That night in May i think it was Friday infact i am sure it was.......around 10.45pm i am sitting up watching MBC5 can not recall what and the moblie rings. I see from the caler ID its my DH ringing me from London, i was wondering why so late as i had spoken to him earlier that day at lenght.
His voice is muffeled and unclear , he asks who is still up out of the kids? They were all in bed, i think dd13 was reading in bed. I ask what is wrong? Then before he answers that dreaded feeling of bad news appears in the pit of my stomach , in my heart i felt it was Mil, she was unwell or taken seriously ill to hospital. He said something i think i heard it but was ot sure i did. So i told him to get a grip for a moment and tell me clearly what was wrong!
Then he said it, ''N (his youngest sister) is dead!'' What felt like a hundred thoughts rushed through my head in what seemed like a long pause as i tried to register this news. I asked him if he was sure and how? He said he had little detail and was sobbing heavily by this point. I felt so sad for him as he was alone and i just wanted to be there to offer him support, I asked him to ring me back in a bit oncc he composed himself and give me time to register this , i think i was shock, i just felt numb. I tried to visulise the last time i saw her or spoke to her , i saw her last October at mine for a coffee party for my dd sixeme.. I had spoken to her more recently on the phone but had only discussed her with Mil 4-5days ago. I just sat there not knowing what to feel what to do (not that tere was alot i could do so late at night alone in Algeria. DH finally rang back what seemed to be like forever he was better composed and able to tell meshe has been in a car accident tonight and had been killed. I asked after her 2 young children , he told me they were in hospital and her dh , sil and Mil too. That all were ingured and he didn't know the extent of the injuries but they were serous but she had died. I asked him if i should go to the Mil tonight, maybe ask a neighbour to drive me but DH said no don't leave the kids alone , that he was coming on the first flight from London in the Morning and that i was too send the kids to school as normal and not tell them until he was with us , i thought this wise.
That night i couldn't sleep , i cried alone, i made dua for N and the Mil , i wanted to call someone in the family but felt i didn't want to add their pain by asking to many questions with what suddenly didn't seem to adequte Arabic derjah.The information was still vaugue and detail were still unclear.
It felt as though i had just closed my eyes and the alarm was ringing for school, i must have hit the off button as i did actually go back to sleep although i don't think i fully woke up in the first place, my DD13 came in saying ummi get up we are late! I jumped from the bed drained in a way it worked to my advantage as in the rush there was no time to discusss my to be abcence that Saturday, i told the kids i had to go to up-town Algiers and would be home late and that they were to go to the neighbour for lunch and the i will square it with her inshaAllah.
With everyone of to school i quickly wizzed around , put my clothes on and packed a small bag with a change of home dress and hijab as i didn't know what lay ahead but i wanted to be ready. As this was my first expierence of death in Islam and death in the family since my own father when i was very young. I was panicing a little about going there, as i felt in adequate an didn't know what to expect, how to behave, what to say and what to do. Also at the same time i wanted to get there quickly so i could help in the washing of the corspe ready for burrial,, feeling that perhaps the family would be too distrute to do this and i may need to step in.
I was ready to leave, i went to my neighbour upstairs first to tell her to expect my kids for lunch. I told her what had happened and she was very kind and understanding. I asked her what i should expect whaen i got to the home of Mil and what was the custom around death for the Algerians. Taking to her helped me and gave me a better ability to feel at ease alhamduilah. I got to the main road and saw the bus approaching , i remember paying the conductor and the journey seemed like it took hours when infact in reality it was about 30-45 mins. I didn't get a seat as the bus was crowded with cummoutors heading to up town Algeris for thier jobs. I remember seeing various faces but my thoughts kept wandering. Every now and then i would realise my eyes had filled with tears. So i quickly came back from my thoughts and composed myself as i didn't want to bring attention to myself on the bus and have others watching me , although i felt they were anyhow perhaps it was apparent.
I remember hearing someone shouting the last call for BAB el Oued and i almost misssed the stop consumed in my own grief and thoughts. As i got off the bus i remember the 2 minuite walk to the home of Mil, life was normal bustling and busy, each step felt too quick at times, with in myself i felt a delay , a fear of entering the home and not being able to deal with it. My own recollection of death was that of laminating, hysterical crying, inflicting self haram. I was dreading what was to come.
