if someone was around. Then I struck me that it had been my mother,” Ahmad narrated.
He remembers not knowing what to do next.
“She had been emitting a low groan for a few days after her medications had been changed, and I was worried that she was in pain. But perhaps she was just trying to speak,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad returned to the UAE with his mother who is admitted to a rehabilitation facility in the capital. After work, Ahmad returns to his mother’s room every day. He says his mother recites the Quran with him, and can respond when asked questions. She has movement in her hands, but it is still limited.
“She still cannot speak well, but who would be able to after not having spoken for more than two decades? I believe she still needs extensive therapy,” he explains.
In the meantime, he shares little clips of his mother with his two younger sisters, 64-year-old father and extended family.
“Everyone knows my mother’s story now, so the responsibility of her wellbeing is on me, and it is even greater. I will keep trying to ensure that she always gets the best possible care,” Ahmad says.
The family declined to be photographed.