Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Short Visit

The cars drove slowly into the dusty parking area that lay adjacent to the small, humble, cemetery. As they came to a stop, the passengers of both cars got out slowly, stretching their legs after the long journey from Damascus. From the first car, a man, his wife and their four year old daughter walked slowly towards the graves. Their son stayed in the car, not wanting to join them. The father looked back, and from the other car a woman and her two sons were catching up with them. 

The sun was shining and the sky was a clear blue; not a cloud in sight. It was still around midday, and as the group walked, the father pointed out one grave in particular.

“That’s it”, he pointed out; he wore sunglasses to deliberately mask the emotion his voice now betrayed.
The first woman began to cry, mumbling a few short prayers beneath her breath as she caught sight of the tombstone. The daughter clung to her father’s leg, not saying a word. The other woman stayed a bit stronger, her enormous sunglasses hiding her red and teary eyes. She had already cried enough when the occupant of that grave had passed away in front of her. Her two sons, young men, also tried their bravest not to cry, and approached the grave to read what was written. It was a simple grave, the flowers on it already wilting under the hot Syrian sun, and the headstone simply read: “Here lies the forgiven M, who entered the fold of her lord’s mercy in the year 2011, the equivalent of 1430 in the Muslim calendar – may God have mercy on her soul”. She had been born in 1936. The men stood near the grave, and all the adults in the group raised their hands in a joint prayer for the dead woman’s soul, silently mouthing the familiar words that are recited whenever a person dies. 

The little girl continued to stare at them. She did not, as a child might be expected to, ask what they were doing there, or who was buried there. She knew that her grandmother had died, even though nobody had told her. Children are usually far more alert and intelligent than adults give them credit for, although at that moment, nobody would or could have suspected what might be going through her young mind in that particular moment. Her mother asked her to come near, to put a flower on Tete’s grave. The girl shrugged her shoulders and just stared at the ground in front of her, drawing imaginary circles with her foot.

As they drove away later, none of them imagined that within weeks their lives would forever be changed by events that had started from faraway and were closing in on them. They say that a person's death reflects their character, and the death of this grandmother had - for want of a better word - gone smoothly and with a minimum of inconvenience for her family. From her brief illness and quick death to the ease with which they were able to find a grave - one that they could afford - some of her children commented that this was just the way she would have wanted it to be, to have never inconvenienced those around her whom she loved. In her room, a simple ruznameh lay undisturbed since the day she passed away.


Brett Weer said...

Thanks for your post. We put it into our blog roundup today.


IK said...

Brought tears to my eyes; this is just how my tete died. Right before the worst of everything came upon the Syrian people.