Underneath the ruins of the Islamic City of Marawi

Underneath the ruins, there lay her loved ones. Miles away from her hometown, there was no funeral to attend, no candles to light, no prayers to utter for the dead and no bodies to bury. A silent shock lines a beautiful Maranao face that communicates uncertainty of how and when to mourn when her deceased were nowhere. Traces of their deaths were but flashing images in her memories.

Underneath the ruins of Marawi City lay her father and brother. Idris and Jalal were there names. Idris, 55 years old, is a loving father prime in his age to impart to his young the wisdom of his days. Jalal, 25 years old, is a promising young man with dreams of future triumphs. Their photographs and videos are all that they left in this world of their faces, their names but history in the clan’s genealogy. In records, bulletin boards and news, they are but cadavers 1 and 2, mere numbers in a list of deaths.

Underneath the crumbles and wreck, a tiny spot in the map, an unmarked graveyard, there lay her beloved father and brother. The grave made not by her hands. Nor was it made by hired hands. The grave was made by a bomb that crushed their home. It was a bomb that from artillery that was bought by taxpayers’ money. It was a bomb she helped pay for. It was a bomb that killed her loved ones.

When the bombs rained in her community, her family ran. Norhaya ran like she never ran in her life away from the bombardments. Her screams were drowned by the deafening sound of bombs that hit houses or land on the ground. She was unsure if it was her that felt shaky and dizzy or if it was the ground on her feet that shook on tremors.

Norhaya looked back. She saw her father and brother ran back to the house. They forgot something, they shouted. They ran inside the house disappearing from her view. A bombed hit the house. She froze. She waited. She never saw them come back out. More bombs rained. She ran, leaving the crushed house demolished by the bomb. She ran, leaving her loved ones underneath the ruins.

She left the ruined city. She left for life. But, living, then on, would be difficult. Her thoughts were not of life. Her thoughts were of death--- the deaths of her father and her brother, where they lay underneath the ruins.

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Meet Norhaya at the 2nd Wave of the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NHIM) on July 26-29 in Iligan City. Want to know more about the NIHM? Please e-mail us at services@rmp-nmr.org