Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A sad glorious Autumn day

A glorious early Autumn day: clear blue skies, warm sunshine, and six coffins of diminishing sizes on trestles against a verdant lawn. This was the sight that greeted mourners from Brent who made the long trip across London to Ilford for the funeral of the Kua family at the Garden of Peace Muslim Cemetery. The mourners included relatives and friends,  staff and pupils from Crest Academy and Braintcroft Primary School, the Director of Brent Children and Families Department, firefighters and the Borough Commander and other officers from Brent Police..

After prayers the burials took place. Mother and teenage daughters alternating with the younger children who were buried in a different part of the cemetery.  As we moved from one part of the cemetery to the other for each burial,  the enormity of what had happened was brought home against the background of prayer, handfuls of clay thudding on the wooden coffins, and the incongruous sound of a mechanical digger excavating yet another grave.

Bassam Kua, the father, arms wrapped in plaster and burn marks on his face, brave beyond anything I have seen before,  was supported by relatives and friends, as he moved from burial to burial. Hanin (14) and Basma (13) were buried close to their mother Muna.  As burial followed burial, each one feeling like yet another powerful blow, we came to that of little Amal, aged just 9, who had been remembered with love, joy and that easy familiarity children have, by her classmates on Monday.  She was buried near her brothers Mustufa aged 5 and Yehya aged two.

Speaking after Amal's grave had been filled in, the officiator reminded mourners that in Islam a child under 15 who died was seen as massoom (blameless) and would go straight to heaven. He reflected on the family's life in this country and the struggle for freedom in their native Palestine.

It was a calm and dignified occasion with everyone attending appearing to gain strength and solidarity not only from sharing the unbearable experience with each other, but from witnessing the courage and determination of Bassam Kua. One member of the family was missing and in everyone's thoughts. Nur, aged 16, remains in critical condition in hospital.

She has an entire community supporting her struggle.

1 comment:

  1. Martin, thank you for writing such a thoughtful and sensitive piece about this terrrible waste of life. I don't know any of the details of this tragedy, but if anyone reading doesn't have a smoke alarm or hasn't checked the batteries recently JUST DO IT