9 weeks since my last post. So much has happened it’s impossible to try and go back and recount it in any detail. A quick summary would be: finished the animation course (in quite the way I always wanted to), got my first paying work from my New Skills (yaaay!), left home and am now residing temporarily with my sister in neighbouring country (still not sure how I feel about that).
The odd thing is that despite the fact that I only arrived here a week ago, it feels like I’ve been here all my life. The past fades away too fast in my mind, which is perhaps why I cling to my memories so jealously sometimes. It’s so easy for me to just shut a door and never remember it existed, let alone what was behind it. I don’t think I had this habit before; I developed it over time to make things easier to handle. I don’t like it anymore. Especially with all the things I’m collecting here…
We’ve done so much in the past few days. Almost like an Experience-A-Day adventure! But the past three days have been the ones that stuck in my mind, with 4 different incidents, each of which brought one set of thoughts consistently to mind: futility, mortality and the fragility of our hopes.
I. Garden of Graves
We went to a cemetery. It’s recommended in Islam to do that regularly, but back home we hardly ever do because of the location of the graveyard. Here it’s a Sunday routine. There were graves of family members I have only heard of in stories, or people famous for their works in society. All in the same place, all together, no difference in one covered 6-foot hole from another. There were tiny plots for babies, and one grave was a profusion of red and pink flowers, for a young girl who passed away from an illness. The flowers celebrated her life, and yet were tinged with the hue of her parent’s pain.
It felt eerie, in the middle of the morning, under the bright sun to be thinking of the people – not bodies – PEOPLE, who were sleeping there. I wanted to talk to some of them, maybe wait for an answer, but I’d need to be alone to do that and I wasn’t.
The greeting at the entrance sets you firmly in the state of mind you need to be in. It sends Salaam (peace) on the rotten bones and flesh that lie in the graves, and on the souls that believed in One God. In one breath, you are made aware of what part of you is Transient and Illusionary and what is Eternal and Real.
Maybe that’s why we are so familiar with Death and why it doesn’t seem odd to talk about it and explore with fascination, because we are exposed to its reality from such a young age. I will be in one of those graves in some part of the world one day. What will I be doing when others come to visit me? What have I got to take with me for that home?
II. Footprints in the Sand
From the cemetery, we went to the beach. Yup. That’s right. And really, it was the perfect balance. To go from that reality and then stand on the shores of the World. Truly, I think you can only understand and appreciate the greatness of God when you stand at the peak of a mountain or the edge of the sea.
Just at the edge of the reef that led down to the shore the sand was littered with abandoned slippers. Yellow, pink, purple, green, blue – all lone pieces, each one with a story of separation from its mate if only someone could hear them.
Further down, the tide was out and the sand was gold, wet and warm. There were shallow pools of clear water and little moss gardens that felt like soft, soft pelt under my soles. And I even saw tiny fish darting about (yes, they do ‘dart’).
The perfection of it all was painful. And yet, above and beyond that was a sense of age. This has been there, unchanging for centuries. And we were there simply enjoying a moment in its lifetime. How many others had splashed delightedly in those waters? How many millions had left footprints in that sand? How many had laughed, and fallen in love, cried and broken their hearts on that shore? And how many had faded away from the beach front and taken up permanent residence in the garden I had just left a few minutes before?
It makes everything so much less dramatic and so much more valuable.
[ Come back in a couple of days for III. The Klassy KaKa and IV. What Does Her Heart Hide? 🙂 ]