i believe but i don’t know

Sometimes I need religion. A written or unwritten list of statements that tells you loud and clear what you are, what it is, what happened, what will happen. Sometimes faith isn’t enough.

Sometimes I just don’t know certain things.


What happens to the soul after you die?

Such an innocent question when asked as a matter of fact – in a film, in a song, in an afternoon chat, in some church with doors left open so that you can hear from the outside. On the covers of thin books with no pictures.

Such a pressing question when death has just passed you by, taking away someone you love.


Where’s Dad’s soul?

Does it really stay home until the fortieth day and what does it do? Does it wander or does it watch over us?
Does it really enter my, my mum’s and my sisters’ dreams or those are just memories mixed with thoughts – a midnight screening inside our minds? Pieces of fiction?

Does it see us? Does it stand behind us while we’re looking at the mirror (afraid that it can’t see its own image), lighting the candle on the table, putting away all the tools from the yard or stacking firewood, left unchopped.

“Does granddad see me when I’m in the toilet?”

Or is he here at all?


I stand over my father’s grave, covered in flowers.

I apologise for being so late. For missing everything, having been away. For failing to say goodbye to him. For not having seen him for the last time.

For not calling him when I knew he was feeling bad.

For not helping him with anything.

I talk to him and I don’t know… can he hear me at all?

Can he see me?

Does he accept my apology?

The soul leaves after the fortieth day, they say. But where does it go?

Will it get reborn? Will Dad forget about us? Maybe all that will be left in this flowers-covered grave is a pile of indifferent bones?

Can bones see and hear?

Or will it watch over us? It will join the souls of its kin, as one Spanish friend of mine who lost his father the same way told me, and together they will watch over us and help us in hard times?

It will continue to live invisibly and when I turn at it at some moment of my life I will know it makes sense?

Or it will live within me since I exist thanks to part of its light anyway?

It will live in the house Dad had been building all his life?

In the words he said? (Because words never stay in the past only, they travel through time along wih us.)


I don’t know.

I believe but I don’t know.

I wish but I don’t know.

I know that just before I opened the front door, after the long journey home, I saw a huge shooting star – brighter than the light of the street lamps.

I believe it was Dad.

His new way to say ‘welcome’.

But I don’t know…

Photograph by Abi Ashra



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