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Nocturnal Journey

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

My sombre and gloomy souvenirs go back, as living images full of animation and vitality, to that metallic bed of the dead on which my Mother was lying peacefully for several months after the operation in the hospital in Jerusalem nine months ago. I was waiting, with some anxiety, the final and fatal strike of destiny.

Then at that place, my Mother had her last breath of her life, and there in that dark and melancholic bedroom I uttered at once the deafening cry by saying "My Mother do not leave me alone."

All at once, I have become alone in the loathsome and cursed bedroom, because my Mother was no more with me. What a painful experience and what a tiresome sentiment that which I have suffered as if the Day of the Last Judgment has presented itself, not to my Mother, but to me.

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es/ House In Clouds B
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This mysterious and esoteric room has looked to me like a battlefield where I was the only combatant, the sole cavalier who was engaged in a horrible fight against an invisible and absolutely imperceptible monster who wanted unjustly to devour and eat up the innocent human beings. I told myself that that was the end of the battle, a long battle in which I lost and forever my Mother.

I still remember very well that after my cry that resounded and re-echoed in the bedroom as well as in the neighbouring places to our house, I moved myself slowly for some steps from my Mother. After that I attached myself to my seat until my back has been completely stuck to the back to the armchair.

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Her eyes were fixed on me, but they were deprived of the radiance that illuminated in her eyes few moments ago. Then I kept standing nearby the seat without moving and not knowing what to do. In reality, for few moments I thought that the room was not but an abyss in the depths of which I plunged myself without hope.

All of those, who in the previous days have escaped the danger of the Pestilence that has struck my Mother, came back without any delay after the quick spreading of the news of the death of my Mother in all the neighbouring quarters of the City of the Brotherly Love, Amman. It seemed to me that all of my relatives have been waiting impatiently the news of her death and its announcement. They have come to our house immediately after they have known, with certainty, that she was already dead and that she would be, soonest possible, buried in the cemetery, the graveyard of the City of the Brotherly Love, Amman.

After their arrival in our house, they have occupied almost all the main rooms of the house. However, nobody came to the room in which my Mother was lying dead in her bed. On the contrary, one amongst them passed by the opened door of her room and he closed the door as if I was not inside the room where the corpse of my Mother was laid down in her bed.

All of those who have arrived in our house, after the announcement of the death of my Mother, were, as a matter of fact, as spectators and on-lookers, men as well as women, who came to the house of the family to watch a theatrical play, whose heroine was no more in life.

The spectators were all my brothers and my sisters, my father and few relatives and neighbours, both men and women. As for our neighbour, the wicked, the nasty and the malicious old woman of the seventy years of age, who was living all alone in a house located at the end of the street, she did not stop at all, and during the last several years, since my Mother commenced to be sick, to watch slyly and meanly our house from a distance.

In the past, this old woman has never visited our house, but she, through the small windows of her house, was looking at us from her domicile for almost all the time. Each member of our family did not escape the evil and the envious eyes of our cursed neighbour.

She, the old wicked woman, has for sure heard my cries and my voice after the death of my Mother. She watched, through the small windows of her house, our residence that was in mourning and in bereavement.

At last, and after some time, this evil and wicked woman has precipitately but discreetly visited our house and she has put on her ugly and hideous face a fallacious and deceiving sadness. She spoke with certain members of the family. Actually, she left our house exactly when she was certain that my Mother was no more alive and that the necessary arrangements for her burial were just started to be implemented.

Then, at last, came the time when all people present in the house realized that they should absolutely enter into the room of the dead so as to have the last look on the defunct, the deceased. Inside the room, all of the spectators, the members of the family, kept standing around the bed of the dead in a sinister and hideous silence, their eyes all wide opened and completely dry without a single drop of tears coming out of the eyes and their mouth was wide open.

From time to time, somebody whispered some words to his neighbours. In witnessing what was going on in front of me, I said to myself "what a shameful and disgraceful behaviour."

