It is raining steadily; most everyone has excused himself or herself from the walk except one.
We begin our walk umbrella’s open, coats on and camera in hand, as we proceed towards the path between the canal and the river. The scene unfolding in front of us is totally unfamiliar; I have walked this path so many times yet today it seems mesmeric. There is silence, except for the birds and the gushing water as it falls over the rocks. On the other side of the river, mist rises from within the trees and I feel disoriented. Am I in the smoky mountains?
I soon realize that Allah SWT is showing us a view of this place that I have never seen before. Rain washed the rich hues of fall seem to become drenched in color. The puddles on the ground enhance the color of the fallen leaves by reflecting them, and soaking them thus enriching their color.
There is more wild life to be seen including a snowy white egret gently sweeping over the water and a blue Heron after its graceful flight sits on the stone ledge and his neck disappears in his feathers as he too tries to ward off the cold.
As she walks with me, my lone companion for this walk of remembrance and prayer, she talks words of wisdom…. how to always try and look at the glass as “half full and not as half empty”, how life needs to be lived “with a smile”, that each new day is a gift that our lives and our children’s lives are amanat from Allah Subhanawataala. Then we both simultaneously thank God that our children lived a life without blemish and died in that state, and are remembered with dignity and affection by all.
And then………..as we reach the side path where it dips down to the river, she recalls the fateful day……she talks about a mother’s instinct: in knowing and feeling that something was wrong that day……of her insisting to her husband to turn back from the exit of their subdivision, when she sees two police cars turning into their subdivision. Her husband overcome with grief on listening to the news of Im’s fatal accident from the policemen. She having the presence of mind to make a phone call seeking help. There is no one in their home except the two of them……..
I do not realize that tears are flowing from my eyes as I think of her, outside my personal grief, immersing myself in hers. How did she cope with watching her husband in a state of uncontrolled grief and making the phone call to get help from our community…….and then thank God they came she said, in droves and stayed all night.
I remember that night…….
The walk is dedicated to the friendship of Tariq Im and Ebad…..we talk of their positive attitude towards life, their deep and abiding friendship with each other and their sincere concern and absence of being judgmental with the less fortunate.
Meanwhile snippets of couplets from poems from our past float onto our lips as we watch the bubbles form on the ground
“Life is like a bubble……..” “Yay zindagi habbab ki si hay…..”
The deep silence, absence of noisy humans has encouraged the birds to come out in the rain; the ducks to unabashedly dive for food and the silent sentinel birds to sit on the rocks in the river and watch for food or perhaps do tasbeeh.
The hushed foliage dripping with rain listens, as two mothers remember their sons. The beauty of nature, silently unfolding its grace with dignity and enfolding us in its beautiful embrace and as if saying…….Look around you! Recognize the signs of Allah in the beauty that enfolds you, and give praise….Subhanallah!
And so we keep on walking, covering eight miles effortlessly as if walking eight meters. The rain falling around us, shedding tears of anguish, tears of cleansing, and tears of purification. Two mothers remembering and praying for their lost sons…..