I know little about him, not even his name really —
Is the J silent?
Would he have pronounced the first letter of his last name with a glottal fricative?
Our first meeting would have been awkward:
Hi, nice to meet you…
and if he hadn’t picked up on my hesitation, I’d have opted for the silent consonant —
Is it, Am – ad?
I like to imagine him laughing at my clumsy greeting.
If I were really curious, I’d consult the WWW and discover the WWWWHW of his life:
Who was in his family,
What he did for a living,
Where he went to college,
When he joined his mosque,
How he was being remembered.
Why he was there last Friday
I’d rather not know these things.
Such knowledge would only bring the horror closer.
But I did hold his picture in one hand the other day,
an electric tea light in the other,
and along with a few hundred people in my home town
said a prayer in three religions united in one voice on a bracing cold day half a world away
that we could evolve into a world where nobody would have to mourn for strangers.