Return to Love Letter, a.k.a My Grandmother’s Funeral

I

At 2:30 exactly, my mother told me grandma had passed away minutes ago. We immediately arranged for a return to our hometown, where mom’s family still reside.

I dressed in black, tied my dyed hair, removed my nail polish and cut my fingernails.

We are going to the funeral.

II

There are many new buildings. I can barely recognize my hometown. Getting into the taxi, hearing my mom give directions- I forgot the name of our neighborhood.

III

Arriving, a wailing woman takes me into her arms. I don’t recognize her at first, but then she whispers “I missed you”, and I remember the voice of an old friend’s mother.

IV

At ‘al madhafa’, a guestroom, weeping women surround my grandmother’s still body; singing, uttering blessings, and remembering her good deeds and celebrated qualities. I can’t see her face, but they said she looked peaceful.

V

I’m kissing a lot of women I don’t know. I feel young and out of place.

VI

Mom sends me upstairs with our stuff to my uncle’s apartment so I can stay with my cousin. My cousin is 16 years old. She speaks and acts like an old woman. Her world feels so alien to me.

VII

I go downstairs, sit on my grandma’s bed, and then notice the sharp glance Em Fadi throws my way; she does not like it. I get up, sit next to my mom, stand up whenever someone enters the room, kiss more people, say the right words, express the right emotions.

I’m suffocating.

VIII

I go to the kitchen every five minutes to walk a little and drink some water. I never liked how the water tasted here. Mom gives me a ‘mlabaseh’ –a type of candy- it’s too sweet and sticks to my teeth.

I want to go back home.

IX

Mom and I are invited to sleep at my other uncle’s house. I see my little cousins again, they’ve grown so much. I feel cut off and disconnected, but I enjoy their genuine love.

The middle child, Khawla, asks where grandma is. Mom says she’s now reunited with her husband in heaven, finally back together, drinking matteh and taking long walks like they used to, away from this futile reality.

Khawla sounds convinced, and asks no more.

X

We’re having dinner. The meat and the potatoes are cold. The tea stale.

Grandma’s dead.

I kinda miss the sandwiches she used to make whenever we visited her.

XI

I haven’t smoked in 8 hours.

XII

I finally take off my bra.

Grandma is one lucky bitch for leaving this hazard behind.

That was an ugly day.

XIII

Funerals are exhausting.

I miss the internet.

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