Aug 19, 2012

Eid at the Cemetery

So I stayed the whole night awake knowing that the slightest nap would take away the chance to visit the cemetery with my mother on Eid Al Fitr's morning, just like any other Muslim Family's tradition on this occasion. Regardless of my personal beliefs and projections on such "habits", it was nevertheless an occasion not-to-be-missed for me to spend with my dear mother especially after the distance between us she was telling me about in the last period of time. Camera in hand? check; and now we've hit the road.

Can you Imagine what I kept thinking all the time we spent there? I kept constantly monitoring all the mental thoughts "rivering" inside my head making all that noise that almost covered the loud chatters of the surrounding; thoughts that mostly were the child of the observations I made at the time, part of my recent on-going constellation of questions about our social behavior. It was time to take out my camera, which to my surprise, was near empty and allowed me only a few shots before its battery went totally dried out. It was my opportunity to know what to focus on, and in a matter of a few seconds of course. I was still intimidated by the visual confrontation with faces at the time of a current emotion, where it would obviously be rude to take a photograph, nevertheless I couldn't ignore the crocodile tears of the most, nor could I ever forget the groups of young veiled women on the sides of some tombs sipping their morning coffee as if Eid was only an occasion for them to meet once or twice a year.

During my on-going thoughts inside that vast prison, I had already made up a list of things "I Love" about the cemetery. So here goes the parody list first:
  • I love how half of the women come to the cemetery on the Eid morning all dressed up as if they were spending the night at Skybar
  • I love how the presence of dead people around the living forces an unbelievable serenity but at the same time can't shut the filthy mouths of some of the guys there.
  • I love how even the remembrance of the dead becomes so easily a business opportunity for those who sell tomb ornaments (originally should be picked up for free) and coffee sellers INSIDE the cemetery
  • I love how women bring their teenage girls all made up trying to show her up most probably trying to fetch her a groom.
  • I love how an ordinary man would be heading directly to his mother's (mostly) tomb where at the same time his eyes fall on another man's attractive wife and simply can't resist bending his head 180 degrees though he's 1 minute far from reciting the words of Allah
  • I love how the graph of morals and ethics supposedly forced by Islamic religion in a Muslim majority area is heading for an indescribable decline.
  • I love how all Syrian children around town become beggars, all of them being sick with incurable diseases such as blindness and paralysis, but to my and their surprise, the amount of 3000LBP (2$) is enough to cure any disease apparently and help them hop to our service.

Now for the real "I Love" list:
  • I love how distant family members who constantly seem to avoid bumping into each other are forced to meet at the steps of their deceased's tomb.
  • I love how the city never sleeps on the night of Eid: watching the Foul and Hummus Shop preparing for the next morning was enough to restore some of the Eid aroma I had long lost.
  • I love the genuine tears that drop from the eyes of most of the people holding their Qurans bowing down in respect in front of almighty Allah in respect and deep humility
Honestly? I come to a point where comparing both lists is actually meaningless. I can't believe we've come to such a point...

As far as photography is concerned, I recall the last time I stepped foot in the cemetery (which was also my first), a phone camera was the only camera I had ever held, and I still remember the shots. Today, it's the same spot, same location, newer camera, more guts and courage. Considering the significance of today's morning, I could not summon enough nerve to stand up in front of people and shoot them in their face, nor could I keep footage of some of the topics I mentioned above. Let's hope my next cemetery visit can be much more fruitful (which is normally fixed two and a half months after this Eid).

Happy Eid everyone...

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