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When Cemeteries Are Flooded, Where Do You Bury the Dead?

by Staff
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Ten days after Iman’s funeral, the village gathered to grieve once more.

Earlier that week, Mr. Akbar’s mother, Sahti, was diagnosed with malaria, given medicine and sent home from a hospital in Hyderabad, one of the largest cities in Sindh Province, to recover. Then late one night, she took a turn for the worse. There were no boats nearby to take her to the hospital, so Mr. Akbar and his family gathered around her bed and prayed for her to live. She died within hours.

As the men mourned, they sat on the embankment under the shade of a thatched awning — a small respite from the day’s oppressive heat. Relatives arrived one by one to pay their respects, and the men stood, touched hands with the newcomers, lifted their palms to the sky and prayed.

With a cup of warm milk tea in his hand, Mr. Akbar told stories of the polite, strong-willed woman who had raised him. For most of his life, he said, she was usually the first person he saw when he returned home from the fields, waiting by the gate — no matter how late it was — to make sure he returned home safely. Even when he told her he was an adult, a father himself to two children, she refused to give up the habit.

“She told me, ‘You are still my child, you’ll always be a child to me,’” he said.

He paused for a moment, then added: “There is no greater relationship than the one between a mother and her child.”

Before she died, his mother asked him to bury her next to his father who had died a year earlier. But his father’s grave site was still completely submerged. So Mr. Akbar laid her to rest on a hilltop nearby. She was alone.

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