We were paying our respects to my aunt's mother in the cemetery in Windsor, Canada. I had just finished silently dedicating a faateha to a woman I'd never met. I'd looked her square in the face in pictures at my aunt's house, the gentle old woman looking right through me, as if I were the one that wasn't there, two people destined to meet only through ink on paper. My aunt and her brother stood at their mother's old grave with their children a bit longer while I stood a little away from them, my arms clasped behind my back, giving them the privacy that I felt they needed. I didn't want to intrude on their circle. My gaze wandered to the other gravestones around us. The summer sun was helping the grass and the trees grow. The cemetery was really quite beautiful. The sky was blue and the breeze assuring.
"We know a lot of the people buried here," my aunt's brother said as he walked up to me. He was looking down at the graves around us somewhat apologetically. "I've already reserved a plot next to my mother's." I suddenly felt uncomfortable as I always do in cemeteries, wondering if I'm accidentally walking over buried people. He pointed at three graves in front of me. I noticed that the stones were almost identical in design. Down to the last names. And the date of passing.
"A family we knew. A young man, his father, and grandfather had a car accident. The young man and his grandfather passed away on the spot but the father lingered in a coma for a few days before he too died."
We looked on at the three graves, the both of us standing with our heads slightly cocked to one side. "Three generations gone." My aunt's brother went back to his sister who was sitting by her mother's grave, quietly reading Quranic verses from a small prayer book.
It was then that I saw it clearly. My name in print, what I adoringly gaze at each time I am published or mentioned someplace important. "Khadija Ejaz". I live for that visual. It is pure selfish love, it makes me feel important in a deliciously thrilling way. But it was here that I realised what would be the last time I would have my name in print. On my gravestone. The final lonely dedication to the arrogance of anonymous dust.