We go out in the afternoon sun and sit on the bench. It is winter in the south. He seems to be content to sit in my lap and listen to the chimes hanging from a tree branch to the right of the bench. The breeze is in motion whipping color into his cheeks and gently making a song of the chimes.
We sit silently for a few minutes, soaking in the rays of the sun, he is quiet. I look at the bench. The hard enameled paint that has a lifetime warranty is peeling from the arms……….nothing and no one has a lifetime warranty and some have abbreviated lifetimes. It is the ninth year and the bench has housed many a weeping friend and family as it sat at the cemetery near Tariq, Imran and Ebad’s gravesite. Now we have it under a tree at our house.
All the loving graffiti from teary friends written on the bench with “indelible” markers have been washed out with the passage of time. What are left are the memories in the air, in the rustling of the leaves, the smiling face of a baby.
What is left is the way we behold the faces of our children as if we own them and as if we will have them for all our living years…..
We call them “my” child! How erroneous when we cannot even establish ownership over our own self. Our bodies rebel, withdraw, hibernate, swell with child, collapse with birth. We have no ownership on any of the events that impact us, we cannot even fight off the minutia of the virions that sometimes invade our bodies and sever our daily regimen by forcing us to lie down, take stock of priorities and visualize our end.
It is winter and the trees have shed their leaves, which have entered the ground never to go back up on the tree again. Yet in their disintegrating act they nourish the mother tree to give it the strength to give leaves again in the spring. Do we know which tree will come back with leaves, and which one will hang dry and meet its maker?
After a bit I tell him a story………
“Once there was a little baby like you, he was “my” baby and he lived in this house. Do you see that tree near the lake, where we walked last time………?”
He turns his head to look at the lake and says “Hmm ” (in the intonation of yes), I go on “ we had a picnic for his first birthday there,” I point to the tree near the lake. “Hmm” he acknowledges. “It was with his sister and me. We spread a blanket and had food and drink but all he wanted was to play and explore. It was just the three of us because his father was away travelling, and his Nano had left us to go take care of her ailing father in Pakistan,” He murmurs “Hmm” as if he agrees. It was the second of December, many years ago……..
Tears fill my eyes, he looks around and then at me as I hastily wipe the tears and smile at him. The understanding look on his face is far beyond his years.
We have babies, we think they are ours. We groom them for the success of this world but we omit to make dua for their future away from this world. We make no arrangement for a house for them in the Akhirah. We feed them non-halal and non-tayyab food. We encourage them to live a life of deceit to get higher on the ladder of worldly success. We do not teach them and do not practice how to protect our children and ourself from the eternal FIRE until it is too late………..
As our last breath fades…….our book of actions closes, all corrections, editing and changes are forever terminated.
The birds chirp distantly and he draws my attention to them as if to cheer me “birdy” he says and yet he does not leave my lap, as if he senses the intensity of how much I miss “my” baby and all the things I could have done for him to beautify his eternal abode in Akhirah but did not. May Allah forgive me.
It is another cold winter afternoon in the south where the sun shines, the shadows lengthen, and I live in the present moment with a sense of understanding that all I have to cherish is the gift of this moment: The baby in my lap, the wind chimes making music, the birdies chirping in a distance and the bench beneath me, a testament to the love of the friends of my departed baby……..