We landed in Zurich, in September 2015. It was not summer anymore, and the Autumn was about to begin. The day we came, the temperature dropped to 5°C. We stayed in a service apartment for the first 3 weeks. The view from our window was beautiful. A vast stretch of green lawn, wide paths, lots of trees and the Uteliberg mountains in the backdrop, I thought it was a park. Then I noticed a cross and I guessed, maybe there was a chapel nearby.

Only days later did I realize that it was a crematorium. I belong to the land, where the crematoriums and cemeteries are considered haunted and abandoned. But here, it was maintained and cared for, like any other public property. The plants were watered, the bushes were cut, the lawns were mowed. There were people coming to visit their loved ones at their graves. If it was sunny enough, there would be lots of people around. Some of them, just out for a walk, mothers strolling around with their babies in the prams and even young couples walking hand in hand.

There was this one particular grave, right in front of our window, which every passerby used to wait at. I was very curious about that one, what could be so special about that grave, that anyone who walked past it, always stopped and spent a moment by it. So one evening, I decided to take a walk to the crematorium. I was a bit hesitant, since it was evening and not sure about whether there would be any restrictions in entering. However, l decided to go. Abu was more than happy to go out.

So it was, the Friedhof Sihlfed Krematorium. I can’t stress this point enough. But even after entering the gates, this place didn’t remind me of the cemeteries that I have been to before. There were stone benches, fountains, huge statues of angels and lots and lots of trees and bushes. There was a long pathway, right in the middle of the cemetery that I assume, leads to the chapel inside the cemetery. I took a walk around. Most of the graves were ornate. Many of them were built in the 19th century. The older ones were decorated with huge and heavy stone sculptures of saints and guardian angels. Out of those, I found weeping angels very interesting. There were family graves, with more than a couple of tombstones, and all of them filled with inscriptions of names and the year of death.  The more recent graves were adorned with flowerbeds, solar powered lighting and other curios like crosses of stones, Cupid like angels etc. There were benches every few meters, taps and water cans which were left to be used by whoever came to visit the graves.

It was almost time to leave,and I had no idea how much was left for me to cover. Anyhow, I could not leave without finding that grave which always intrigued me. I skipped the remaining paths and walked towards that part of the cemetery which could be seen from our window. And when I found it, truly, it was heartbreaking. It was a grave of two young brothers. I don’t remember their ages, but I remember that they were 10 years apart. Their pictures were put up at the grave. A cute little boy and a handsome teenager. Their grave was a well-mowed tiny little lawn and filled with a lot of curios. And now I knew, why everyone stopped by them.

On my way back, all I could think was about those two boys. ….

About that man, who would very often come, with a little boy, and would stay around for a while, watering the plants or mending the lights and so on.

About that lady who sat by the grave for hours.

About that group of old men who came and how they all waited patiently,  as one among them stood gazing at the grave with folded hands.

I walked back, with a heavier heart.

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It has been over a year since we left Zurich, Switzerland. My heart fills with regret thinking whether I have made the most of my time there. Have I made use of the wonderful oppurtunity to stay in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Sadly, I have to say no. Blame it on the weather, our toddler-led routines etc, but now looking back I do feel that many of those weekends, when we just cooked and cleaned and slept or wasted in those petty fights could have turned into some beautiful memories with a backdrop of the Alps.

On a different note, isnt this what Life is all about?

Life may throw in difficult situations and we will manage to find excuses. Sometimes ego and hatred may weigh more than relationships. Unless we make the most of the opportunities, savour the beautiful moments and treasure the love we share, aren’t we gonna regret towards the end? We are given one beautiful life, to be good and do good and we are not sure if there is a re-entry pass.

Peace and love to All!

Nila Panakkal
Once an engineer, Now a homemaker. Taking life as it comes.

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