After an observation from a nearby position which did not last for few moments, the petrified face of the spectators did not provide any gesture of agony or sorrow. Nobody approached nearby the defunct for touching her. Only, everybody looked at her. After all, the spectators, men and women of all age, retreated for a certain distance from the bed of the dead Mother. However, they stayed encircling the bed.

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Somebody from among the spectators coughed for more than once and another spit out his saliva while he was coughing. Also, somebody else cleaned up his throat. One of the spectators advanced forward one or two steps towards the bed of the dead and then somebody retreated without doing later on anything.

All of a sudden, the spectators talked among themselves and they did few more steps backwards to have a look on me, the son. It was clear and obvious that I was crying while I was seated in the armchair. It seemed to me that all of these strange, bizarre and queer people have heard my moaning, my groaning. Somebody coughed once and somebody else spit while coughing.

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In the middle of this strange and unexplainable behaviour by all the members of the family, I pushed my seat backward for avoiding to be touched by the jets of the spittle of their coughing.

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Somebody, of the spectators, has spoken to the ear of another spectator in a very low voice. Several men have raised the corpse of the defunct for putting it exactly at the middle of the bed. Perhaps, she has moved a little bit before her death.

What a surprise absolutely unexpected and astonishing, while carrying the body of my Mother, a liquid of dark yellow colour gushed out abundantly from the mouth of my Mother which ran on the ground and on the white bed sheet which enveloped her. Evidently, her body has been blocked everywhere by the monster… with the exception of the mouth.

For several days, my Mother has been drinking all kinds of liquid, specially milk and water, without being able to extricate, to get rid of it. In seeing this human jar, which was my living Mother, just few minutes before, that poured this yellow liquid out of its spout, mouth, all the people who were present in the bedroom looked at each other, bewildered, taken aback and stunned in front of these waves of liquid that came out from the depth of the defunct.

Somebody coughed, another spit and some others have made some suppressed and sometimes concealed laughs, which seemed to me more sarcastic than anything else.

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And then, one after the other, the spectators turned their back to my Mother after they have looked on me for a long time. Then they went out of the bedroom, the room of the dead.

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By the window of the bedroom, I came to realize that our neighbour, the old witch, from a distance at the end of the street, was looking at me, wickedly and malignantly through one of the small windows of her dwelling,

As for myself, I remained all alone, with my Mother. I cried and cried and cried, and my Mother, who was lying dead in her bed, could neither give me a smile nor a drop of tears.

My loneliness and solitude did not last for a long time. The door of the bedroom was abruptly opened. Three or four women of an advanced age whom I never, never saw in my life in the quarter or in the City, entered scrupulously in the bedroom. Two of the three were completely veiled and all were dressed in black robes.

The four women looked to be without age. In entering the bedroom, they uttered a low voice, as if they were murmuring or whispering, some words, some expressions, without looking at me. Actually, they, the old women, behaved in a strange way. Their eyes were without any lustre, without life. Their pale face did not inspire anything… except death. They have behaved in the room in such a way that I thought that they were in their kingdom, the Kingdom of Death.

Later on, somebody has informed me that these enigmatic and mysterious old women have never shown themselves in the lanes and alleys of our quarter… except when somebody was dead. Normally, their appearance inspired to the passers-by the fear and horror. Nobody in the City of the Brotherly Love, Amman, knew where these women lived or from where they came. They visited a person only when he was dead. As for me, I have never seen them and when I saw them in my Mother’s bedroom I had a vague sentiment that two of them, the unveiled, belonged to our quarter.

At that certain moment, when the four old women entered the bedroom, I seated myself, squatted, on the ground in a dark corner of the bedroom. I was nearly blinded by my tears, and I was not able to see clearly that which has been passing around me. I have already left, deserted, my armchair which remained unoccupied all the time.

In this dark corner I imagined myself submerged in darkness and that I was about to lose my power of reasoning, that is, I was about to be a fool. All what was surrounding me, I imagined, was not but an enigmatic and unreal world and that the death of my Mother was not but a hallucination of which I have suffered at that phase of my life.

