I didn’t know there was space in my heart for another mother’s son but there was.
Hameed Zahran was my son’s batch mate from law school – I never saw him face to face but his zest for life, music and fellowship flowed through my son’s mentions many times. I learnt, between work, cooking and a hundred other things we do in a home, that he loved composing his own music, sang often, carried his guitar with him and loved to travel.
And that he was the soul and the sound of almost every singing competition. That he could sing in Sinhala and English too. That he sang with gusto and fervour, a young man whose talent was more than a measure of his capacity to give of himself to others.
When on Thursday the 02nd of March, one day after Lent started, my son suddenly burst in on me and told me that his friend had died, the shock of it just took my tiredness at the end of a long work day, away.
How? I wanted to know. What happened? How does a lively 22 year old die like that?
To cut a long story short, he just happened to be at the beach side, accompanying two other friends looking for cardboard boxes for an event, when along comes two policemen who choose to frisk him on the rail tracks. Hameed hands the policemen his wallet and the phone and the next nano second, a train comes along and hits him in the back.
He dies 24 hours later in hospital. After an operation in which doctors fought hard to save his life – but could not. His body was damaged too much by the train hitting him at that speed, at that distance.
I try to hold back tears. But they flow freely, as freely as they did when my father passed away almost four years ago.
A son from another mother. His memory stares back at me, his cheerful eyes lighting up the photo on his Facebook wall.
I can’t even bring myself to think of his grieving parents. I heard about the parents having to wash his body before burial as the Moslem custom requires them to. What struck me like a thunder was what his mother would have felt, washing him in death, as she did in life as a little boy.
I could feel the beat of her heart, being torn apart, muscle by muscle, vein by vein.
No mother would want to go through such pain. It was not just unbearable. It was unneccesary ; and in vain.
One more conversation, one more song from his carefree style of singing, his hair flowing, his eyes glowing , one more moment of living a vibrant life, one he was snatched so soon from.
His friends remember Hameed the patient listener, the wandering free spirit, the friend who always had a smile. And a song. And a word of comfort.
A gracious soul, vivacious in life.
Grief has no words. It does have a place, one that squeezes everything out of you.
As I write this, I try to hold back the tears. I never knew him – I only knew him through my son’s words. Yet his spirit reached out and touched me, a young man whose zest for life, for music and for friendship descended through it all.
Who was responsible for his death? Why did he have to go so early?
Those are the questions his friends, as would-be lawyers are asking. They will undoutbtedly find their answers.
Until then, goodbye sweet prince – may the turf lie gently over you.
You live up there, in the clouds, where you would serenade Heaven with your music.
Down here, your friends will always miss you.