My first recollection of death was when I attended the funeral of a distant uncle who was assassinated. The entire estate was full of mourners. I felt restless; ennui and pins-and -needles from sitting crossed legged on the floor in a room full of mourning women. I discreetly left the room and watched from the stairs; a sea full of men clad in white around a seemingly corpulent man, festooned with a garland of flowers around his neck and cotton wool plugged in his nasal passages. It was a strange sight indeed!

The next I witnessed death was 7 years past, where dispassion was replaced by horror as I watched my frail grandmother battle death; her face twitching and her breathing increasingly difficult tills the final expiration where she lie entirely still and unresponsive. The house reverberated from the hysterical mourning of my aunt, mother and family members; who were in vain attempting to detach my aunt who latched onto her mother’s feet.

The sound of the Magrib athan (evening call to prayer) and the authoritative voice of my uncle were effective in dissipating the servants and children to the second floor.

 Funeral rites such as washing the body, recitation of the Koran, prayer for the dead and burial were executed timely (within 24 hours) in accordance to Islamic law. Subsequent to the Imam (priest) leading the prayer (negate bowing or prostrating on the ground), recitations of the Koran, animal sacrifices, giving charity to orphanages and feeding the poor. My grandmother was carried on the shoulders of her two sons’ and two remaining brothers to the burial site shrouded in a kafan (white sheet). This will forever be embossed in my memory.

No headstone or epitaph was erected to commemorate the life of my grandmother; a bamboo fence encircles the place where she now rests (It’s against Islamic law to embellish a grave).  A woman of noble birth, wealthy and greatly revered, her grave is as inconspicuous as that of the lowest common denominator. My grandfather died 6 months later, alone in his estate; none held his hand nor spoke comforting words or heard him promulgate (La-illa-ha-ill-lal-iah Muhammad-ur-Rasul-Allah) as he departed this world. His heirs and heiress were well provided, yet a great feud ensued due to his incomplete Will (most ironic as he was a Judge). He now rests next to my Grandmother, his stately house vacant and showing signs of dilapidation, to which his sons are apathetic.

I fear death, not in the sense of inane paranoia (haunted by images of being buried prematurely or suttee- where Hindu brides were forcibly burned in the funeral pyre of her husband) as the act of dying is such a short time, I dislike the irrevocability and the turbulence of death regardless of how seemingly peaceful the departure is.

My fear is selfish; the anonymity and rapid extinction from the hearts and minds of my successors as I will sink further into the grave. Should I attempt to immortalize myself in writing, works of art and leaving behind heirs like our predecessors or perhaps erect a grandiose monument at my resting place or even turn to cryogenics (lmao)? It’s an immutable law of the universe; you shall recede to nothingness regardless of how illustrious a life lived.

I fear meeting my Creator and give account of the way I lead my life but foremost I fear not smelling the incense of the gardens of paradise from a life marred with sin. 

umathena umathena
18-21, F
1 Response Jul 14, 2007

my fears as well - ALL of them you wrote about. wish i could provide you something calming ... i'm blank. but i'm here for you, as you know.