The four old women directed themselves towards the bed of the dead. They raised her and then they carried her in an easy way and then took her towards another room where an old woman was waiting for her whose profession, work, was to wash the dead women. In this other room, which was large and spacious enough to allow carrying out all of these religious and complicated rituals, all preparatory steps have already been made for the washing of the defunct.

Somebody has brought from the mosque of the quarter a big rectangular table for washing the body of the dead. The boiling water, in great quantity and the soap, all, in accordance with our established religious traditions, were brought and made available in the washing room.

My Mother, deprived of life, was placed on the rectangular table and was undressed immediately of all her clothes, her dress. The woman washer has started to do the first step in the rituals. All the limbs and visible parts of the human body, which the believers in our religion must, normally, wash and purify before each of the five prayers, were washed. Then somebody came to cut, trim, for her the nails of her hand fingers and the toes of her feet. After that, the whole body was washed.

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Before that, somebody has prepared the clothes which she would put on for her eternal life, four or five pieces of white cloth. Somebody wrapped her in the white mortuary cloth. Somebody sprinkled the flower water and the perfume on the body of my Mother. Then she was covered by the Henna powder. Her astragals were tied up and the shroud was tied up on the head, her two arms were put in the cross form on her breast. A small opening was left in the shroud to let her face to be visible to the spectators, to the consolers, to the comforters.

While my Mother was being washed and prepared for the eternal life in the spacious room, more spectators and less consolers, have come to our house, from far and from near places, and more women than men.

The women, the moment they found themselves in the interior of our house, they hurried up towards a room where women were supposed to have assembled. Several of these women have rushed to come to our house just motivated by pure and simple religious feelings and reasons. Others have come motivated by unimportant banal sentiments. They have come only to see and witness the end of the battle against the monster in which my Mother and I were the only and sole combatants.

This second group of women came for only discovering if the victim of the monster was still living or not. And while they were waiting with nervousness in the corridors and in the rooms the end of the washing of the dead, they were looking at each other and from time to time they fixed their eyes in the void, in the empty space, as if they were looking for the unknown, the monster who could have hidden himself somewhere in our house.

Sometimes they have calmed themselves involuntarily and they did not make any movement. They stayed where they were for a little bit of time in thinking that this monster that has already finished nibbling and eating up my Mother, could not be in the room where my Mother was being prepared for her last journey… that of no return.

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From time to time, some of these women came near to the open door of the bedroom where I was found for discovering if the loyal and the faithful son was still there in good health and if this young man, the son, who tried in the last few years of the life of his Mother to fight Evil that struck her, was, himself, still safe and sound.

Because up to these days, there have been these people of our neighbourhood specially among the relatives who believed with certainty that I was struck by the same monster and that by contagion I was suffering seriously from the same fatal disease as that which struck my Mother.

These wicked and mischievous women spoke in whispering while the low and sometimes monotonous noise of the flowing down of the water on the body of the defunct could be heard in the neighbouring room, where these women were seated.

From time to time, somebody, an old woman, came out to bring back to the room a thing which the woman washer has forgotten. Each time this door was opened, the eyes of the wicked and envious women were directed instantaneously towards the door in expecting impatiently the coming out of the room the corpse of the dead.

The problem of the contagious nature of the illness of my Mother was the source of fear and even of panic among the simple people of our community, especially among the uneducated and the illiterate segment of the population. Nobody ventured to come near to a person struck by this illness.

As for me, and during the illness of my Mother, I have carried out a program of intense reading of a lot of scientific literature available in my country or brought from abroad concerning this mysterious disease. Whatever was the case, I was absolutely sure that the sickness from which my mother was suffering was not contagious at all.

Unfortunately, my Mother, like all simple people in our country, believed, that her illness was seriously contagious. As a matter of fact, she has never, never pronounced the scientific term for the name of this illness. However, she began to know its name starting from a certain phase of the development of this horrible disease in her.

