thursday afternoon s and i went there -to the mountainside graveyard. the white marble on the grave was chipped, and the writings already faded. so much can happen in a year’s time. has it nearly been a year? two-weeks short of, to be precise.

children, as always, congregated around us. some looking for halwa that we were supposed to distribute as nazr -and which we did not have any with ourselves; to the shock of the youngsters- and some others bringing to us the halwa of nazr from other families who were visiting their relatives graves. we dutifully took from the latter and gave to the former.

i sat at the foot, planting myself on the lower marble step and started my routine survey of kabul and the overhanging smog. the afternoon view is beautiful. the vastness of kabul seen from the mountain side fills my heart. there are the landmarks that i have known since my childhood -because i grew up on this mountainside. the old, friendly silo. the tv mountain. the minaret of the masjid-e jaghuri-ha where i first read hafez and encountered bullies. i try tracing my way through the maze of streets back to my old house, my primary school, my grandfather’s home. sometimes when the air is clearer i can even see the darul aman palace on the opposite side of the valley from here.

i often go there alone. on these visits, i don’t feel much. above all, to my own surprise, i don’t feel intense sorrow or anger -just a vague sense of loss. my being does not register the cataclysm that has already happened and a year has already passed on it. i just sit there, vaguely aware of a kindred company, a kind invisible presence, and look over kabul in silence. sometimes it feels as if she is there with me, sitting behind me, just out of my field of view. i am afraid to look around and have the illusion broken -so i continue looking over the city until the shadows become darker and i start walking back to my car. then i dawns on me that i am alone.

thursday s sat there behind me, facing west. i was facing south, on the marble step, eyeing silo, the mountains in front, and the bustle of life in between, down below in the city. then i realized that she was crying silently. i felt an onrush of blood to my head, and of tears to my eyes.

nostalgia is usually for things that were, and that are lost. but sometimes it is also for things that could have been, but that will never be. an alternate trajectory that begins with if. sometimes i imagine myself in this alternate trajectory and imagine it to the tiniest and most banal details. such as both of them -s and her- being there at the circumcision ceremony of our second son.

i always do the purfunctory prayers when i am there, but even this does not drive it home for me. the fact that i will go through life not knowing her love any more. not being able to love her back. not being able to see her grow old and turn silver and wrinkly. but you know what -in the years that she was still here, she loved us enough that would suffice us a lifetime. which makes her departure all the more incredible, all the more devastating.

we walk back in silence, holding hands. the children are disappointed in us. they have not encountered mourners this cold, this silent and dignified, and this irreverent in that they give neither halwa nor money.


~ by safrang on July 26, 2008.

2 Responses to “thursday”

  1. Sobering. Ought to call my adai now.

  2. Touching. I’m here for you.

    My family just came back from Afghanistan yesterday and they visited some of the kabres of our family. The made a video and I noticed the marble had chipped off too. Depressing.

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