I am sitting on the steps of the Government Plaza in Boston and hundreds of people are with me. We listen to the outpouring of a young man who has tried twice to end his life and relieve himself of the darkness, which he is unable to shake off with medicines, drugs and alcohol. I am here to support L in her endeavor to walk “out of the darkness” An all-night eighteen-mile walk to support victims and survivors of suicide.

I see him……… in my minds eye; he is pacing and listening to songs, watching Urdu movies endlessly, chain smoking, and yet drowning in the darkness, which is engulfing him. None of us were aware of the dark clouds that engulfed him till one day they surrounded him and suffocated him….. I recall the picture I have of him and Tariq on the stoop of my home. Both gone to the other side.

The blue shirts cry out the ache of those left behind.confused, in sorrow, and ignorant of reasons why one would voluntariy relinquish life.

The walk begins………the sun is low, the semi-cobbled streets of Boston hear the padding of the sneakered feet, the brave souls who are going to walk for the memory of their loved one, or are going to walk into the darkness and then out of it, to fight their own inner darkness no matter what.

We pass the capital in all its evening glory. Tthe golden dome drenched in the receding sunshine, the flowers reaching out from the railings to touch the passersby with silent compassion, offering their subtle fragrance as solace.

This walk and its walkers are different. Absent are the happy camaraderie, the joking around, and the heedlessness of life that has never known the depths of sorrow.

The walkers walk, I do too, though I am not a registered walker. I try not to think of why I am here, I try not to think of the darkness that enveloped his soul to the point that it wanted freedom,  freedom of the soul from the body…

Yet Allah Subhanawataala says in the Quran that “every soul will taste death” then if death has to come at the appointed time, how can the one who facilitates the end of life be chastised ?

I am perplexed and afraid of being disrespectful simultaneously as I may be making an opinion out of my ignorance of Allah’s words on this issue. Thinking about the time of death and how it is ushered in for him and for Tariq, two different ways, the same end, yet different  is  confusing for me………

As I walk, I recite all the surahs I can remember and as much of the Surah Yaseen that I can recall. I walk till my hips feel that they are going to drop my femur out of their sockets, and as L and others turn right to pass on to the third of the eighteen miles they will walk tonight, M and I turn left towards her apartment and maghrib salah.

I take a last look at the twilight of the setting sun and pray for L who has decided to walk “out of the darkness’’ in memory of someone we both loved and lost and I make dua for her.

In the early morning, after fajr we are greeted by the white bags lining the path, each with a story of its own, the many lives that departed without a goodbye, some in the middle of the zenith of youth, some later……..I look around at the tired but rejuvenated faces of the walkers, they have overcome the darkness and walked out of it.

The spreading light of the morning bears witness to their strength, their love and the tenuous thread that connects them with those who have passed over to the other side mysteriously……and forever, as we know it.

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