DAY 12. COVID-19 LOCKDOWN.
The tawaaf (circumambulation) of the Kabaah was mixed with the glorious voices praising Allah, the High the Great and, people of every part of the world were in the same routine. The crowd swelled to thousands and from the sky, it looked like a million ants moving around the Kabaah. This was the ground floor and the second and third floor also attracted huge numbers that made the crowd appear to be moving this great, huge and colossal mosque. It was an ocean of people and I felt like a drop in it.
Today, it os beyond belief that the holy mosque is virtually empty and the jostling of thousands of worshippers are no more. The reality shocked me to understand the tremendous impact COVID – 19 has over the whole world. The thought today was intensified by the news-broadcast on Al-Jazeera at 6:00am.
One of the headlines that bothered me was the morbid reality that people are buried with no rituals or shrouded with religious rites for the eternal passage to the hereafter. The sheer numbers of people dying is adding to this morbid scenario and the images are beyond belief.
In that instant of looking at the images of hundreds of coffins made ready for burial in sombre silence and distant from family and loved ones, I could not help but recall the following poem :
Anthem for Doomed Youth
BY WILFRED OWEN
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds
The deceased lay in rows shrouded in utter silence and yes, I asked what passing bells, what call to prayer, what hymn or what ceremony of closure do the family and friends have for those who succumbed to COVID-19. It was distressing to hear on other podcasts how doctors in Italy for example, used their cellphones and iPads/Tablets to make video calls to near and dear ones when requested to do so by the dying persons. The medical staff say they have hundreds of such recordings and its painful. I read the poem again and say to myself that this is not WW2 but, the tragedy of losing life at this rate is beyond belief. The war is on with an enemy we cannot see.
I cannot write more because the poignancy of the reality suffocates the heart and bewilders the mind. However, the message urges me on. The message is that we, unlike the doomed youth, sent to the killing fields during WW1 & 2; we have more choices and luxury at our disposal. Yes, the overwhelming sadness to see the bier of a beloved on a screen as it makes it ways to the graveyard is distressing to say the least but, the dignity is maintained with every step. How? I asked myself did those doomed youth see their comrades die and buried? They were scarred by bullets of anxiety and traumatised by jolts of electrifying nightmares knowing the muddy and watery graves their comrades were buried in. We did not know it then and now as well because all we have are written accounts. Today, we see it all but our hearts have become numb of rape, pillage and plunder but, the deaths and burials that COVID-19 visited us with, has re-opened that chapter. It is beyond belief but, the reality strikes home.
Closer to home, there were funerals and the religious rituals and ceremonies took place with just very close family. The funeral was dignified and ceremoniously soothing to the heart, mind and soul. We witness this from a distance and felt the pain too but, understood the need. My mind raced to the loneliness experienced by those who could be there for their near and dear ones in those most crucial moments. The situation is beyond belief.
I REALLY don’t know how to conclude because today it dawned upon me what trauma people go through when they don’t have a sense of closure on the passing away of their loved ones. I am further deepened by sadness when I think of all those lovely people who died as the result of wars and bombs – what prayer have we made for them? What was their sending off like? The list in painfully endless. Therefore, take life’s embrace and count your blessings and teach your children to appreciate the finer aspects of human relations because that is the best value they will appreciate.
All I want to say is that only Allah can open a way out for us. Let us ponder of the ayahs (signs) of the Chapter from the Holy Quran.
﴿١﴾ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ1. In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.﴿٢﴾ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ2. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.﴿٣﴾ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ3. The Compassionate, the Merciful.﴿٤﴾ مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ4. Master of the Day of Judgment.﴿٥﴾ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ5. You alone we worship; and upon You, we call for help.﴿٦﴾ اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ6. Guide us along the straight path.﴿٧﴾ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ7. The path of those You have blessed, not of those with anger on them, nor of the misguided.
DAY 13 BECKONS BEYOND BELIEF FOR YOU.