- 13 Jul - 19 Jul, 2019
The Cemetery Flowers
- 20 Jan - 26 Jan, 2018
Two twins were talking in a womb, “We’re inseparable and that’s how we would always be.”
Everyone went away after the burial. Except a twenty-year-old boy who stood near the grave, motionless like a corpse himself. His mournful eyes reflected his helplessness while he stared at the grave, looking as if he could see beyond it, reigniting the memories he could never live again. He felt as if he had buried his heart in the same grave. With his eyes red and swollen, he burst out, “I beg you to stay, Ibrahim. I can’t live without your love, please don’t leave me alone. You were my entire world. My brother, my best friend! We came to life in our mother’s womb together and have spent every single moment of our lives together too. Twenty years and 9 months of togetherness and now you expect me to live without you? My world has crumbled down to nothing. You have left me a very poor person.” Wasted, he fell down and lost his consciousness.
On opening his eyes in a hospital, he saw his parents looming over him, both visibly shaken. His mother Zeba held his hand and voiced meekly, “We have lost Ibrahim, Abdullah. We are aggrieved but we’re trying to live for you, beta. We know you need us by your side but if you give up on life then we would kill ourselves too.” His father Tauheed stood and wept mutely.
He vividly remembered the day the twins came into this world. The couple had finally been blessed with not one, but two babies after 8 years of their marriage so they were on cloud seven. It was a big day for the parents and Abdullah and Ibrahim became the centre of their world from thence.
Time did what it does best: it flew. Twenty years of euphoria passed in the blink of an eye. The brothers were inseparable, with their love for each other so profound that life without each other was unimaginable. Unfortunately, Ibrahim had to endure an untimely death. It so happened that both the brothers were on their way back home from a relative’s when their motorbike met an accident. Wearing the only helmet on Ibrahim’s insistence, Abdullah survived the severe mishap while the latter had to bid farewell to this world. Peculiarly, he already knew what was to happen, as Abdullah guessed from his last conversation with his twin brother.
“You have to promise me that you would look after yourself and our parents when I am not around. You guys are my entire world.” He had said. Abdullah had gotten annoyed and had asked him to shut up. If only he knew…
After Ibrahim’s death, their father visited the graveyard often but Abdullah could not muster the courage to see his brother so lifeless beneath the cold, damp earth.
Months passed by but Abdullah did not visit Ibrahim’s grave despite their father’s insistence. He had turned into a lifeless soul with no aim in life. He dropped out of university and even counselling had little effect on him. All that time, he had constantly been dreaming of an old man in a white cloak standing near Ibrahim’s grave and telling him to plant rose seeds in the centre of it. The dream had made him both uneasy and curious so one day, he finally bought some rose seeds from a nursery and headed to the cemetery. After reciting Fatiha, he had sown the seeds in the centre of his brother’s grave, as per the old man’s instructions. The same night, he dreamt of Ibrahim, standing next to the same old man and thanking him.
Now Abdullah made it a point to visit the cemetery regularly and watered the seeds. Sometimes the same old man would appear in his dreams with a smile of encouragement on his benign face. Months passed by and the plant grew. Roses blossomed on it in their full glory, their fragrance welcoming Abdullah everyday. One day, a very strange thing happened. While Abdullah was busy offering Fatiha on his brother’s grave, the man from his dreams appeared before his eyes! Abdullah was scared and incredulous for a while, but the man’s smile eased his nerves. “I… I see you in my dreams!” he stammered.
The old man smiled knowingly and replied, “I know… I saw you at your brother’s funeral, listened to you talking to him while Ibrahim’s soul stood beside me, restless. Moving to the other world was as hard for him as living without him is for you. He asked me to tell you that he could not intervene with the process of nature. His death was predestined by God with no consultation from him. He was regretful of breaking his promise of staying with you forever, but he wanted me to assure you that you will reunite one day.”
Tears streamed down Abdullah’s face. He asked, “Did you really meet him?”
The man answered in affirmative, “Yes, I have lived here for centuries. I meet all the souls before they depart.”
But Abdullah still had questions for him, “Why did I dream about you and why did you want me to sow a rose plant?”
“I could see that you needed me and so I came for you.”
Abdullah could not believe it, “How can I need you without even knowing you?”
The old man smiled his sage smile, “I knew how troubled you were so I came for your help.”
Abdullah understood now. The old man continued, “You see those roses growing in full bloom among the dead? The decomposition of human body paves way for plant growth. That is the way nature works; new souls replace the old ones. It’s the cycle of soul with both life and death as its essential parts. You must understand this and learn to live without your brother.”
Abdullah was crying bitterly. “I love you, Ibrahim.” He mumbled.
The old man comforted him. “He knows that and he loves you too. He sees you and prays for you.”
Abdullah looked at the helpful stranger thankfully. He wanted to hug him out of gratitude but just as he inched forward towards him, the man vanished into thin air. Flabbergasted, the boy stood transfixed in the middle of the lonely cemetery.