Friday, March 30, 2012


So a friend died, he was a young man in his thirties. He died in a single roomed hovel he and his mother called home. He died of tuberculosis. Getting the medicine was too complicated although it was supposed to be free. 

His old mother used to smoke, this was unusual in the muslim women of Xinjiang. Too poor to afford cigarettes she'd smoke roll-ups. Roll-ups were a part of an elaborate ritual I remember my brother conducting back in the 80's when we were students. Ironic that this elderly woman had no notion of such rituals but used to use a pair of tweezers to hold the very end in order to smoke the last dregs, the butt end would disappear into her toothless mouth. 

The last time I saw her was at her son's funeral, he was placed in a cold hard Xinjiang grave though the grief of his mother was warm and tender. In the words of an old Hebrew lament:

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Is there any sorrow like my sorrow?

She died a few months later.  

This one is for sale:

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