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32

First day at the hospital:

Lizzy:

When Sandra and Sister Nur left the reception room, and I had signed all the documents, another sister entered the room.

"This is Sister Banu, she will take care of you from now on, Lizzy," said Fatima.

"Welcome to our clinic, so please follow me, Dr. al Gossarah is waiting for you," Banu greeted me.

" Remember to be silent when we leave the reception!" I nodded and followed her. We had to go to the top floor, and Banu whispered,

"Can you go upstairs with your handicap? I nodded again. I saw a sign for an elevator on the right side of the corridor, but Banu walked past it, and we entered the stairwell. I had to follow her up to seven floors. On the hard track, I needed a little break on the fourth floor.

"Until you are well again, we will climb many more stairs together, the elevators are reserved for the doctors and should only be used by us in emergencies," she whispered. I nodded as usual and was silent to save breath. Finally, we had reached our goal and stood in front of a solid oak door. Banu pressed the doorknob three times. Then she pushed me to the wall with her face, stood next to me and then we waited. After a felt eternity the opener rattled, and Banu pressed the door open, and we stepped in. Room? That was a vast understatement. It was huge and furnished at its finest: a dream of 'a thousand and one nights'. Right next to the door there were pillows on which I had to kneel, and again it meant: wait. In the end, a somewhat overweight little man entered the room.

"Welcome, Lizzy! I am Dr Halim al Gossarah and your attending doctor," he said. "Today I will first have an informative talk. The subject is very complex, so please listen to me carefully. Sister Banu is a doctor. She will answer your questions later." Then followed a fundamental explanation for me - but certainly not for you, dear reader - of the planned treatments.

"That would be it for the first time from my side. Sister Banu will now take over the preliminary examinations. I'll see you tomorrow." He left, and I quickly rose and followed Sister Banu into her examination room. She completely upended me, and in the end, I was all done and longing for a bed. Sandra: It was a lovely afternoon. The sisters and the patients very warmly welcomed me. After I got something to drink and to eat from them, we had extensive conversations. I learnt that one could be treated with experimental medicine at one's request. But what exactly that meant, they didn't want to or couldn't tell me. When I asked them questions, they referred me to the doctors who were living with us in the women's wing, although they were not available until late because we were on duty till late in the evening. Finally, Lizzy arrived accompanied by her doctor Banu. I prepared something to eat for them in the kitchen. She was exhausted, ate some bites, drank her tea and went to bed. It was a long day, and I followed her example. It was a strange feeling to go to sleep without my Lizzy, but strangely I wasn't lonely at all but slept deep until I was woken up to the morning prayer over loudspeakers at five o'clock. I became horrified to realise that I was woken up here so early every morning. Inshallah! After worship, my door was knocked, and Lizzy stood in front of me. After a little orgy of greeting, we went together to have breakfast in the communal kitchen. And the women were already waiting for us and had covered for all of us. As newcomers, we were bombarded with questions, so that we hardly had time to eat. Then it was half past seven and Banu urged Lizzy to get up:

"We still have to finish some tests, because Dr. al Gossarah wants to evaluate the examinations by noon today to make a healing plan for you as soon as possible". And gone was my Lizzy. The standard room gradually emptied itself. Except for a young woman. She came to me and said:

"Salam aleikum, sister, I'm Iman, and you're certainly Sandra, Lizzie's girlfriend?"

"Wa aleikum Salam, Iman! Yes, I am Sandra, and I feel rather redundant," I said.

"Listen! We are in a clinic here, and any helping hand who is not afraid of decent work is welcome. I'm assigned to bed-making today, and maybe you'd like to help me?"

"Great, I'd love to help you," I said with honest enthusiasm. "To be honest, you'll soon realise how incapable I am of housework. I am an intellectual who was never needed."

"Don't worry, soon you will be as perfect as I am in all these things," she said and looked at me with a strange smile. She gave me sterile clinic clothes. It was a floor-length green abaya with niqab and gloves of the same colour. A look in the mirror was enough for me:

"Are we a plague of locusts now? Iman almost got a laugh and said:

"Praise be to Allah! At last a sister with a sense of humour! Nevertheless, think of our silent command outside the women's wing." Then my first working day in the hospital began, and it should not be my last. Soon I should know that I had found my destiny and happiness here.

A month later:

Lizzy:

"I'm almost healed, and I feel amazing!" I said to Sandra. It was funny, but we've hardly seen each other since we've been here and rarely spoken.

"It's like we're still going the same way, just not hand in hand anymore, but with distance and we' re very comfortable," Sandra said. At first, this put a stab in my heart. But my friend was right, we had lived apart. The last thing we did together was our common Shahada. Sandra, who now called herself Saida, now worked as an assistant in the clinic. We had to say goodbye because I was going home without Sandra-Saida. She said:

"I found my way, and I would like to work here forever. I asked the Brotherhood for me to give myself to a good, devout man for his wife. He' s a male nurse and on Friday the wedding takes place."

"I would like to wish you all the best Saida, and I shall never forget the wonderful years together with you. May Allah bless you for all that you have done for Jenny and me". The last time we ought to have been crying in each other's arms.

"Dear Safiye! - she called me by my new name - I also thank you for our beautiful time, you and Jenny will always have a place in my heart".

Banu then accompanied me to my last treatment, one that will change all for me. Banu was excellent support for me over time. The next day I got into the back of his car to follow my husband Dr. al Gossarah to Duisburg. After three weeks of treatment with him and enthusiastic about the healing successes by him, full of gratitude to Allah, I spoke my Shahada, and he then asked me:

"Safiye, do you want to be my third wife?" At first, I was a little dismayed. To marry al Gosarah, a man twenty years older? As his third wife?

"Do not answer me yet; take your time before you decide. I will tell you what I expect from you as my wife. You have to submit to my family unconditionally. You should be treated the same way as my other wives. I will cut your vocal cords as they did so that you never disturb a man with your voice in his devotions. My wives live in strict Purdah. You may not show yourself to anyone anymore, and you have to disguise yourself around the clock, even at night. If you are willing, you have the honour to become my third wife and to give me sons. I will expect an answer from you tomorrow."

Then he let me stand, and I was perplexed. I had caught myself already dreaming of him being my husband. And now he asked me to become his wife. But it scared me to live in Purdah. I went to Banu to pronounce myself.

"Banu, what am I going to do? I dreamt of becoming his wife, but forever being a dumb half blind black ghost, without a name, just a number. I don't know whether I can do this!"

" You overthink! Put your trust in Allah, and he will always accompany you and satisfy your destiny. Allah sent you this man, so obey!" she said strictly. She was right! In my new life as a Salafist, I had to bow to the wisdom of Dr. al Gossarah. I had to follow my heart and become his third wife.

So now I was sitting in the back of his car. A mute, half blind black ghost on the way to his old home in Duisburg, where my master wants to open a new clinic.

The paths to Allah sometimes are strange. I had to travel to Berlin to find my destiny and happiness at home.