As i approched the entrance to the bulding i was suprissed by the lack of people around ant the lack of overt grief. I saw my Bil at the top of the road so i indicated to him to come over to speak to me, as he got closer , the sleep deprived face with grief written all over it confirmed my fears that this was real. I offered him my duas at the time of death Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un ,انّا للہ و انّا الیہ راجعون translates as "Verily we belong to Allah, and to Allah we return." He replied something to me but i didn't make it out and was not about to ask for a repeat. I asked him if N was in the home? Meaning the body and he said no, this i found bizzare, why? As the body is realeased asap and seeing she died the day before why the delay i wondered.
I arrived at the home the front door was already open, the room was filled with women all sat on matresses on the floor. Most crying , you couldn't hear them sobbing just saw tears trickling down their faces, in amoungst the rush i spotted my Bil's wife so i went over to her and asked her what has happed. She simply said N has died. She pointed out Mil to me sat there in amoungst the women, so i went over to her to hug her and offer my condolences, she held me tightly and sobbed her heart out , telling me N was dead and gone forever, i offered her the above dua and told her to have sabr and to be strong. we must have been in this clinch for 60 secs, i could hear women asking who was this person , meaning me? I then went to sit own in this already crowded room and i asked my Bil's wife what had happeed and she was able to tell me. The car N was traveling in had been in an accident and no other vechile was involved it was unexplained how the car have over turned 4-5 times and she was thrown from the car and died on impact. The car contain 6 persons 2 of them N own children , N was the only fatality. At this point i felt in my heart this was written for her, it was N time , it cold not have been any other way, this is how Allah planned it. This is how she was brought to her death and all it for a reason and all has a wisdom behind it. As the morning passed more people came and went all sat eargly awaiting the body, it had also emerged she was killed outside Algeris , she had gone to a wedding with her inlaws and it was on the way back in a remote area called Laugout which is about a 10-12 hours car journey from Algeris. Now it was all making sense , their older sister who incedently was over from Paris for a holiday of 10days and was due back today had gone last night with the oldest brother to bring the body back to Algeris. So naturally this was going to take time. As the morning moved along more familiar faces appeared, N's older sisters, cousins friends and negihbours, i also saw a very beautiful patient mourning going on here very dignified and calm mashaAllah , i have to hand it to the Algerians mashaAllah they are very calm in this situation and there is a protacall in place. Maybe this is to make ease of the situation. i learned that the main morning is for 3 days when the home will be filled with so many people, some that wil stay the night and day for 3 days. Some women will take the task of cooking food for all who need it , like the family of the deceased and people who have come from far and wide to mourn. Really the food needs to be cooked is on a large scale due to the shere numbers, in this case it was the cousins of the deceased who took this job , with the sister helping out here and there. In some ways i fel this a burden on the family as the cost involed is too much and what if you don't have? On another point it makes sense as there were many who came from far and wide , guest from France, UK , Oran, Jejil ect so these people needed a bed and food in reality. while most could not eat for the first 3-5 meals hence making themselves weak plus with all the grief, the food was made anyhow and offered in another home , a neighbour had offered her kitchen and dinnning room for these 3 days to the mourning family to make things easy for them. Again a beautiful in sight into unity form neighbours mashaAllah. I asked if they needed me to do anything? they told me it was ok as they had enough helpers. Around 11am the convoy from UK arrived and my DH was one of them,I never got to speak with him untill latter that eveing which was fine as he needed to be with his family right now and they needed him. I saw him as he came in to greet his mother and offer her support. This was to be the only closeness he had with his mother for the next 2-3days due to the sher volume of mourners and events.
We all continued to wait for the body of N but they delay was now with the corener , he wanted to visist the scence of the accident and refused to sign realese papers until he did. Also another thing noted in Algeria so much red tape and papper work to get through. As night fell news was coming in that she was coming but then we were told although they were on route they would not arrive until 11pm and then they will take her straight to the morge as the Corpse had been on the road in a closed van for 12hrs and it was hot weather so the risk of smelling it was wise to refrderate her until the burial tomorrow. At news of this my dh took me home as my kids had been alone and we needed to break the news to them. It had been a long hard day , i was drained but alhamduilah it was not a bad as i had first imagned.
This is a nasheed that really captures the events of death for me and its one that we used to listen to often but after the death of N my DD13 does not allow me to play this in her precence anymore.
We are only just being able to talk about the events of that MAY 2008 that will haunt us for a long time. Even for myself i was not able to blog this before as it was to painful buti wish i ha as the recollection has lost some of its impact.