Throughout the pandemic we have been constantly aware of death with figures published every day in the beginning. But each one of those was a person, a loved one, someone connected to other people. A single death ripples outwards in its effect. Indeed, it was made worse by people having to die alone. Death was in our faces, so to speak. Death is not something we willingly talk about but it is the unavoidable thing we cannot avoid. Perhaps thinking about your death is frightening. It may not be something that you actually consider very often. But it is a grace to be able to look at one’s death directly and with full confidence. And this is only possible to do confidently if your life is given completely to God. If you are able to look into your soul and know that being holy for God has been your aim, then you can also look at death with peace and calm. In this case, there is nothing to fear. Death is then a reward and a journey to look forward to with delight and anticipation for then you will live with God, eternally.
Khan al-Khalili by Naguib Mahfouz
This is the second of the novels I have read from this Nobel Laureate. For me a somewhat better read than Children of the Alley. It tells the story of a family in Cairo in 1942 during the Second World War and their lives as they are forced to move districts in Cairo to Khan al-Khalili. It tells of their new lives and particularly of one brother, Ahmad, who through family circumstances finds himself still a bachelor in his early forties, living at home, holding down a mediocre job, all of which is of course, not good in the culture he lives in. He becomes besotted with a young girl but all those other factors work against him and then out of the blue his much younger brother Rushdi, returns home and despite leading a more hedonistic life seems to woo her. However, Rushdi develops and succumbs to TB. And the family leave the district to forget. Perhaps more in keeping with a romantic novel from the 19th century, if not earlier, it is a pleasant read, an education in Egyptian culture in the 1940s.