Mounds of Dirt 

They lay there forgotten. The world passed by, unaware of their presence. Barely visible now. The grass had grown tall now. The vegetation didn’t seem to notice there was anything or anyone here. To the grass they were just heaps of dirt. Organic matter.

A boy walked past, whistling. Two other boys rushed past him cycling. Chasing a dog. An old woman carrying a heavy bundle of something on her bent back walked past too. A man with a saw overtook the woman with an impatient expression on his face.

The car tried its best to get through this busy market place as fast as possible. So many cities left. So many kilometres left before it would reach it’s destination. No time to waste here. But a horse suddenly pulled free from its owner and, in a desperate attempt to flee, ran onto the road. The car, however, missed it by a few centimetres. In confusion, it turned sharply to the left and stopped. People gathered around to control the rogue horse. The argument that ensued between the driver and the owner of the horse was not really understood by anyone. The city dwellers in the car could not understand the local Punjabi dialect. And the locals were confused by this city language.

They, however, heard everything. And understood it. They lay there, aware of their fellow beings wasting away in petty matters, matters that did not matter at all. Matters that would soon be forgotten. Like themselves.

In mounds of dirt.

Dear Laiba Fatima…

I can’t believe it. I cannot believe that you are actually gone. I remember the day Arub told me about that brain haemorrhage. But the surgery was successful and you should have woken up. They were waiting, you know. All of us were.

I remember when I heard you had fainted during that test at the academy. The doctors said it was a brain haemorrhage and they even operated successfully, but then, dear, why didn’t you wake up?

It’s true we didn’t know each other that well. We didn’t even talk much. But you were there, a face eched in my memory, a comrade from my school. And when I read that message a few hours ago, I was so shocked. Laiba? Laiba Fatima?

Oh Laiba. As I sat there shaking with disbelief, my body trembling uncontrollably, why is it that all I could think of was that smile you gave me when I said salam? You were probably the same age as me, but still you looked so small… as if you were only thirteen or fourteen.

I remember that straight ponytail with those curly hair. That gentle, delicate voice as you discussed the exam afterwards. Oh Laiba, are you really gone?

Sometimes I feel as if I will remember this time as the time when I had no time for anything else. Not even time to mourn Laiba’s death. I sat there, trying hard to control my trembling hands enough to practice those physics numericals. Guiltily, i knew i had to study for this test the next day but somehow I felt so guilty that the World was still moving. The tears dropped from my eyes as my heart tore itself into a million pieces. Laiba, Laiba, Laiba Fatima…

And what made me even more guilty was the fact that I stayed at those numericals. I thought of how you must have done the very same ones before me, you always did like to keep ahead. You were the one who had all the brains. The one with the good grades in everything. 

I wonder, Laiba, if I feel this way, then how is Zerish, and Zobia, and all of them? And to think nothing of your mother, that woman whom I have never met, nor heard anything of, but all the same, how must she be? Losing her seventeen year old daughter?

Laiba I don’t even know you well enough to know what your ambitions were, to know what you were trying to be in life. But now, does that even matter anymore? Does anything even matter anymore? The one truth of life is death. And that’s where you are now.

Laiba I wonder what you must be feeling right this moment. I hope its happy thoughts. I hope you don’t have to face any of the hardships after death. Ya Allah! I pray with the sincerest of all prayers that you give Laiba a place in your heavens. I pray that you forgive her her minor sins. She had a good character. Allah! Give us sabr and patience to bear this, especially her family and loved ones. Allah! We are in no position to question your decree, so we pray. Allah! Please accept this. Who else can we go to in such situations? Who else has the power to grant? Allah! Rest her soul in peace. Ameen. 

Silent Moments

There was a King who wanted to travel to a land, and he ordered that he be brought clothes to wear for the journey. He did not like the clothes he was brought and asked for other clothes, until he was brought what he liked and changed into them. He also asked that he be brought an animal to ride, but he did not like the animal and was brought another animal; he rode the best one among them. Satan came to him and blew pride in his nose, and the King responded positively. The King proceeded in a royal procession of horses, and he did not even look at his subjects out of pride. A man with modest clothes came to him and greeted him, but the King did not reply. That man held the rope of the king’s horse, prompting the King to order him,

‘Release the bridle. You have done a grave thing.’

The man said, ‘I have a need from you.’

The King said, ‘Wait until I come down.’

The man said, ‘No, right now,’ and kept his grip on the bridle of the King’s horse, until the King said,

‘Mention your need.’

The man said, ‘It is a secret.’

So the King lowered down his head and that man told him the secret, ‘I am the Angel of Death,’ and the King’s face changed colour and his tongue began to tremble.

He said, ‘Let me go back to my family, so that I might do some things and say good bye to them.’

The Angel of Death said, ‘No, By Allah! You will never see your family or estates again.’

So he captured the King’s soul, and the King fell like a brick.

“And the stupor of death will come in truth: This is what you have been avoiding!”

-The Quran (50:19)

(The above has been taken from a book by Abdul-Malik Al-Qasim named ‘Silent Moments’)