Old Woman at Hajj


I went to Hajj in 2012. The entire thing went very smooth, honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t get these Hajj horror stories, I had a perfect time.

Except one.

During the walk to the Jamaraat, where Muslims symbolically stone Satan, I had separated from my group to help escort an older couple from our group who were a little slow.

While I was walking, I saw an old woman completely collapsed on the ground, as if she was dead. Other people were just walking by her…

I went up to her and asked if she was okay. She was an older woman, probably in her late 60s or so, dark-skinned, looked Indian, missing a few teeth. I asked if she was okay, but she gave me a blank stare. I picked up her ID card, which identified her as Indian. I wish I still knew her name. I think it was Aisha? I don’t remember!

Clearly this woman needed help. She looked as if she had been separated from her group and just collapsed from exhaustion. I had to do something.

I asked if she spoke English. No response. Arabic? No. Urdu? I thought Urdu was like the official language of Muslims India…No Urdu either. She was probably south Indian. I even tried Pashto! But we could not communicate.

I looked around for some water, but I did not see any water anywhere. Just at that moment a Saudi guard came and spoke to me in Arabic. He said she could not lay here like this, I think he presumed I was with her. I told her I did not speak her language, that she was from South India and she was not from my group, but she needed help.

I don’t remember if I asked him for water? Did I? I hope I did? All I remember is looking at her with a face of “I don’t know how I can help you…” It wasn’t my fault, I needed to get back to the group I was escorting, who I almost lost in the sea of people.

I keep playing this scene in my head again and again. I wish I had gone to my group and said I will meet up with them back at the tents, and then gone back to her? I could have carried her to her group, navigated my way around. I spoke Arabic and maybe I could have carried her back to her tent. Maybe the fact that I’m also Indian would have helped her feel comfortable?

I wish so much I had done more. It still haunts me to this day. I was just praying Maghrib and it came to my mind. I wish I had done more.

Maybe I will meet her in the next life and apologize, or just laugh about it and talk about that day.

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