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     Volume 7 Issue 32 | August 8, 2008 |

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A Walk in the Graveyard

Syed Munir Khasru

It is about 9:00 pm in the graveyard and I am standing alone next to my father's grave. The eerie silence and placid darkness create a solemn atmosphere pierced by the chirping of crickets and call of the toads. The sky is blitzing with threads of thunder that look like white electric sparks in a deep blue ocean. As nature cloaks itself in the gown of the night, the moonlit glow makes the earth crystal clear, visible across the horizon. As I stand alone in the graveyard which holds my father, it seems the quiet neighbourhood is coming to life with the aura of the subdued light and calm whisper unleashed by the drizzle and thunder, wind and storm. As the inhabitants of this neighbourhood of eternal silence lie side by side, row after row, block after block and as far as the eyes can gaze, I wonder where my father is roaming in the midst of the crowd that lives more in our imagination and less in our reality.

Two years ago, when I lost my father Syed Amir Khasru, it seemed more like a sudden disconnection as opposed to a journey transformed. As time has progressed, the death of my father has been assuming a more philosophical plane as opposed to the void created by the absence of his missing physical presence.

When our loved ones leave us, we find reasons and means to go on with our life no matter how severe the impact of the loss may be. On the other hand, if we are reflective enough and have some degree of faith in the afterworld, the emotional connection between the living and the dead take on a new dimension. Time passages indeed redefine the roles and responsibilities of the earthlings and eternal pilgrims. As silence takes over noise, memories replace experience, and thoughts subdue actions, one slowly comes to terms with a different kind of relationship, the fabric of which is woven in the intricate threads of love and emotion, feeling and compassion. Our souls take a spiritual flight in search for the eternity that unites us all.

As we move on with life, in every twist and turn of fate, we realise how the shadow of the departed continues to trail us in our daily experience of success and failure. When we act defiant in the face of intimidation, we hear that deeper voice that inculcated the spirit in our formative years when we were being shaped more by experience than by knowledge. When we stand up to things that we find morally repugnant, the spectre of the idealist who inspired the courage looms large in our thoughts and acts. As if the faith and conviction of an older generation finds refuge in the heart and soul of a newer generation. A history of bravery of the father can inspire the son to defy the odds and persevere, if the right lessons have been learned at the right time. It is so strange that things that we once vehemently argued about when the person was living can often become an integral part of oneself when the person is no more. That's how I feel about my father. Had I known better, I could have appreciated him better during his lifetime than I am able to do after his death.

In the childhood years, one of the basic lessons in religion, morals, and values highlights the importance of family bonds with emphasis on the relationship between children and parents. In every religion, the rights and privileges of mother and father are second to none as is the strength of their blessings and prayers for the children. It is quite difficult to explain the sixth or seventh or eighth sense of security and comfort that children continue to have even when their parents are no longer around and may be smiling from the heavens. That nano second arrival for the exams before doors have been closed, that near escape from a fatal accident by that split second decision, that unexpected scholarship from the university you almost had forgotten, that job offer from an application of more than a year when you just lost the current one and it can go on and on; the bottom line is, you can feel that someone from above that watchful gaze even when you no longer can watch him any more. Even as our loved one departs to find residence in the Creator's Kingdom of Infinity, the Almighty gives them the window to continue showering their love and affection from above. Spirits soar above the earthly confines and souls merge in that horizon where time loses relevance and space becomes undefined.

Sometimes you wonder whether there is any union awaiting us as someday you yourself will embark in the same journey at a time and place of the Creator's choice. You ponder whether these abstract feelings and drifting thoughts are there with any purpose or they are merely the remnants of a bond that may not outlive your life itself. As your thoughts cruise into the world of imagination, you seek comfort in the faith that inspires you to believe more and question less. You surrender your perceptions to convictions; you rest your restlessness at the altar of the Ultimate Tranquility. It is a strange feeling of being connected to the one you lost through the common submission to the One who got you two connected in the first place.

The night is growing stronger and the silence is speaking louder as I lose touch with time and purpose. It seems like I might as well be able to spend the rest of the night talking to my father and his neighbours. In this quiet neighbourhood, everything appears pristine as the second life resonates the inevitability of the first life. It feels as if the father and son are not that distant after all in this blissful play of life and death where all that differs is the transit and pick up points where each of us ultimately get the ride, some sooner and others later. In this communion of lives, the only certainty seems to be the uncertainty of the fate afterwards. As if the period of waiting is deliberate to give scope for the much needed introspection. Otherwise the rest of our life would be meaningless without pursuit of deeds that we hardly do, until it is too late.

As I lose count of the walks and look above in the night sky in search of answers never to be found, the question remains, can this bond between the father and son transcend the boundaries of both the worlds' to have them united again ? That is one answer only He knows. May He give us the wisdom to ask questions that need to be answered and to avoid seeking answers to things that never should be questioned in the first place and left peacefully in the lap of faith. Most importantly, may He give us the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Some bonds never cease to grow, they only evolve in new shapes and forms with time as the inner spirit responds to the changing outer dimensions of life and living. May God rest my father and all his neighbours in peace. Let each of us have the strength to take this transit walk blissfully when our time comes. A walk in the graveyard does not seem to be that lonely after all.

[The author is a Professor at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka]

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