I push the curtains aside with exhausted hands. It is a habit that I’ve always had; whenever I move to a new place I rush to the window to examine the view. I look at the fenced yard* before my hotel. It is not a solid fence so I can see the sandy yard beyond it with numerous rocks where every rock is placed at the grave of a martyr. I sigh and place my hand on the glass as if trying to know the story of each martyr by virtually touching the stone upon their graves. I utter a low “thank you” and I feel a sudden wave of silliness at the triviality of my words. Two words for thousands of lives! How deficient language is?! I lower my head in shame. Is this all I can offer? Two cold, empty words? Why can’t I offer my life for theirs that they willingly offered? Not necessarily that I should die, not that I mind that, but I can live up to what they died for. “Live up to what they died for” I hear myself saying and admiring the echo of the words.
“Mayada” I hear my mother’s voice interrupting my stream of thoughts, “we will miss the bus. You are always holding us late!” I close the curtains with an objecting “I am not!” It is an ever going battle between me and my mother; she always complains that I keep her late while I insist I am a normal person, even punctual. But I adore her. I wish I had her eyes!
Suffering from motion sickness makes me hate all buses, but I had no other option but riding that bus with my parents. After a 10-minute ride, we reach this mighty mountain. We dismount and I stand motionless before the gigantic mountain with its gray and black shades. A huge solid rock! How small I look before it?! How trivial my existence compared to its?! How meaningless my presence compared to the rich years it has witnessed?! I bow in respect and shame again. To my surprise, I felt a hot breeze softly rushing around my cheeks as if it was a hand gently raising my bowed chin whispering, “You do count.” I miraculously hold back my tears while getting back to the bus. Is it a miracle? I am a strong believer in miracles. Every beat of my heart is a miracle, every breath and every blink. I turn around to see the last of the strong, tender mountain thinking “I saw Paradise.”**
* Jannat Al Baqi’ – the graveyard in Madinah where thousands of Sahaba (Prophet’s companions) martyrs are buried.
**Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said Uhud is a mountain in Paradise.