Grubby hands and paint splashed uniforms greet me at the doorway. Crooked grins displaying newly broken baby teeth and gummy gaps are my present. The class bombards me with hugs, and I try to keep up with their enthusiastic recollections of their week at school, friends, family, games, and their boyish 6 year old lives. They compete for a smile and an affectionate tousling of their hair…and when I don’t respond, I’m forced to,by the desperation on their innocent faces.
I only used to volunteer at their class once a week, last year. But the memories we had in that KG classroom will last forever. In their eyes, I was their bridge between child and teacher, constantly deferring scoldings and punishments…and when my persuasion on their behalf didn’t work, I snuck them a pat on the shoulder while they sulked at the time out chair.
I remember lingering at recess time with a Lego building genius, an actor, a car racer, an artist, a fighter, a writer, a child. And then I remember Muhtashem.
I’ve been so caught up these past weeks, I haven’t had any time to help in their class, so when I received an email yesterday morning, I was shattered. My little student died.
Driving back late at night on the way back from a family trip, Muhtashem’s family got into a car accident. His mother, father, and baby sister were all in the car when it happened. And they all climbed out of that car, except for him.
God says, “Every soul shall taste death…”. And indeed, young or old, every soul shall taste the pangs of death.
Gone are the days when I’ll be able to pinch your chubby cheek, snuggle with you while I read your class a story, cherish your hand made cards, help you solve a math problem, watch your puppet show,or marvel at your wonderful, big heart.
As I hug your patient mother at your funeral, my eyes wander over her shoulder that my head cries on, to your sparkling, small white casket. I whisper between tears, of happy memories and a gentle child who loved everyone. And she nods, silent with grief and kissed my cheek.
May his grave be ever lit with the obedience of his youth, and his innocent purity and may his wonderful parents be granted the glad tidings of an escort in paradise and compensation for their pain, for the Prophet reassured them that their lost child’s happiness is like that of the birds in Jannah.