During the last days of her life, when she has been suffering of solitude and enforced loneliness, I started to share with her some of her daily activities. I used sometimes to take my meals with her and used, from time to time, to have a nap near her in the bed. I took all chances to prove to my mother that her disease was not contagious.

I have not attended this part of the religious rituals, which is the washing of the dead, because this was exclusively limited to the presence of women. However, I was perfectly aware, as well as informed, of what has been going on inside the washing room because of the previous childhood experiences in this domain of human life. For several times in my childhood I have attended the washing ceremony of dead men and women.

In the past, in the City of Brotherly Love, in Amman, when my town was still, more or less, a village, I had the habit, the custom, of attending, from time to time, these rituals whenever a member of our quarter or of the City of Brotherly Love had passed away. In spite of the fact that I was a child, I was interested to know and watch what used to be done for the preparation of the dead for facing the eternal life, for the journey from this mortal life to the other life, the immortal and the eternal, where the human being would live eternally in Paradise.

Even, and more often, I had the habit of visiting the graveyard of our quarter in the evening or at the beginning of the night so as to be sure that the dead who was buried at midday or before noon was still present in the depths of the darkness of his tomb.

I still remember very well the martyr of a member of the best well-known families in the City of the Brotherly Love, and of Palestinian origin, who was killed in the Holy Land during the years of the thirties and who was not washed, according to our religious rituals and traditions, before his burial. Martyrs are not washed before their burial.

In another incident, event, a man passed away all of a sudden at the age of forty-five years because of a heart attack. According to our religious traditions the defunct was washed and was buried on the same day of his death. However, in spite of all, most of his relatives and some members of his family did not believe that their man, their son, was really dead. They, more or less, believed that the dead was still alive. Several members of his family stayed in the cemetery nearby his tomb for three consecutive nights. They were just waiting and watching for his rising from the grave and his resurrection or his resuscitation from the world of Death.

In spite of the fact that I was almost a small boy of less than six years old, I attended an important part of the ceremony of awaiting the resurrection of the dead man from death by the members of his family. In fact, nobody saw me because I was hiding myself far away behind a big tombstone of a recently buried rich man of my quarter.

I kept myself, obstinately and with determination, squatting, in the dark corner, on the ground, of the room where the corpse of my dead Mother was placed. I was looking in oblivion at the empty, vacant bed of my Mother while she was still in the other spacious room in the hands of the old woman washer.

In my spirit and in my soul, there was nothing but sorrow, sadness, grief and affliction. My eyes used to be closed very frequently in spite of myself, of my will to keep myself awake. I have looked all around me with the exception of the window of the room because I was afraid to see, from a far distance, the ugly face of our wicked neighbour, the witch of the quarter, who could have been watching us from a far distance.

The door of the room in which I was seated in the dark corner was opened. The four women who took my Mother from the room to the woman washer entered carrying her in their arms.

O! What an unforgettable moment of my life. The smell, the odour, of the Henna powder spread immediately in the room. My Mother was wrapped, enveloped, in her all-white shroud. Nothing was visible of her except her lead-coloured face, without life, her closed eyes, her slightly opened mouth and the cotton filling all the orifices, the openings of her body.

Her mole, the beauty spot, located at the left side of her nose, which had been fascinating me all my life, was there presenting itself to me. This charming mole was a little bit reduced in size and emaciated, because of the escape of life from the face of my mother. Moreover, some scattered white hair was clearly visible at the edge of her right temple and perhaps on the left temple.

My Mother, already dead, wrapped in her white shroud, looked to me like a dove, a white bird, that was about to fly from a green branch towards the infinite sky. She looked like a charming bird with wings that started to be activated as a preparation for the final eternal flight. The bed, her bed, looked to me like a nest that would become empty after a short time.

I kept myself standing, with some hesitation, because I felt that I was tired and fatigued and that I was in need to take rest on the floor of the room. Nevertheless, my solitude was not respected at all. In reality, I wanted to be all alone with her in this room which I considered as a place full of darkness the moment she was dead.

