One Year and Eleven Months

By Hawa Y. Mire

one year and eleven months

We drive through the winding grave site unable to pinpoint at first exactly which grave ayeeyo is in.

We stop, section 12.

Aabo asks me to jump out and check the number of the grave in front of me. I open the door, drop into crunchy fresh snow and use my fingertips to wipe away snow from slate. Abdullah. Muslim. The right section.

We turn the car around and just as suddenly as nearly two years ago I am back here again, standing over her grave- all of my aunts, her children, around me. Lips moving, Quran under breath. The kind of sobbing that sounds as dry as tinder used to spark fire, the heaves an inhalation of smoke. My legs move, muscle memory. They know precisely the location of her grave.

We pile out.

Aabo, me, my visiting uncle from Australia.

His aunt lying in the ground beneath us.

We huddle around one another. The white snow disappearing into the gravel beneath us and read the requisite prayer over the dead. All I can think about is whether or not she hears us. Whether or not she is sitting up in her grave watching us pray over her.

My father leaves first, first to arrive. I'm next and my uncle follows long moments later.

The boot patterns of melting snow follow us onto the grey speckled pavement. The car is eerily silent until we drive through the same winding roads, and exit from the main gate. The air thick begins to loosen itself around my lungs.

Aabo begins to suddenly speak                                                                                      it was this kind of cold when we buried her but we were lucky, the ground was hard enough, not wet so it made the job easy.

He doesn't talk often of what happened that day after the women left the mosque, and the men went to bury my grandmother.

we made sure to put her in a good sturdy box so she wouldn’t get wet.

In less time than it takes him to utter those words, I’m quickly back in the mosque where I saw her last. Her body shrouded in white, being placed into a large wooden coffin. As the janazah began, and the iman began to intone the familiar words, sidling under his words was the steady pounding of nails into coffin.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

The closing of lid, the finality of her body taken from us. That was the first time in weeks I cried, huge rolling tears dripping from my chin to chest.

Sad again, pained again, grieving again, I sit in the back of the car. My father and uncle continue talking about all kinds of everyday things. And I sit, looking out the window, thinking of how our noses go crooked the moment just after death.

And I try not to cry.