I rock Geddo’s pink recliner back and forth as I watch my brothers Yasseen and Moaz playing Fifa with my cousin Kareem on the PlayStation. Mom, dad, my two aunts, Teta and Geddo are surrounding my newborn sister Fatima in the dining room.
I hate having a sister. The thought crosses my mind.
Geddo rolls in the room in his squeaky wheelchair. I notice the wrinkles on his face have multiplied since the last time I saw him. He is only 69 years old, but for the past year alone, he has aged like 20 years.
“Habeebti ya roh Geddo, come give Geddo a kiss,” he opens his arms wide so I run towards him and climb onto his lap.
“You know, you are still my favorite,” he whispers in my ear. I smile.
I position myself on his leg careful not to press on his bandaged knee. I circle my arms around his neck, and I press my lips against his beardless cheek. Cigarette smell fills my nose.
Geddo is a heavy smoker, and he had just come back from Germany a few days ago where he had his leg amputated. They told him that if he continues to smoke regularly, he’d be losing much more than a leg, but he didn’t seem to care.
“Life’s too short not to enjoy a cigarette… or ten on your front porch,” I heard him say to Teta once following one of her recurring lectures.
“Ahh you’re getting heavy, you’re eating all the kebbeh aren’t you?” he rubs my tummy.
“That tickles.” I giggle.
“Oh yeah? How about here, and here, and here?” he starts poking me all over.
“Stop it, that really tickles.” I wiggle around in his lap.
“Ahhhh!” he lets out a long cry. Mama, Baba, Teta and my aunt Fadia storm into the room.
“Zahira, get off!” Teta screams.
“Don’t you know your grandpa is recovering from surgery? You can’t play around on his wheelchair!” Baba exclaims while he carries me off Geddo’s lap.
I pace out of the room dodging aunt Fadia’s disappointed looks. I slip past Fatima as she shrieks in her child seat, then I go into Geddo and Teta’s bedroom and I slam the door behind me. I jump onto their bed, and bury my head in Geddo’s pillow. My tears water the flowers on the pillowcase.
I hear knocking on the door so I pull onto my shirt to wipe my tears. Geddo drives his wheelchair into the room, the sunlight creeping from the window shines against his baldhead.
“Habeebti ya Geddo, come here,” he motions to me.
I drag my feet across the marble floor, curling my lower lip and fixing my gaze on the floor. I stand beside his wheelchair.
“I’m…I’m so sorry Geddo,” I sniffle, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Awh habeebti you didn’t hurt me, the cigarettes did,” he strokes my cheek. “Anyhow, I have a surprise for you but I need your help in getting it.
“Open the closet, then grab that stool and stand on it.”
I swing the closet door open, I throw the piles of clothes from the stool onto the bed, and then I drag the stool under the closet and begin to climb it.
“Be careful now so you don’t fall! And don’t tell your parents, they’ll kill me!” He lowers his voice.
I reach for the plastic bag hidden in the middle shelf.
“I’ve been saving these for you since before my trip to Germany, I just never got the chance to give them to you.”
I peek into the bag. My eyes twinkle. Mars, Snickers, Bounty, and LOTS of Twix. All the fancy chocolate that is too expensive to buy in Syria.
Geddo has Diabetes, so he always reserves the chocolate he gets at family gatherings for me.
“Thank you Geddo, I love you,” I hug him tightly.
“Oh you are very welcome,” he kisses my forehead. “I love you most.”
Geddo reaches inside the bag and takes out 3 chocolate bars.
“Now give one to Yasseen, one to Moaz, and one to Kareem, but keep the rest hidden all to yourself! Deal?”
“Deal!” I grin at the heavy bag I hold in my arms.
3 weeks later, I eat chocolate at Geddo’s funeral.