Perhaps, I said to myself, my Mother wanted to tell me something, a secret of her life, and to pose to me certain last moments questions. In spite of her being dead, I had the deep and the sincere sentiment that she wanted to confide to me some secrets. Were these secrets related to her childhood life in the city of Kazan of the Volga River? I could not guess or ascertain anything. I was roaming at that moment with my mother, in one of the limitless dreams of my life.

Certain people entered, with some signs of carelessness and laziness, into the bedroom of my Mother, of whom the majority were women and very few men, like my father and my half-brother. The latter has never ever liked my Mother at all, and she did not like him either. He was perpetually always ready to attack her, his eternal enemy, by whatever arms were available for him.

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All of these people had the intention to have the last look on the dead in her house. Certain persons, among these people, stopped for a short while when they were about to go out of the room of the Dead. I have observed them scrupulously, and I could not see a single one of them who had any sign of sadness, some sadness, on their face. Moreover, I could not see a single one of them who had shed a single drop of tears from his malicious and evil loving eyes.

Then a small number of chairs have been brought to the room. My father and four of other members of the family have entered into the room once more. At that time I wished to have a cigarette. During that epoch of my life I used to smoke a lot, more than normal. Moreover, it was not in our traditions, as I have interpreted and understood them, to smoke in the presence of the dead. Also, my father was there, seated in his chair. He kept silent and has not shown any inclination to talk to any person. He was in a pensive and a thinking mood and he frowned sometimes his eyebrows and it seemed that he remembered the illness and the death of my Mother.

In spite of the fact that I was twenty-seven years old, or somewhat more, I do not remember that I have ever dared to smoke a cigarette in the presence of my father. Even, I do not remember that I have ever shaved in front of him, my father. Also, I do not remember, at all, that I walked beside or in front of him when we used to walk together. Actually and always, I walked behind my father… as a sign of respect, veneration and reverence to him.

Lastly, and for the first time in my life, I took out the packet of cigarettes from my pocket, looked at the face of my father and I decided to break down, to disobey, the traditions of our society. I thought I was the only follower at that time, epoch, and the only applicant of these old traditions because nobody in our community behaved like me in the presence of the father or the elders of the community.

Therefore, and in order to hide my crime of smoking in the presence of my father, I hid myself behind the open door. I lit my cigarette in trembling, I took hurriedly and in panic three or four puffs of the cigarette, and then I decided to extinguish the cigarette in the ashtray found on the small low table.

At that moment, the same four mysterious old women entered into the room reciting some of the well-known verses of our Sacred Book. They carried my Mother, with caution, attention and care to the salon. There, somebody has brought the coffin and they put the dead body in this wooden box of an oblong form that has a small piece of wood at each of its four sides to facilitate carrying it.

In this coffin, where my Mother has already been placed, somebody has put a green bed cover. More than four men were carrying the coffin to outside of our house. At the same time, the other persons in the house were watching my mother leaving her house for the last time. Some of these persons were basically the children of the Devil and the followers of Satan.

All the men have already reassembled outside our house. The women, according to our social and religious traditions, remained incarcerated inside the house. As a matter of fact, the house was almost empty with the exception of the presence of my sisters and some sympathizing neighbours.

The wicked and the cursed old neighbour, the witch of the quarter, did not show up at all. When I went out of the house, I verified whether this wicked and cursed neighbour has come to our house. Somebody told me that this horrible witch has not been seen, at least for the moment, in our house. I felt that I was appeased and abated, relieved and even saved.

The funeral procession commenced to move forward. In the past, it was necessary to go to the cemetery on foot by walking all through the roads to the graveyard. Outside the house, there were many people, in the alley, in the street, especially those who came from the secondary school, several teachers and few hundreds of students, of which I was at that time the principal.

