No Shiva for the Shaheed

(for ריקי  and  منذر)

The omen came to him in a splinter of wonder in the second rakaah of the morning prayer, when the imam read aloud, "And you'll be tested with fear and hunger and losses upon losses," and he wondered how. Munther wondered if the Universe would care enough to test him, and if he would know what it meant and how it would make things better for anyone to go through such a test. 

And it didn't take long for him to find out. That day was going to be quipped "the deadliest" by the media. Though it came to him quietly through a phone call.

It took twenty-seven deaths to answer his wonderment. Twenty-seven. A whole family of three generations. Munther's family had been calling them every day since the war broke, begging the ones in danger to leave town, at least until the calm returns.
  • His aunt had laughed, "I ain't got nowhere to go." 
  • His cousin had said, "I ain't got nowhere to go without mama and my husband and children." 
  • Whereas the husband said, "I ain't got nowhere to go without mama and my wife and kids."
And so all of them stayed home that morning. Holding on to each other. As the walls trembled, then shook, then fell around them in dazzling light and calls of morning prayer, on that Ramadhan morning.

The same time when the man endowed with the strength to bear ill-omens wondered quietly in his prayer how he would be tested with loss upon loss. 
There is no shiva for the shaheed.

Death of the innocent is martyrdom; rewarded only with Union of loved ones. There is no mourning for such a glory: When the loving men and women and children hold on to what they do best as family. There is no grief for bearers of goodness and love and honor. To mourn their passing would insult their sacrifice, no matter how sore Alhamdulillah is passed in a voice choking with grief. 

His voice shook anyway. He did his job as son and bearer of omens and passed the news to his parents. And their lips quivered as they too heralded the news to neighbours and friends and strangers, with cakes and sweetmeats. "Celebrate with us, our family is in Glory."

And because they did not allow it to show in more than quivering voices and silent tears, the strength of stifled grief multiplied across the realms, shaking every hearer and witness. The angels heard it, and passed their blessings. The demons heard it, and were silenced in defeat. The humans heard it, and repeated their story, over and again, until it reached everyone whom they knew. "Twenty-seven members remained as family until the day they died. They held on to each other that morning. There is no shiva for the shaheed..."
And it reached her, the girl on the other side of the war.

It reached her in a moment of quiet after the alarm in the kibbutz set off. She snuggled in her chair, trying to read her book, fuming over the argument she had with her father about their vacation abroad. 

She had heard it earlier, but was only aware of it then, in the hush after the alarm and consummate darkness, in the comfort and safety of a sturdy shelter, among her bickering kin and brightly charged gadgets. She didn't wonder though; for it took her awareness with the force of so many quivering voices and silent tears, wave upon wave, washing her with clarity. "That there is no shiva for the shaheed..."

She wept. Alone and brave and true. Confusing her family, lamenting their common frailty. Cursing the war. As far as she was concerned, the war had ended inside of her. As choices would go, this is her lifelong shiva.

As far as heralds of omens went, he had done his job in passing on this story across the realms. He had done it truly enough to grow its own wings and reverberate across the realms, until it reached her, the girl on the other side of the war. Neither would again question how the Lord would test them with fear and hunger and loss, and then still celebrate His glory. 
Shiva (Judaism): Week-long mourning period for close family.

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