window

At a Funeral

by Alyasa Abbas

Waseem Akbar was a friend of my father’s and my uncles – It was the only thing I knew about him. Naturally, the news of his death did not affect me. The burial was in the night.

There was already quite a crowd gathered outside his home by the time we reached there. The women were inside the house – Grief-stricken voices along with prayers and intense cries could be heard. Men – except for the relatives – were silent; almost everyone stood with folded arms and bowed heads. I joined.

A cry coming from inside the house was getting louder and louder. All heads turned to the gate as a nine-year old, raw-boned figure of a boy appeared. His cries were nerve-shaking; and the coughing that followed after each cry made it even worse. Veins came to his skin. His screams of “Papa-Papa” sent shivers to my spine. The boy fainted. All of us stood shell-shocked. Then, a young man stepped forward, took the boy in his arms and went away from the crowd, asking for water along the way.

We reached the graveyard. The grave was still being dug so we sat around to wait. Wearied of the silence, men started talking. I overheard a man. “Unfortunate fellow. Not the age. Not the age. Only forty. Unfortunate for him.” He was saying.

I wondered, ‘who is it more unfortunate for? Him, who died so young or his family who have to now live without him? Sure, at the moment people are present to provide a shoulder for them to cry on, but they are not going to stay throughout the night. Soon, the burial shall be over and people will go to their homes. The real test of Waseem Akbar’s family will begin then – the night of lonely torture. Waseem Akbar died in an accident, his pain was short-lived. His family has an entire night of that pain ahead of them; and many more to come.’

Both Waseem and his family spent that night in solitude. The only difference was – His family had to make it through the night. Waseem, on the other hand, was spared of this necessity.

I learned that night that it is not the death of a person but the loss of those to whom he mattered that really makes people cry.