When the procession moved forward in the quarter, windows, several of them, have been reluctantly, and in some cases hurriedly, opened. Several women and young girls, from inside the window, were watching the funeral procession with enthusiasm, zeal and curiosity. Some others, those who always wished to be the only survivals on this planet, looked at the procession with evil, sinful and wicked eyes and feelings.

As for my Mother, this was the end of a long and a delirious history of the struggle against the calamitous pestilence and a cruel monster. This kind of spectators, the women looking through the windows, has turned the last page of the history of the illness of my Mother. Some of these spectators and of these consolers have been reciting some verses from the Holy Book, the Quran. They have been raising their index, as it was the custom and the tradition to act and react in such a situation.

Other windows have already been closed either by their window panes or by their curtains. The women who were hiding behind these windows thought that the monster, the pestilence, the contagious disease, which has already nibbled and eaten my Mother, has been busy looking for a new victim, looking for others who will be surprised to find themselves being prepared to be put, to be buried in their graves.

While I was walking, in the funeral procession, in front of all, as it was the custom, I looked at the gardens of some houses. I remarked that there have been some people, some persons, without identity, who hid themselves behind and in the middle of the trees of these gardens. I observed and noticed some heads and some eyes of unidentified persons who were watching obnoxiously the funeral procession in which the coffin of my Mother was carried on the shoulders of four persons or more whom I thought to be angels coming from heavens.

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In spite of all, I told myself that the monster has retreated from the immortal battle-field in which life and death have been fighting each other, each claiming supremacy and infallibility. The monster has hidden himself, I did not know where, while he would be waiting the order of the Hazard, of the Destiny, for attacking more and other victims.

Somebody, an impressive and a highly dignified person in the procession, walked by my right side, a teacher of Arabic language in the secondary school of which I was the principal at that time. He was keeping my right arm in his. We, the teacher and I, have been walking together towards the eternal abode of my Mother, the graveyard of the City of Brotherly Love, of Amman. I was feeling that we were going towards the infinite, towards the world of the unknown, towards the beginning of the eternal life of my Mother.

Slowly, the funeral procession advanced, without any barrier or obstacles, any impediment or obstructions, towards the cemetery. This graveyard became later on inside the City, and later on, this cemetery was abandoned and a new graveyard, far away in the suburbs of the City, was established.

According to our traditions, the prayer of the funeral should be carried out either in one of the mosques of the City or on the spot in the cemetery. The coffin was put in a place which was wide enough to allow carrying out the principal and the important ritual, the prayer towards the Kiblah, in Mecca, and also toward the south. All people prepared themselves to perform the prayer. The Imam, any man who would be available and who would be ready and capable to lead the prayer, has conducted this fundamental ritual. According to our traditions and religious heritage, this prayer of the funeral could be carried out by some and not by all of those who were present. This prayer, ritual, did not last for a long time.

Then I directed myself towards the oblong shape ditch, the pit that was deep enough for the complete burial of the dead body of my Mother. Inside at the bottom of the depth of this ditch there was a part of it of which the four sides were built of bricks and small stones.

This ditch was like a small cell with four strong sides, walls, that will allow the dead, when he would be all alone, to move with no difficulty and to be ready to give the required answers to questions that would be posed to him by the two angels who are responsible for conducting the interrogation of the dead.

My Mother was carried gently and carefully to the rough brink of the deep ditch, which was to be her grave. Then several persons have lowered her inside the grave. Somebody has untied for her the cloth at end of the feet and her hands.

Somebody has spread, sprinkled, the deep green coloured Henna powder everywhere on the body of the dead. Verses of our Holy Book, the Quran, were recited by a person, a sheikh. Then my Mother has been instructed the necessary legal and required answers which would be posed to her very soon by the two angels. All of these steps of rituals were taken, implemented, in a very meticulous and careful way.

The important and inevitable moment has come, has taken place, when all would have the chance of looking at that thing which was my Mother before putting the broad bricks that would function as the ceiling for the small cell which was located at the bottom of the ditch, or the tomb.

