My mother in law had two sisters, both older than her and sadly the eldest sister passed away last Saturday afternoon. It was expected in this case as she had been floundering for some time. On each visit I could see she was becoming weaker and it seems that she had not been eating at all. She was surrounded by her family and I imagine now she is with her sister watching over everyone while drinking cay and gossiping.
Again because I did not know her name (and I am quite embarrassed to say this) I called her Auntie Muriel. In fact I call both sisters Auntie Muriel because they looked so similar. Now both Daughter and The Turk call them Auntie Muriel too which is a little sad but I think as long as they are in their thoughts that is all that should matter isn’t it? Perhaps not.
This time around I was prepared for the grief that was to follow. It was still overwhelming but perhaps I was slightly removed or hardened to the reactions that followed.
I also paid more attention to the ritual of prayer which is fascinating. I had The Turk translate a lot of what happened so forgive me if this is not spot on and other pieces I had to Google for correction.
When someone passes away in the Village they are returned to their home where the grieving family arrive to help bath and prepare the body for the afterlife. Auntie Muriel was covered in a white cotton sheet called a kafan and everyone had an opportunity to say their goodbyes. The Imam arrived and started the prayer Allahu Akbar (Allah is greatest). He then proceeded to recite verses from the Koran. I started to get lost at this point as it is all in Arabic. The Turk (who is certainly not a religious scholar) said that the Imam did the Thana and Fatiha verses followed by part of the Tashahud verse. He offered his D’ua which is a supplication followed by the fourth tekbir before it was concluded with a peace greeting.*
As expected Auntie Muriel was then taken by the men of the family to the cemetery for burial while the women waited back at the house. On Sunday morning we travelled to the cemetery for another service by the Imam.
Like the call to prayer that drifts over the village 5 times a day the ceremony itself is very peaceful and beautiful to bare witness to. Of course I do not have a great understanding of the religious aspect however it does not mean that did not appreciate the sentiment during the ceremony. Auntie Muriel was a sweet little lady and like my mother in law she was definitely loved and respected as again there were hundreds who attended both at the house and at the cemetery for service. Sadly I do not have a photo of Auntie Muriel on my computer but I do have a few in an old album somewhere. I will definitely have to have a look for one so I will put up another of my favourite photos of my mother in law. This photo was taken on New Years Eve – just a day before she passed away.
I sat with the final Auntie Muriel yesterday and held her hand for some time. She talks constantly to me and although I probably know 1 in 10 words I always smile and kiss her hand when I sit by her. In all my years of visiting her I have yet to hear her raise her voice. She knew how much my mother in law loved me and for this reason she is so kind, knowing that I have pretty much no clue what is going on, but she always ensures that I sit next to her as pride of place.
She is the only sister left now.
*This information was provided by my memory along with The Turk’s knowledge. Anything posted today is posted with the utmost respect to Islam and its ceremonies. I appreciate your opinion and advice however I ask that you respect me if you feel the need to leave a post.