I find myself looking for traces of death at a spot a man was blown off by a petrol bomb in Eastleigh. I do not know what I am looking for, or how death looks like. Blood stains drying out on the soil, irrigating it with colour? Pieces of the bicycle he was riding? Some kind of evidence that there was struggle between body and soul? Dead plants? It has been one week and the spot looks more alive than ever. The world has moved on.
It is now fourteen years after the 1998 US-Embassy bomb-blast that left hundreds dead, I walk past the memorial park, and the well-manicured grass breaks me. What gives it the clout to shine so bright in the sun, to bury traces of death? How dare it ask us to forget the unsightliness of 7th August?
Then it hits me, nothing stops on death spots. Everything around these spots moves on. Nature is shamelessly heartless, it continues living. It bows not under the heavy weight of death. New plants grow over broken glass from road accidents. New buildings sprout up where one collapsed and tens died. Where one life ends, another begins. An inadequacy of death.
On the spot I once had a car accident, goats graze and children play in the puddles of water. Anthills look like they have been there forever. Nothing tells you of that fateful day. Not even a piece of glass buried deep in the soil. But my body still has scars. I still cannot bear a firm handshake.
On my mother’s grave, leaves want to be left alone to decay on top of the epitaph; twigs want to raise families as well. No matter how much father and I weed, they are always coming back. They do not know that underneath, lays a woman I do not want the world to forget. I do not want nature to separate us. Or to create the slightest illusion of ‘gone’, ‘over and done.’ I am tempted to speak to them. ‘Hey, you just don’t come and grow here, I am trying to connect with my mother’. It’s unfair when nature demands to move on, when plantlets want to grow over that spot I come to speak to her. Her epitaph, her face.
Nature then stands unfeeling towards death. Or perhaps, nature does not linger much over unnecessary mourning. This needless melancholy that we burden ourselves with. But it is heartbreaking to watch nature move on while your mind is still imprisoned by these grisly memories. It is like watching an ex learn to hold another hand, begin to enjoy the company of another, laugh at other jokes, begin to enjoy other things you are not part of.
Or perhaps, death likes to camouflage, to make a living where it kills, sprouting plantlets to hide traces of itself.
We mourn, but nature moves on