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Monday, 15 November 2010

People's Good Prayers (Du'a-ye Kheir)

Since the latest entry, my back condition has been improving slowly; on some days I feel better than others, and generally I need to rest more than usual, but on the whole it’s been a great improvement from the excruciating pain of three weeks ago. After a rough night during which I stayed up with leg pain, I received a telephone call from a friend, a female theologian I met last year when I attended her class on religious rulings. She was in Mashhad, visiting the shrine of the Holy Imam Reza; she knew that I had been unwell and rang to say that she was in the courtyard of the shrine facing the golden dome, waiting for the call to prayer and praying for my health. Then she told me to say a prayer myself and turned her handset towards the shrine.

I have only been to four or five of her sessions, and seen her maybe another two or three times, but she had the kindness to think of me in my pain. When people ask me (quite often) why I left England to come and live here, I think that it is these little thins that matter in my life among the Iranians.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Up for Air

This time I have broken all records: I've been away from the blog, and, I feel, lost to normal life, for four whole weeks.

On the Friday after the wedding described on the previous blog, I got a pain down my left leg, as I have had before on a couple of occasions previously. I thought it would get better in a couple of days and I carried on with normal life, although I missed my Arabic class on Saturday morning, just in case. On the Tuesday, I taught my English class, but by the evening the pain was almost unbearable. Contrary to expectations, it kept getting worse.

My GP prescribed three days of complete bed rest and strong painkillers, but after three days it was getting worse. Another three days of complete rest brought no result: I was only able to sleep on my right side in the embryonic position; getting up brought excruciating pain. Eventually I went for an MRI test: nothing much, except "evidence of disc regeneration at several vertebrae, a slipped disc lower down bringing pressure on the leg nerve." (Otherwise all right? as Basil Fawlty would say).

To cut a long story short, another fourteen days of complete bed resulted in four weeks of total disruption of normal life. Classes cancelled, sisters-in law pitched in to cook after hubby left for London twelve days ago. Only in the last couple of days have I been able to stay up a little longer and do bits and pieces around the house.

The silver lining, though, has been that I've been able to catch up with a lot of reading I've been meaning to do for a long, long time but I never had the chance. Starting from the classics (Northanger Abbey), I moved through Graham Swift (Waterland, Out of This World, Last orders), A S Byatt's Possession, Tracy Chevalier's The Virgin Blue, Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Irene Nemirovski’s Suite Francaise. I also revisited my E M Forster favourites A Room With A View and A Passage to India, as well as Umberot Eco’s The Name of the Rose.
I stopped short of War and Peace, which I am saving for another crisis.