A Grammar of Vision 2: For Mohamed Amiin

Behind me are stacks of cardboard boxes. Their sides are printed with the name of a local mineral water company. Scotch tape holds their flaps from opening. Inside each one are the remnants of a person, though with their permanent marker notes and blushes of dust it is as if they are the forgotten miscellany from a residential move.

After DNA tests are run on these bones, the commissioner tells me, the War Crimes Investigation Commission will contact the family members that are still alive and give them the bones for burial. A final burial. I am shown photos of the most recent one. A crowd of people in a badland, centered by a coffin wrapped in white cloth, and the women’s faces frozen in anguish as if the death had just occurred, or had been accumulating within them for more than two decades.

How do you reflect or comment on a conflict that has no relation or significance to your life? This is the first question that arose. Can we say that there is a conflict that has no relation or significance to our lives? I remember coming home from class in 7th grade to find my entire family on the couch. Like all others in America – and many throughout the world, I’ve learned from traveling – they were watching TV. I was worried we would go to war. Why would this worry me, at 12 years old? Why would I not be worried about the smoking towers and the people like me inside them? Like an animal, my heart beat violently and I was ready to hide but I did not understand. Like all other living things – maybe even the trees, and maybe even the carrots and heads of lettuce in the fields – I knew war was the great absurdity. If it came, even if I never saw it, I knew I would never again live a life like I had been living up to then.

Read the rest over at A Grammar of Vision.