I advanced myself nearer to the edge of the tomb and have tried to keep myself standing because I was almost about to faint and to lose my consciousness and to fall down in the tomb. In my right hand, I had a handful of soil, of earth. Then I threw cautiously and meticulously this earth on the dead body of my Mother. But I avoided throwing the earth on her face that was still visible. "We are to God and we will return to Him." I said, I declared, in accordance with our traditions.

Of my family, I was the only one who was found nearby the tomb, and I realized that nobody of my family was there around the tomb. After I carried out some ocular verification of the consolers, of those persons who were present, I have seen my half-brother standing very far from the tomb and from where I was standing. He had on his face an almost hidden as well as deceitful and mischievous smile.

Among the crowd, I tried to discover my father. I did my best but I could not locate him, find him. My father, a type of a small man, perhaps he was somewhere in the crowd, I said to myself.

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What an unforgettable moment, a significant part of the infinite time, when my Mother was finally buried. Then it was the last time that I saw the face of my Mother who heroically struggled against the modern pestilence, but who at the end of the battle has finally yielded and succumbed, to her destiny.

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I told myself that the terrifying monster was still free, unconfined and loose and would savagely attack the next victim. Nobody could do anything. I looked at my Mother and I told her in my heart: "Farewell, my Mother, farewell my Mother, you are the victim of the blind and the cruel destiny. Farewell, my pure and my immortal love. I have tried my best, struggled, to save you, but I was without any power in front of evil that has savagely struck you. Farewell, my Mother, sleep in tranquillity in the eternity. Be in Paradise. Farewell my Mother, farewell."

After that, and in a very rapid manner, I recited in my heart the Chapter of the Introduction, Al-Fatiha of our Sacred Book in saying:

"In the name of the most merciful God; Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures, the most merciful, the King of the day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and of thee do we beg assistance. Direct us in the right way, in the way of those to whom thou hast been precious, not of those against whom thou art incensed, nor of those who go astray."

The slabs were placed so as they form the ceiling of the tomb-cell. The earth was thrown in the tomb. Some slabs were put temporarily on the oblong. A temporary tombstone was put on the grave. Later on, the necessary and the required steps were taken by the persons in charge of such an activity so that this ditch has become the permanent tomb of my Mother. Later on; and about five years after the death of my mother, my father's tomb was built there near that of my Mother.

The religious instructor, the tutor, came and stood on the edge of the tomb and he started to instruct my Mother the answers that she would be giving to questions that would be posed by the angels. He said to her:

"O! Daughter of Ibrahim, say that your God is Allah, and your Prophet is Muhammad and your religion is Islam and your Sacred Book is the Koran, and your Kiblah is the Ka’ba."

The members of the family and some of the relatives started to line up nearby the exit of the cemetery. Myself, I was the third on the left, after my father and my half-brother. All of those who were in the cemetery, many of them, offered to us their condolences and their deepest sympathy.

Hurriedly, the graveyard became totally deserted because the consolers and the members of the family have already left the cemetery. All people after the end of the obsequies, the funeral, went to their homes. At that time, the sun was about to sink behind the horizon for the preparation of a new day.

The twilight of that evening, after the end of the burial of my Mother, was strange and banal. From my house, located on one of the seven hills of the City of Brotherly Love, I saw the dusk, extremely red as if the sun was covered everywhere by blood and as if a massacre has taken place few moments ago.

I entered into the room where my Mother, before sometime, was lying in her bed looking at me continuously and I was sitting in the armchair looking at her. I smoked a lot of cigarettes and nobody wanted or had the inclination to approach to my seat. All of these people understood very well the sorrow, the grief and the affliction in which I was totally submerged.

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Everybody knew that I was a defeated son. I was a conquered man. I could not save my mother. I was defeated by Evil that has savagely tormented my mother and has finally mercilessly struck her, killed her. All people understood that I have at last lost the battle. Everybody knew that from now on I would be always a lonely man, a solitaire.

es/ Alone At Home In The Storm
Above artwork is by the author's son... See more!
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Nocturnal Journey

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