“Mariam is in heaven,” said the imam.
“In heaven?” asked Nabeeha.
“Yes, all children go to heaven. Well, most children go to heaven.”
“Why are we in hell? Shouldn’t there be judgement before hell? Aren’t we supposed to be in our graves?”
“Should? I don’t know what should happen. I can only tell you about what has happened, and about what is happening. There’s a lot you have to let go after death. You can’t depend on the things you’ve read, or the things you’ve been taught for that matter.”
“So, what is happening?” asked Saleem.
“You died and you came to hell. Your daughter went to heaven. As to why you are in hell? I don’t know. It’s always seemed arbitrary to me. Maybe you did something that didn’t please the Lord. Or maybe you were just ignored.”
The group heard a roaring thunder. Rain drops fell from above, never reaching the ground. They meshed into the fog, and it thickened. It became harder to breathe.
“Have we angered the Lord?” Nabeeha asked.
“We may have,” said the imam, “but this is normal fare.”
“What is it?”
“The rain you see above the fog, every drop of that is a prayer. A prayer God’s ignored or unanswered, which is most of them. Those prayers fuel this fog.”
“How can we see Mariam?” Nabeeha asked, coughing from the fog.
“How do we get to heaven?” asked Saleem.
The imam laughed, “Heaven? No, we aren’t going to heaven. But we are going to have to get to work.”